Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

Be unbearable outside or miserable inside…that was the choice I had to make every day growing up in the hot summers of rural North Carolina where it often reached 100 plus degrees. That day, I chose to stay inside. I listened to the monotonous buzz of the fan sitting in the window, with its one wobbly blade. Its intent is to cool, but it has the opposite effect of blowing in staggering heat in an already hot trailer.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that would be my last summer staying there.

A few weeks later, our parents drove my two sisters and me to a house that would become our new home. As we walked through the front door full of excitement, I remember feeling the first burst of cool air hitting my face. We didn’t care about the size of the house or the number of rooms, just the fact that we now had air conditioning bought pure joy to our faces.

My humble beginnings truly shaped the person I turned out to be and is what drives me to continue my education and obtain my graduate degree. Growing up in the south, living in a trailer park with no air conditioning, then moving into a brick home literally “on the other side of the tracks”, I was able to see first-hand the disparities in the educational system, even within the same zip code. I was fortunate to have a supportive family that stressed the importance of education, however many are not so blessed.

Poverty, implicit biases and funding inequities all play a part in the widening gaps of achievement levels in education. Looking at the numbers and percentages by demographics only give you part of the story. I also want to discover the “who, what, when, where, how and why” behind the data. Obtaining a master’s degree in higher education, with a focus on research, can help to answer some of those questions further. I plan to focus on how equity and culture have an impact on higher education and how to make higher education accessible to everyone no matter their background.

Yolanda from North Carolina
NC Central University