Kelly Carrion and her classmates at her high school graduation. (Courtesy/ Kelly Carrion )

Opinion: I’m not uppity, I’m ambitious about my education

I have seen many students from urban neighborhoods feel guilty when they leave behind their communities and friends to try and reach their goals in other places.

In many cases their urban communities cannot provide what they need or want in order to reach those goals and this is why they find resources in other places.

I was lucky enough find NJ SEEDS in Newark, NJ, my hometown. NJ SEEDS is a non-profit organization that helps and prepares selected high-achieving youth from low-income families get into private high schools around the nation.

With the help of this program, I was accepted into a private high school that had a long record of sending their graduates to some of the top level universities of the country. Going to a top-level college was my dream and I believed going to this high school would help attain that dream.

My family and I were incredibly excited about this new venture I was going to undertake, but some of my friends didn’t really understand why I wanted to go to this school.

“I hope you don’t turn white at your new rich high school,” said one of my closest friends at the time.

Through elementary and middle school I was in classrooms where about 95 percent of the students were minorities. I was going to a high school where I would be the only Latina in my grade. I began to think that maybe my friend was right, that I would lose my identity and my culture if I went to this school,  so I began to feel guilty about my decision.

I was known as the “white girl” in my group of friends at home because I started speaking differently and dressing differently. However, all these changes were part of my experience and my growth. I didn’t leave behind my culture and who I was. I was very orgullosa of being of  Hispanic background and of growing up in Newark.

The truth is my ambition- mixed with hard work and a little bit of luck- has gotten me to where I am and I shouldn’t be ashamed of that. I come from a family of immigrants that arrived to this country with little education and poor English.  Now I’m a first generation soon-to-be graduate of a great university.

I feel like any student that has accomplished his or her goals should be proud of them.  There might be times when friends that might not share your goals will not understand or like certain academic decisions you make, but if being successful is your priority, that is far more important than what anything friends might say.

A student is not “uppity” because of goals she or her wants to accomplish or new experiences he or she has.  Ambition and following your dreams is a good character trait to have.

Kelly Carrion is entering her Senior year at Boston University.  She has interned at NBC Latino for the last two years. 

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