I understand that this is a student blog and I should share some of my student life with the online world, so here is my week from November 13 until today. It has been a week of hard work and great rewards!
My week started on Sunday, which I know some people and places in the world think is the last day of the week, but in my world it is the first. On Sunday night I had my final Liberal Arts Council Leadership Team Meeting of the semester where we reflected and looked forward to the coming one. It is amazing to look back at what all we as a Council have accomplished in one semester, from publishing the first college newsmagazine, to passing the very first college specific piece of legislation, and building the LAASO (Liberal Arts Affiliated Student Organizations) program; this semester has seen great progress in LAC (Liberal Arts Council) and we continue to work towards representing the students and the college the best ways possible.
Monday came to a close with a LACTBAC (Liberal Arts College Tuition and Budget Advisory Committee) meeting where we discussed more ways to assist the college in various issues ranging from budget cuts to retention rates. Though I am certainly partial, I feel as though our CTBAC is paving the way for other colleges and helping to show the leaders of this university where students place their priorities when it comes to their education. I love serving on this committee and working with a great team where each member brings a different idea and strength to the table. In a little over a year, we have helped to shape the ways in which deans in our college make decisions and it is a very rewarding experience knowing that we are making a difference not only today but for many years into the future.
Tuesday was Liberal Arts Council General Assembly where there is never a dull moment. This year our Council has some extraordinary members that are deeply passionate about their college and its success. Though I may serve on the Executive Board, it is our members that are our fuel supply. They are the ones that go out and do so much for so many people not only within our college but throughout our university. Joining Council was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made here at the University and I am very much appreciative for all of the opportunities it has given me and people I have been able to work with. Though I sometimes get frustrated or impatient with various aspects of the Council, I still love it and am so proud of the work that we have done. Our members, our Committee Chairs, and my fellow Executive Officers are some of the most amazing people on this campus and they are constantly coming up with new, innovative and amazing ideas to improve our college.
I was given my ring on Wednesday and I cannot begin to share with you how amazing the night was. Though the ceremony was short, the speaker was wonderful (anybody who can tie together ancient Egypt with “Lord of the Rings” gets an A in my book)! I never thought the moment would come when I would have a ring of my own but on Wednesday, that dream and wish was fulfilled. I must admit though, the greatest part of the night had absolutely nothing to do with me. At the end of the ceremony, when roughly 200-300 students had been given their rings, a special ring was given out. That ring was given to a graduating member of the 1982 class, who was not able to afford a ring of her own at the time. That graduates daughter was getting her ring that night and felt it only right that her mother have a ring of her own. It was very touching to see the surprise on the mothers face and to watch her be presented a ring by her daughter. The moment was surreal and one that I will never forget. Then at the end, when the graduate of 1982, my fellow classmates and I had on our rings, we all put our horns in the air and sang “The Eyes of Texas.”
Italian dominated my day on Thursday. I had my last Italian quiz in my last foreign language class. A weight has now been lifted off my shoulders because I know I will never have to undergo any more of that stress. After spending the past three semesters learning an entirely new language, I tip my hat to those who are bilingual. Congratulations! My experience in a foreign language class has been one of many highs and lows. I want to take this moment and thank Signora (who has a name I will never say or spell correctly) for pushing me to my limits and showing me that fear is an effective teaching method. I would also like to thank my classmates, the ones that sat around me for three semesters and kept me sane. We struggled together and we celebrated together and congrats, we are almost done!
It is now Friday, a day I can finally relax and catch up on the hours of sleep I have been missing; however, if today is like any other in my life, then there will be some form of excitement and adventure. It has been a great week, one where I have been stressed to the max but one where I have continued to learn and grow. I would not change any moment of this week because it will now go into my support system and become a brick that has built me.
To all my fellow classmates, we are almost there! Best of luck on your tests, projects, and papers!
Ciao and Hook’em!
P.S. It is 3:43 a.m. and ou still SUCKS!
Below is an excerpt from one of the defining moments in my life. I have told this story to countless people because of its eye-opening effect on me. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let us remember the real reasons why we are here at the University of Texas. And rather pretend to be thankful for what we have, we should do something about the issues raised below. With that in mind, I wish you a wonderful well-deserved days of rest, remembering what we have done to merit rest.
In recent weeks, it seems Texas Governor Rick Perry, unlike most of our nation’s politicians, has been gloating amidst the job debacle. The Lone Star State, Perry boldly declared, has created 40% of all new jobs in the United States under his reign. On the surface, this looks extremely impressive, given the current conditions of the other forty-nine states. But the one scarring fact that is unfortunately hidden away is the type of job that Perry is responsible for: minimum wage jobs, ones that provide intense labor, dismal medical benefits, and enough money to feed an ant. The creation of these minimum-wage jobs is definitely not something to be overtly proud of. Yes, it is a significant step in decreasing our embarrassingly high unemployment numbers. But what about the welfare of some of our poverty-stricken compatriots?
This summer, I happened to be one of the more fortunate souls to be swept up by this wave of new jobs: I was hired at my local McDonald’s. Naively enthusiastic, I ventured out to the restaurant with a grin on my face and room in my pocket for my first check. But was that big wave a stroke of luck or a heinous act of trickery by the infamous clown Ronald McDonald (and, I suppose, Governor Perry)?
Turns out that clown had a lot of tricks waiting to devour me. Scurrying around the establishment, sometimes for more than eight hours without rest, I was expected to sweep crumbs, mop spills, pick up after disgusting children, deal with rude and utterly stupid customers, concoct drinks with a thousand ingredients, see a guy sucking meat juice from his gloves while handling food, craft the best gourmet sandwiches you have ever eaten…there was always something to amuse myself with at McDonald’s. At all times loomed over me like a thick, oppressive fog the expectation to do everything quickly, efficiently, and accurately. As the clueless newbie, I, of course, failed at all three. And it certainly never helped that I was a guy shorter than most girls, for I often found myself climbing shelves and pulling muscles just to grab some cups in boxes near the ceiling. And during the lunch rush one day, I burned my hand when I accidentally dropped a French fry basket fresh out of the oil. By the end of most days, I was often doused in burger grease and my own sweat. The obnoxious hat did nothing to help my poufy hair. Over the course of the summer, I did steadily find a decent, manageable rhythm, but I always had a great deal of respect and admiration to the people who worked alongside me, the people who I helped hinder. Essentially, I was the lone, rusty, dysfunctional gear in a massive, well-oiled machine. Without mercy from the big clown. Can you hear Ronny laughing now?
The most depressing part is that I wore myself out every day for a measly $7.25 an hour. To me, my wage did not seem all that important. Like many of my other high school friends, I tackled this job without many hesitations. All McDonald’s meant to us, at first, was BIG MONEY!! After all, we all had lovely parents who worked high-paying jobs, who put copious amounts of food on the dinner table every day, whose idea of a vacation included not Galveston, but Florida and Europe. So what if we did get fired? No big deal. Our parents were there to back us up.
For many of my older coworkers, however, the general mentality is “I have essentially sold my life to Ronald McDonald and I have no hope of advancing the career ladder.” What may come as surprising to some is that the minimum wage is far from enough to support oneself, let alone an entire family. One of my shift managers (let’s call her Emily), told my friends about her parents who died from cancer when she was very young. Without them, how could Emily and her siblings have anything to eat? As the oldest of the children, Emily sacrificed her education to find work in an attempt to support her siblings. And when Emily’s siblings reached legal working age, they too dropped out to find employment. How else did they expect to survive? Another bright lady, Betty, who I often worked alongside, told me of her painful endeavors to find a second job. Betty pondered not only the stress from supporting her daughter as a single mom, but also the glaring possibility of working, at both jobs, from 5 in the morning until 2…in the morning. And I cannot even begin to describe the amount of skill and finesse both of these diligent ladies harness as they tackle their jobs at McDonald’s.
It is easy to dismiss the plight of my fellow coworkers as something they justly deserve. But how can I look upon such lovely individuals with scorn when they were denied the opportunities to succeed? Clearly, it is not Emily’s fault for her parents’ deaths and not attending school in order to carry out the most honorable duty of caring for her brothers and sisters. And who can blame Betty for struggling to love and support her kid by working two jobs instead of investing more time hitting the books in hopes of someday finding a higher-paying career. What time does she have to begin with? Turns out, Ronny’s just juggling them menacingly so they have no chance of escaping the vicious cycle while the little kids are gawking at his remarkable illusion of skill and finesse, clueless as to the reactants of such beautiful work.
Perhaps that explains why one or two of my coworkers seemed to have a tinge of jealousy at the fact that I will be leaving to attend college soon. To them, my future is a radiant lighthouse amidst the frozen sea of stagnancy. What I have been exposed to this summer was infinitely more valuable than the few paychecks I received. Rather, I was privileged enough to meet hardworking Americans who always hope to ascend the ladder of success. But instead of basking in the riches, they are always kicked in the teeth and thrown down to the bottom of the ladder. So much for the famed “Rags to Riches.” Should anyone be too giddy about the surge of minimum wage jobs in Texas? How about we fight against these clownish wages and instead advocate for sustainable wages instead. It’d be nice if ALL Americans could work a fair amount of hours unshackled and look towards the possibilities of success. I would love it if Emily and Betty could get enough sleep at night or hope to advance high up because of their incredible merits and work ethic. Thank you, clown, for your patriotic support of the most unfortunate and unlucky of Americans and their welfare.