My grandmother offered me this advice almost 25 years ago when I was about to graduate from high school: “The only thing you can procrastinate is smoking cigarettes.” Her dream was that I go to college. At the time, my family was on food stamps and relied on what little income I brought in from part-time jobs. My younger siblings were in elementary and high school, and I felt strong pressure to work to provide for our family.

My mother on the other hand would say, “Why go to college? You’re going to drop out anyway.” Part of me believed this. English wasn’t my first language. Working and going to school was burdensome. I wasn’t always the best student. Going to college felt not only scary but irresponsible, if not downright impossible. My grandma, however, was insistent I attend college. Her encouragement changed my life’s trajectory. In the spring, I completed my doctorate in higher education leadership.

My story isn’t unique. I frequently witness the incredible resilience and dedication of the students of Santa Fe Community College, where I work.

Yash Morimoto is the associate vice president for planning and institutional effectiveness at Santa Fe Community College.

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