Thursday, January 12, 2012

Beautiful and brainy...........and needs help

I met a young girl, about 17 years old, in September.  She's beautiful, bright, and black.   I mention her color because it's because of her color that I got to know her so well.  I do part-time work and substitute teach at the school which she attends and so I see her on campus when I'm doing special projects or, on occasion, when I'm  sub'ing one of her classes.   I'm going to call her Jane.

I was in a 'home room' kind of class when all the kids were at computers doing school work, etc., and I was at a master screen which can look in on any of the computers in the room to make sure they're not messing around on Facebook and otherwise wasting time.  She was working on a paper and I started to read it but then felt I shouldn't read more unless I ask her if I may.   So, I approached Jane and told her I'd seen a few words and did she mind me reading over her shoulder now?  She said she didn't..........She was writing about being an 8 year old black girl being driven up to a very white, very privileged private school nearby (I have never asked how the family could afford this).  She was scared, she was excited.  I asked her how long she felt like an outsider because of her color and she said it took only a few days because there were 3 other black kids there and, anyhow, they treated her there like any kid; kindly, encouraging, etc.    I told Jane about when I was in Paris and had a French General insult Armenians (which is my descent) at a dinner party.  When I told him that I didn't agree with him that the Armenian lobby was too strong in France and their Senate had caved by passing an acknowledgment that Turkey committed genocide on Armenians, and that, as a matter of fact, I was American with Armenian ancestors, he turned away and never addressed me again. (he actually said "I even know some Turks who speak French like FRENCHMEN!"  as if that spoke for their character).

That night, after the dinner party, Mr. Z asked why I seemed happy about this snub and I said "Now I know what it feels like to be black, or Jewish, to be judged by what I was instead of who I was. Now I can relate better to racism and other prejudice because it happened to me."  I told young  Jane this story and she indicated that she felt close to me for having told her that....that she had a rare confidence in me because of this.
Jane and I always stop and talk when I see her between classes, etc., and Friday, when I sub'd for her Physics class, she had time to chat while the others were working on some textbook problems and she approached my desk and stood there making small talk.  She asked how my Christmas was and I told her I'd lost my husband two years ago, this was my third Christmas without him, and how that colors many happy occasions for me now.  This 17 year old stared into my eyes and said "Mrs. Z, I didn't know you were going through that.  Two years is like yesterday.  How'd you get through it?"  "God, friends and family," I said.   We all know that two years to a normal teenager is an eternity, but this wise, lovely girl understood how short two years is when you're grieving.  Talk about a mature girl.  I asked about her Christmas and she said they had family problems.

Jane's mother has a restraining order on her father, who left about 3 years ago.  First, when she told me her dad had left the small family, I sympathized and said "But you mustn't ever feel it's because of you....what father could leave you?"  She said it was their choice to get him out and when I asked if it was because of drugs or alcohol, all she said was "It wasn't alcohol."   She admitted that money's tight and that her mother can only work part time jobs she can manage to get because she's depressed and has chronic fatigue.......she and her mother are extremely close and I could see the hurt in Jane's face.  I kept asking how she can support them on part time work and then the coin sank into my sometimes naive heart, and I said "You can't tell me how you're living, can you."   She said she couldn't, so I know they're getting aid.  This girl is proud.  Her mother's distraught and hurt because her family in another state hasn't helped, and they get no support from the Dad and her mother's too ill to work.  So now what?

Jane wants to go to college and she's a senior this year.  Though I'm really in no shape to help with anything substantial, I have offered to help if she's missing out on any senior activities because she can't afford it or would love to have a new dress to wear to a special graduation party or something.  It's the least I can do and it's all I can do, sadly.  I already spoke to one friend and she said she'd chip in...with enough chipping in $10, we can do anything!

This girl is beautiful, this girl is smart, this girl is wise beyond her years, caring, a girl of faith, and she deserves a future.   She deserves a healthy mother who's not so sick and discouraged at all that's happened to her and her two children, she deserves help.  I'm not sure her grades qualify for any significant scholarship, by the way...she's very bright but I'd have to look into that and I will.  She told me, by the way, that before coming to the private school she's in now, after having graduated from the posh Elementary School, her folks put her in a public junior high school..."Mrs. Z, I knew if I stayed there, I wouldn't get to college."   THAT is how bright and mature this girl was, even when was 13 years of age!

What do we do about someone like this?  White or Black, with such high hopes of going to college, working hard, making a life for herself and her mother: what does one do to help?    She is wise beyond her years, she's good to the core, and she needs help.  What would you do?



net observer said...


I wish this was my first time hearing a "Jane"-ish story (although I was a little surprised about her feeling racial isolation in 2012).

This is normally where I would begin a long rant against the futility of the NAAACP and like organizations. (i.e., "What exactly are they doing if they're not helping 'Jane'?") Instead, I'm just gonna be practical.

The rather uncomfortable hardcore truth is this: Jane's early years probably won't be "smooth and easy". She might have to save for college. She might have to work her way through college. She might have to start college considerably late. She MIGHT even consider the military.

To be very honest, these are the kind of young people I would RATHER see enter the workforce or the business world FIRST, BEFORE college and its insular values confuse her outlook on life. But that's just me.

(Also, I didn't pick up what she wanted to major in? What's her dream job?)

Regardless, it sounds like she has the stuff to get through on her own. It's just gonna take time.


And I'll bet you she'll be okay.

Silverfiddle said...

She's bright, female and a minority. It's a scholarship-rich environment for her, especially if she wants to go into engineering or science.

Because of her grades, she may need to go to junior college first to attract the scholarships.

Net Observer has good advice. Staying in her environment after graduation would probably be her doom. She needs to get out of there.

Z said...

net, I really love your input here. Thanks. What you said about waiting on college till she's worked a bit so the insular values (good euphemism, by the way :-) don't confuse her outlook really rings true.
Re the 'racial isolation in was only isolation she felt in 2004, when she was about 8; I think it was more fear about any new school, particularly an elitist mostly-white school, that got her scared but, as I said in the piece, she said her fear was unfounded and lasted only about 3 days... The best thing about our school is that you see all races chatting during breaks, working together in clubs, etc...absolutely NO isolationism or cliques. I love that.

I did ask her what she'd like to do but it was fairly nebulous; I'll try to pin her down a tad.
I saw her yesterday, and she said "I told Mom what you said and she cried.."
She does have the stuff but she's worried about her mother, who could hold her back in that regard; tho I really respect her close relationship with her mom.
And, that kid is knight in shining armor's going to get HER.
They don't have abstinence classes there but they have a group of people who come, I think twice a year, and talk to the kids about their lives and how early sex put a negative stamp on them physically and emotionally, like abortions, STDs, etc. I sat in for one and was really impressed with it. Not preachy, just FACTS.
The girls I speak to stand by their guns. The guys go to those talks, too. and they're told how easy it is to get STDs from even nice, clean-looking girls.

"And I'll bet you she'll be okay". I think so, too, net..thanks. I'm sure going to see if I can help.

SF...I looked at her grades in her file yesterday; the only Dplus was in math (it's the only D I ever got, too)...many A's, B's..some C' I think she's done fairly well, and I think you're right about getting a scholarship.

Always On Watch said...

Silverfiddle is correct: scholarships are available for Jane.

A guidance counselor at the school should be able to point her in that direction. If not, she may be able to find that information through "activist" groups. Also, she should contact Morehouse.

Always On Watch said...

BTW, if she can get a sterling score on the SAT's (2100 or above), that kind of score will go a long way to obtain at least a partial scholarship. In fact, SAT scores are critical in this regard.

The other factor: a superior college-application essay (or essays).

Brooke said...

I'm no expert here. AOW and Silverfiddle seem to be spot on.

Military is always an option, too, and she could choose an MOS that is not front-line.

Bob said...


We see this kind of stuff all the time. There are programs out there for her, and if her grades were better she would have all kinds of financial aid to a top university bent on satisfying a diversity program. Even with her grades (not too good), there are still opportunities.

In the small, technical college where I currently am taking courses, there are MANY young, smart, black women who are getting their two year degrees, and it is all being paid by various government aid programs.

If they achieve their two year programs, there are 4 year institutions that are recruiting those two year graduates.

There are not only grant programs, there are federal and state aid programs. If she has to work, that's ok. I crammed a four year engineering program into six years while I was a full time engineer at a local radio/tv station.

Your offer of help is magnanimous, and you should not feel bad that you cannot fund the young lady's education. One of the most important things you can do is to be a mentor, and help her keep her positive attitude.

Sam Huntington said...

I wonder if you understand that getting to college is only half of her challenge. Most people who begin as freshmen don’t graduate. There are all kinds of reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that they don’t belong in college to begin with. Many people drop out because leftist professors frustrate them. Others drop out because they realize that they don’t need a piece of paper hanging on the wall to remind them how smart they are; Bill Gates comes to mind.

But I think the first victory would be to convince Jane that she doesn't need anyone's help getting into college. If she is truly bright, and dedicated, she will achieve her goals … the sweetest part will be her realization that she did it while standing on her own two feet.

BB-Idaho said...

It sounds like she could use the support of a mentor, or the Big
Sister program. This can augment
home support and open new windows.

Anonymous said...

She should just stick to gardening and preaching how and what to eat to kids.
Sound familiar? This person does not belong anywhere near the government of a powerful country. Neither does her husband.

Z said...

Mrs Brian, we're not talking about Mrs. Obama here..we're talking about a young girl who has a rocky start!? considering being that for her myself. We'll see where it goes.

Sam...thankfully, she's not the type looking for an easy road. she does want to get an education. I think I'll take her to lunch and see what's up in more detail.
I agree with you about college; I think it's highly net observer so wisely (and surprisingly) said above, she might want to work first...."..BEFORE college and its insular values confuse her outlook on life."
She's wise enough to see through leftwing indoctrination but it is a worry.

Bob, I'll be happy if I can slip her a $50 here and there...maybe to help get her a special dress for a graduation event or something... but if I can collect from friends where it doesn't squeeze them too much, I think it might be surprising what we can raise. NO way could we pay for college, but we can pay for little luxuries a young girl deserves.

AOW...I'm going to talk to our college counselor and see if Jane's involved in that yet.

THanks for ALL your input.

I guess scholarships are a kind of 'welfare' but not one of you has "gone there" in regard to her family having enough so her mother can relax.....I'm proud of that here at geeeZ.
I suspect they are on some kind of aid but that kid sure wouldn't tell me. I love that about her; it shows a lot.

Her brother's somehow in college, so I'm thinking Jane will, soon after graduation, I don't know. I do know she's not the type to not go directly to college and that being the cause of her never getting in, which sometimes happens. She is driven to be a success, so she'll find something good.

I love being around kids like this; they give me a hope I thought was lost in our kids today.
Except in my relatives, OF COURSE (SMile)

AOW, my nephews got 2250 and 2260 on their SAT's...not bad, eh?
And the elder of the two did a 97 percentile on the MCAT!! (med school test...he studied from 8AM to 8PM every single day all summer and took breaks every two hours and swam or played pingpong against the wall, etc etc...disciplined and extremely smart. ) Straight A's right now in his biochem major and the youngest intern in a chem lab in the (well known) University.!! SO proud of him!

Lisa said...

A rocky start indeed. It's a shame that a child due to their circumstances aren't afforded the same opportunities as others who are more privileged.
Maybe this will make her stronger person. She definitely has a lot of burden when she has to worry about her mom first and herself second.
It's such a shame when a young girl doesn't have a strong father figure as well in her life. It's too easy for these guys to take the high road and leave their families to the government to take care of.
I can't help myself but "Thanks Liberals"

Z said...

Lisa, that the mom's own family doesn't help is really sad and troubling, too, causing her mother quite some sadness and disillusionment, as you can imagine.

My "Jane" is not atypical; I think she's just atypical in that she realized how bad public schools have become and she has a faith in God, and she doesn't see color any more than I do.
I love this kid!

KP said...

Z: in addition to the ideas I sent directly to you, here are some suggestions when it comes to scholarship seekers:

The bottom 2 are San Diego based. The others are more open. Fastweb is a good one because it asks the applicant some "profile" questions and then sends searches specific to the applicant.

KP said...


A college applicant has until March 1st to apply to the state funded CAL Grant and federally funded FAFSA finacial aides. They are processed together and work on a sliding scale developed via need, which is determined by the family tax return from the year before. Private schools often match those grants from their endowments. In the end this could make a private school more affordable than, say, the UC system here in Cali. A student could actually pay less at a $45,000 a year school like USC than a $25,000 a year school like UCLA. Either way, most of a low income students educational expenses will be met by the CAL Grant and FAFSA. Then, we look for additional scholoraships, take advantage of college work programs, get part or full time jobs and look at student loans. Like net, SF and Bob have said, Junior College is a great option when grades are low. California has one of the best junior college systems anywhere.

Trekkie4Ever said...

What a touching story. How I wish I would have had a "Mrs. Z" in my life as a kid in high school.

You, my friend, are a blessing to this precious child.

She is a minority (hate that term) anyhoo, she shouldn't have too much difficulty getting a scholarship of some kind.

Liberalmann said...

Well for one thing; don't vote GOP, they cut education.

net observer said...

"surpisingly?" =)

Z, with the exceptions of math and science pursuits, I'm extremely lukewarm about youngsters going to college immediately after high school, esp. for those who are seeking a practical way out of a bad condition.

It's not just the leftist b.s. you're guaranteed to encounter. I'm even more concerned about the implicit message of "college education" equals "money".

That SOLELY depends on the skills you end up with -- esp. these days. And it's hard to know that if you're only 17.

KP said...

Liberlmann, I have two daughters. One just graduated from university and one is in her senior year here in California. I am very familiar with the system.

Here in California it is the Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and a Democratic state legislature who are cutting funding for higher education. The following is taken directly from the California Student Aid Commission website:

Changes to Cal Grant Program Eligibility and Cuts to Cal Grant Awards:

On March 24, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 70 (the education trailer bill) into law. SB 70 achieves reductions in state spending by changing Cal Grant eligibility requirements for both students and institutions. These changes will affect new and renewal Cal Grant recipients beginning with the 2011-12 academic year.

Specifically, the bill affected about 14,000 potential and current college students as a result of these changes.

Z said...

KP and Liberal'man'....

California only cuts white natural born kids off, not illegals. They've paved the way to happiness for them.

net, I happened to sub the physics class again today so I had "jane" in there...I asked her what she wants to do and she said marketing, psychology or film......a major/minor thing.
I couldn't ask her much more than that today.....
I think she'll go straight to college mostly because she's on a track...and feels she'll never get there without our high school's help, etc.

KP, I did look at her file yesterday and her grades aren't bad at all. I'm hoping our school has those links and might even give them to our college counselor..thanks very much for that.
Am glad your girls are doing well.

Thanks for the reminder that California's CUTTING and it's the Democrats who're doing it. (except for illegals)

Z said...

Leticia, thanks so much, but I know there are so MANY young people like this girl and we need to help them somehow.

A friend had given me a gift certificate to a See's Candy Store, so I gave it to "Jane" today "for your Mom"... she seemed very happy...
SOmetimes we need a's a little nothing but it's something she couldn't otherwise afford.

Pris said...

Our son worked his way through college. He began at a community college and when he completed that, transferred to a State college, working the entire time.
Yes it took longer, but he did it.

Our grandson also attended a community college, had a part time job but was laid off.
He did continue in college though, he had savings and help from his dad and stepdad. He transferred to a UC college. He just finished and has earned a BS degree.

Both of them did extremely well.

Z, your zeal to help this girl is so commendable, and kind.

If she wants this badly enough, she can do it, and if she does, she will have reason to be very proud of herself, and will have achieved confidence in herself and in her ability to make it.

I wish her all the best.

MathewK said...

A lovely story Z and good on you for sharing it and helping her.

Average American said...

Another possibility would be to get her first year in at a community college right at home. That breaks up the new experiences into 2 more manageable parts. Get used to the college work ethic during that first year and then tackle the new found freedom in the second year. If she picks courses carefully, they will all be transferable. This also saves a ton of cash the first year--no room and board. I managed to talk both of my sons into taking this path, and they both completed their education in great shape. How many people start college with all the right intentions and last for only 1 year because they became party animals with no clue how to study on their own. Back in the days when I was in school, the drop-out rate was almost 50% the first year! The Valedictorian of my high school class was 1 of them! She got away from her overly strict parents and quickly became the biggest "loser" of the entire school.

KP said...

Pris gets it!

Efforts matter. And so do finances. But the rhe results of work crosses party lines. Work works!

TS/WS said...

The story here in the comments section is not of color but a student with clear head and no quest for instant gratification. Rare these days, I don't know, but there are more stories of the young seeing more clearly than their previous generation culture.
To many times the students are overwhelmed by the untrained patience to study and research.
I have had the chance to talk to some PhD's, and all said that College was good for training to do research.
Like Average American said, try it at home, and if it a second nature, then real school chaos will not effect their grades.
I think that "Z" should go for the pooling of contributions, instead of shelling out all of the money herself--what if other students caught wind of her selectively helping; might start an envy mutiny among students.

KP said...

They Say/We Say:

Very interesting comments. I had to read them more than one time because they is a lot there. I look forward to reading through your blog to get some of your additional thoughts.

Kid said...

- If I was one of 3 white kids at a posh Black school, I'd be extremely intimidated.
- Net has some great comments here.
- I like Brooke's military option, but it's not going to happen while the imbecile is still the OinC.
- If she works at it she will succeed. I believe that.

Get some work experience. If the employment scene hasn't gotten better in a year or two, check the military with GI bill benefits.
The focus is going to be off 'sending people into country' for a good while, so she has a good chance to have a non-combat experience and that experience will help her tremendously in any avenue she wants to pursue from that point forward. My wife's daughter joined the Navy at 30 years old. She's in about 9 years now. Been to Iraq twice. She's medical. Did college before going but is not an officer though they want her to be a doctor and take that step. She's Petty Officer 1st Class and doing a lot of living.

Kid said...

Net, SO many young girls think having a baby will lock their man to them for life, when in fact, the complete opposite is true.

Observing the numbers of single mothers grow is like watching popcorn pop these days.

Z said...

I've felt awkward since I told how I gave Jane the candy gift certificate because I don't believe in sharing the things we do.... it's between me and Jane.
But I'm leaving it here because I believe that it's an example of the simplest thing we can do to make someone feel a little cheerier; that someone thought of them, and, heck, it's CHOCOLATE, how bad can THAT be, right? :-)

Helping doesn't have to be covering the rent for a month.....helping can be a stupid $10 box of candy. A bad of groceries, a chance to wash your car for $10, etc etc...

Trekkie4Ever said...

Z, I am sure it was appreciated.

Liberalmann said...

Sorry guys, when it comes to education, the GOP don't want too many smart people around to see through their hypocrisies. Looks like it's working here, lol!

Yawn, just today:
GOP Rep. Berates Student Concerned About Pell Grant Cuts, Tells Her To Join The Military

Z said...

Lib"man"..."Tells Her To Join The Military"
Excellent way to get to college. I applaud that common sense.

In case you haven't noticed, we can't AFFORD to school every college kid. But the left here in California's screwing my own family's kids and making them pay (the ones who aren't on merit scholarships) and the illegals are getting it as a gift.
I know, you're a liberal, YOU think that's just fine.


Z said...

actually, my sisters' kids have had 2250 and 2260 on their SATs and I don't believe they have any substantial financial help. What's it take for a white kid?

Joe said...

Liberalmann: "...Sorry guys, when it comes to education, the GOP don't want too many smart people around to see through their hypocrisies. Looks like it's working here, lol!"

The best thing that could be done to educate kids better would be to eliminate the agency that holds them back the most: The Department of Education.

It does NOT improve or help education in any way and is only a henderance.

Liberalmann said...

Ok, Joe, let's see you try to explain that one instead of just parroting Ron Paul

Liberalmann said...

KP and Z: You both complain about illegals getting free education and balancing budgets. Now Gov. Brown does massive budget cuts in CA, which also hits education, to do just that and you still complain.

Z said...

Lib..don't look now, but most of the Rep candidates are wise enough to take out Education from the Fed gov't..
that's not just Ron Paul.

As for cutting in California? Who complained about that? It's good to cut but when the Democrats are the ones who've driven the spending up, up and more up over the years, it's kind of stupid to suddenly compliment Gov Brown.

As for education; cut it, just don't cut it only to our American kids and let the illegals benefit.
the thread clearly shows our sentiment on that. No hypocrisy here, as you like to suggest.

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