People say money does not buy happiness. I believe that to be a stupid statement. I am not trying to be facetious, but try telling that to a starving child. A child who views a dollar as more than a piece of paper, but a chance to survive and see the next day.
People have to admit money is a part of life. We need it. It took me a whole semester to realize I took money for granted.
I was taking 10 hours in the summer before the fall semester started. The weekend before finals I went to eat at the new Javelina Dining Hall where “real food on campus is not a dream, but a reality.” Hours later, I was placed in a hospital due to bacteria I had in my stomach.
Whenever I would try to stand up straight, pain would strike me and I would release vomit and uncontrollable gas. I would have complained to the school about their bad food service, but they ended up saving my life.
When the doctors ran the tests to see what kind of bacteria was affecting me, they discovered a bigger threat to my health.
Before I was going to be let out, the doctor stopped all the paper work and told me I had to go into surgery due to the crazy number of stones they had found in my kidney. With no health insurance, I was approximately $15,000 in debt.
When I recovered and was packing to come back to the start of my fall semester, my mom received a phone call letting her know that my cousin had just been murdered.
Death is a part of life. And with the many discouraging events that kept me from school, I was starting to realize oppression is a part of life as well.
I was aware the government had taken away most of my scholarships. And when you owe money to the school, after your education, the first thing to go is food.
I only ate at the Javelina Dining Hall for approximately two weeks until they put a hold on my account. After that, a whole meal turned into a luxury. The days I looked forward to the most were Wednesday and Thursday, when the religious organizations gave free food.
For the rest of the week, I would eat a teaspoon filled with peanut butter every night.
I would workout daily to keep hunger off my mind. At times I would feel myself getting light-headed in between workouts. Some nights I just sat there staring at my roommate’s food. I admit I stole a cookie every other day.
“I felt like you didn’t have food but I didn’t want to ask because It could’ve been embarrassing for you, but I was fine with you being more than welcome to take my food,” said Rey Angel Solis, my roommate at the time.
Aware of my hospital bill, my cousin’s funeral expenses and the everyday family expenses, I did not tell a word to my family about my situation. I came to school that fall weighing 270 pounds and by the time finals came around I was down to 225 pounds.
When it came to registration time, I was told I could not register due to the amount of money I owed to the university. When I asked one of my advisors what I could do, she just shrugged her shoulders and let me on my way.
Committed to staying in school, I went straight to the financial aid office, asked for a loan and my situation was “solved.” I paid off the meal plan I was restricted from using and my holds were lifted. But I knew I was making a deal with the devil when I
gave into loans.
Today, when I eat my full course meals, I forget there might be other people in the same situation I was in. I do have a suggestion for them, though.
Look for help. Wait in the financial aid office until the grumpy clerks are gone and ask for any opportunities.
People usually say, “You don’t have to suffer and be poor all your life, you just need to try harder.” Well, I was majoring in music education, music performance, communications and I was part of the honors college. I do not know what else I could have done to end my suffering.