In five days I will be graduating from college and have thus spent the past few months bombarded with the question of ‘what’s next?’ Peers relay their personal stress with the pressure of finding a career path while parents and advisors remind that ‘anything is possible.’ At this time in my life I have spent countless hours considering what path will make me happy.
I have come to realize that all of the paths that I am carefully considering share a common theme of public service. I believe that working towards eradicating the inequalities that run rampant in our country is extremely important. I believe that providing good health care and education for all are the only ways in which poverty can be addressed.
Upon careful reflection, I realize that although it feels like I am making these choices on my own, the legacy of my family is helping to frame the path I choose. Although my parents have never made it a point to say that they have committed themselves to serving those with fewer material fortunes than themselves, I have discovered that they have acted in the manner. My mother teaches in an underprivileged school, devoting countless hours and dollars to young teenagers despite receiving inadequate financial compensation for the demands of the job. My father works as a research professor in behavioral psychology, dedicating his entire adult life to looking for solutions to substance abuse, running treatment centers, and essentially fighting against one of the harshest repercussions of poverty. I have often thought of my parent’s careers as very different but now realize that they both work to help those in need.
I do not have strong family bonds with those outside of my immediate family and would not have considered my extended family influential. However, in thinking about my belief that helping others is essential, I have recognized that my maternal grandparents have also lived by this principle. My grandfather served the country as a soldier in the Korean War while his wife was trained as an occupational therapist, and practiced when her health and family life allowed. They struggled through episodes of poverty themselves, yet still must have felt drawn towards helping others.
Although it took me a while to see it, my family has influenced me to believe that it is important to help others. Because I believe that social inequality is at the route of many of our nations problems, I too will commit myself to fighting against poverty. I once assumed that most people recognized the widespread influences of poverty. I now know that our society often blames those in poverty for their problems, ignoring the social structures that are often accountable. Realizing this, I feel even stronger in devoting my career to helping others. It is time that the land of equal opportunities begins to live up to its name.