Society tells girls there are things they can’t do. Even though most people won’t admit to this sexism, the invisible caution tape is there. But we have the power to relentlessly pursue our dreams and make them our reality.
Throughout elementary school I had many friends and loved going to school. But in middle school, the dynamic changed. Suddenly friends started to reject me. Classmates bullied me. The culture grew toxic. By the time I got to high school I was miserable.
A friend suggested I could transfer to a private school. My first response was, No way. Even though I told myself it was absurd, I could feel it was what I wanted. New buildings. New friends. More rigorous classes. A school that would shape me into a progressive member of society. This new spark gave me something to reach for.
I told my parents one night at dinner. They looked shocked. Mom and Dad looked me in the eye and said, “You can pursue this, but you must know we can’t afford private school.”
I wasn’t discouraged. I started right away on the applications. The process was long and hard, lots of forms and essays. At one point, my parents sat me down and said, “You are too excited about this, you are going to be so let down when it doesn’t work.” Nevertheless, this was my dream, my education. Even though I didn’t know exactly how it could happen, I knew I had to give it my best effort.
In the end, I applied to two schools and received two glowing acceptance letters. All the hours spent on applications had paid off. It was the best day of my life.
Then, a roadblock. Even with the school’s financial aid offer, my parents still couldn’t afford the remaining tuition. I had worked so hard, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that my parents had been right. I began to accept that it wasn’t going to happen. And then came the second life-changing moment.
My grandmother was my miracle. She had been secretly saving money for her grandchildren’s education. When she found out about my predicament, she offered to pay the difference. I know money can never buy happiness, but this money was a miracle. To know that my grandmother loved me this much took my breath away. I still cannot express the gratitude I have for her. I wouldn’t be able to do this if not for her.
I told my fellow students at school that I was leaving. Their reactions were mixed; some congratulating me, others calling me entitled. I thought: Is this true? Am I entitled for wanting this? The answer is no. All young women are entitled to their dream of their future. For me, this was my education. I want to go into a biological science field, and I am going to do all in my power to follow this dream.
It is now June. I’m enrolled for the 2018-2019 school year at Friends’ Central School in Philadelphia. I am now living my dream. I have made it so far and I now have a self confidence I never thought I would have.
I know I am luckier than most girls to have financial help from family to make this happen. Although it was my hard work and ambition that got me to the gates of my dream, it was my grandma’s support, along with the school’s financial aid, that unlocked the way.
To every other woman and girl who wonders how she can live her dream, I would say:
Never let fear or uncertainty stop you. Give it your all anyway.
Don’t be afraid to ask for support—you never know who is ready to help.
And even if you don’t reach all your dreams, you will have traveled a beautiful journey and grown stronger, and that too is worth every effort.
Harper Will is a rising high school sophomore residing in Springfield, PA. She enjoys playing the viola, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. She looks forward to pursuing a career as a microbiologist, hoping to make significant discoveries in the science world.