This here goes out to everyone who wants to throw shade on people with degrees. For whatever reason. You don’t believe in them (OK.); didn’t finish (not my fault); didn’t get to go (I’m sorry.)

My higher education is a privilege I would not have had access to decades ago.

Yes, I’m going there. Because you can’t use black history in your Black Lives Matter protest posts and exclude the rights and privileges we now own, which you reassign as assimilation for me. Not fair.

I also don’t want to hear about the final value it provides (or doesn’t) because lesbehonest everything you do and say ain’t for the people. And you can tap your holy crystals on that one. Besides, my two Masters cost me less than $5000 combined (See Perks of Working in Higher Education.)   …..p.s. that isn’t a real post yet.

Obtaining a degree takes discipline; sacrificing immediate pleasure for a delayed one. It takes pushing through, even when you’re tired, confused, frustrated, uninspired. It takes discovering a you that you didn’t know existed. If the definition of integrity is doing what you’re supposed to do even when you know you won’t get caught, then obtaining a degree will shed an entire beacon of light on your integrity. Just ask any college or university’s Dean of Students office about the number of academic dishonesty charges they receive every term.

I made a self-conscious decision to better myself and the world around me by learning the ideas and philosophies of many men and women who preceded me, on many topics and interests, in a discipline I was intrigued by. And, no, I’m not saying all the methodologies are right, but I do feel I am better able to make informed decisions knowing all sides of an argument as opposed to solely those I was taught growing up, and in the very limited perspective of the world I was in.

Going to school presented an outlet for me. And something I could do, without anyone being able to take it away from me.

I left my dad’s house when I was 17. There was no college fund, no cushion account to get started on life, no car, no guarantee, no clue. I wasn’t allowed to participate in extracurriculars in high school. High school was one of the most confusing, frustrating, depressing times of my life.

But school I could do. College I could do! I could succeed. College was my first major decision that depended solely on me. And when distractions presented themselves I cracked down in the books, on the papers, with the readings even harder. The semester my mom passed I was taking the heaviest load of my college career, just to distract myself from what we all knew was inevitable.

When my mom was sick, I remember visiting her in Crawford Long one day. I didn’t visit often, even though Georgia State was right down the street. She kept saying, “You never come see me!” and my reply was always, “Mom, I’m working and going to school.” Then she said to me, “Well, good to know it’s more important than your Motha! I know one thing, you better make sure you go farther than I did!” That moment stung. Her words were painful. My mom could be a master manipulator of feelings. But, through her words, I gained strength. I kissed her forehead and promised I would.

I think she’d be proud of me.

I still haven’t gotten good at balancing work-study-family, but we’ll save that for another post.

My education is more to me than papers, than letters, than debt.

I don’t feel entitled; I feel empowered.

I have pride in my accomplishments. No one can take that away.

(I’d like to close by saying: If this submission made you feel some kind of way, perhaps I wrote this for you.)