Return to the Latest

Working to ensure the funding of Cal Grant Reform Act

My Life as a College Student 

I am currently a sophomore at the University of California Merced, majoring in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies and minoring in Sociology. My journey to college has been shaped by significant challenges and the crucial support of financial aid.

Living in Los Angeles during the COVID-19 quarantine, my family faced severe setbacks. My mother lost her job due to the pandemic, leading to late rent payments and increased food insecurity. Although she eventually found employment, it was only part-time with fewer hours, making it incredibly difficult to make ends meet and provide for her three children. We come from a low-income community in the Crenshaw district, an area plagued by homelessness, food insecurity, and poor road conditions.

Transitioning into my college years, receiving a Cal Grant has been a lifesaver. It provided the necessary loans to pay for my tuition as a low-income student and opened up opportunities like study abroad programs and the UCDC program, where students can study across the country. The Cal Grant also covered my housing for the first two years, allowing me to better understand the campus and focus on my studies. Without this grant, I wouldn’t have been able to continue my higher education at a university; instead, I would have had to attend a community college and live at home.

Living at home would have posed significant challenges. It would have meant prioritizing household chores over my academic needs and being constantly surrounded by the same environment that doesn’t foster personal growth. Privacy would have been scarce in a crowded home, making it difficult to focus on my mental health and academic responsibilities. Additionally, staying home would have limited my opportunities to explore other parts of California and experience new environments.

Currently, I am in the Central Valley, an area that lacks community resources and support. While Los Angeles has its own problems, it often has more resources available compared to the Central Valley. This contrast highlights the importance of financial aid and support systems for students from low-income backgrounds. The Cal Grant has not only provided me with financial stability but has also given me the chance to grow independently and pursue my academic goals.

In conclusion, financial aid like the Cal Grant is essential for students like me. It enables us to pursue higher education, gain independence, and explore opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. My experience underscores the importance of such support systems in helping first-generation, low-income students succeed in college and beyond.

Jaylin Doxey, she/her/hers is a sophomore at the University of California Merced. She majors in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies with a minor in Sociology and has a strong passion for discovering how she can help people in her community and the Central Valley.