Earlier this year, Forbes Magazine labeled Kylie Jenner “the youngest self made billionaire.” Immediately, the piece received backlash. For many people, when we look at Kylie Jenner we not only see her, but the social empire that her family has built. If it was not for them, would anyone even buy her products?
This headline forced me to think. Are any of us truly self-made? The more I reflected on this idea, the more I realized how irresponsible and dishonoring this notion is. The self made myth minimizes and erases the work of those before us. Whether their impact has been direct or indirect, our communities and predecessors have helped make us. I myself was humbled to experience the impact of community first hand last semester.
At the beginning of the fall semester, I found myself short $5000 for my tuition. For a week, it seemed as though my senior year at Biola was not going to happen. Without the money I would not graduate and I would not have had the chance to be a part of the GRIT and S.E.I.D teams. The foundation of my expectations for the year had crumbled. I sat in my supervisor/mentor’s office holding back tears as he helped me lay out a plan for getting enrolled. Finally, he told me to start a crowdfunding campaign. That was the last thing I wanted to hear. That mere suggestion was a hit to my pride. I did not want everyone to know that I couldn’t afford school.
As a last ditch effort, I set up the campaign that night, not expecting much from it. At most I would get $500, right? Any little bit helps. Within a couple of days, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who gave to me. Everyone from Biola alum, professors, and my friends girlfriends gave generously. I was stunned. People I had known for years and people I had never met gave to my education. As you can imagine, that week was filled with tears. The pride of not wanting to receive help turned into the humility of knowing that there is nothing I can achieve solely on my own.
So thank you Dr. Gerald Fisher, Katie Agarth, Meleca Consultado, Lester Larios, Lisa Igram, Isaiah B., Kaylor P., Christopher D., Marc M., Stephanie C., Steve P., Simon S., Brendan S., David H., Horacio S., Margaret D., Megan J., Matthew B., Gordon H., Paul B., Jake N., Caroline W., D’Andre C., Lisa S., Bonnie V., Morgan B., Maranda G., Anayansi R., Joshua S., Lori F., Brianna S., Sarah S., Natalie H., Kent D., Jonathan A., Chris B., Bethany W., Naveen S., Chloe D., Grammy, Papa, and of course mom and dad.
As I look to graduation at the end of the week, I proudly declare that I am NOT self made. I am a culmination of all the people listed above. I am here because of their generosity and sacrifice. I get to walk across that stage because they believed my future was worth the cost. So, thank you to everyone who has given to me over the course of my education. Thank you dad for supporting me over the past three years at Biola. Thank you mom for letting me know straight from the womb that a bachelor's degree was not only possible, but simply the launching point of what I will achieve.
If I am to leave the GRIT community with anything, I hope that it is an uninhibited gratitude. Exhort those who have carried you and those you will carry. It has been an honor to write for GRIT and a privilege to be a part of this community.