By Chelsea Krieger, College Adviser at West Bladen High School | January 21, 2018
Monday, January 15th, 2018 our country celebrated the 30th anniversary of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was one of our nation’s most influential civil rights leaders. He brought the movement to the public’s attention, emphasizing the importance of non-violent protest and resistance; as well as, leading the African-American civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Since then, organizations such as AmeriCorps and the Golden Door Scholars have been born, “helping others and meeting critical needs in the community” (AmeriCorps) and “investing in education and career access for high-performing DACA students” (Golden Door Scholars). These two organizations promote justice by supporting students who are underserved, underrepresented and left in the shadows from the opportunity of higher education. As a College Adviser, serving in Bladen County, North Carolina I see the critical needs of our community and have witnessed a special population of students who face challenges such as living below the poverty line, foster care, homelessness, food insecurity, mixed-status families and even high-achieving students who have access to a limited set of educational resources.
Often, these challenges translate into barriers. Barriers, in turn, create a distance between what we internalize as achievable and reality. And unfortunately, the tough realities most of my students face on a day-to-day basis overshadow the excitement or opportunity that a college education can afford them. Nevertheless, there are students who amaze me every day by their hard work and dedication to reach higher. This year alone, I have witnessed one of our student groups, the Knights College Ambassadors, triple in size, a DACA student in the top 10 of our senior class be selected as a Golden Door Scholar and an overall increase in college enrollment from previous years. Nothing excites me more, as a College Adviser and a change agent, than to see my “kids” fighting for the same rights and futures that their predecessors devoted their lives to. I want my work as a College Adviser and beyond, to embody the same values. In the words of Dr. King, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Stay tuned as the seniors at West Bladen continue to break barriers, out of the darkness and into the light.