2014 Scholarship Winner – Monica M. / Oxnard, CA
I was raised in the underprivileged side of Oxnard, California. To my great fortune I was blessed to be born into a family of financially struggling immigrants who, through hardships, taught me right from wrong as well as the value of hard work and education. Although my parents could not offer me money or the latest trends, they gave me the gift of great values and morality. I grew up knowing two things: education is always first, and what the right thing to do was. Despite the endless liquor stores, smoke shops, and drug dealers on almost every corner of Oxnard, I do not abuse illegal or pharmaceutical drugs because of my dream of a great education, the effect drugs have had on my close friends, and the morals instilled on me by my parents.
I grew up watching my cousins and adults around me smoking marijuana and abusing prescription pills such as Vicodin. Soon after I noticed a pattern going on, those around me who abused drugs became unmotivated to do anything other than engage in using drugs. I watched as school, grades, and their future became irrelevant and the pipe became their most prominent friend. I did not want to end up in a downwards spiral and drop out of school as my cousins and family members had done before me. My goal has always been to be the first person in my family to receive a higher education. I know that if I were to cho0se the easy road and ever to get involved with drugs, I would lose track of what really matters: education. While some look to drugs for an escape, I look to books and education. I yearn for an escape from not only my poor living situation, but also from the fear of ending up as another person with “a dream deferred.”
One learns not only from their family, but also from their close friends. As a freshman in high school I had a best friend who used marijuana, LSD, and other hallucinogens in order to escape her life at home. I watched as she became paranoid, and was eventually admitted into a mental hospital for hearing voices and becoming suicidal. I watched a strong girl become another victim of illegal drugs. Even more saddening, she wasn’t the only one that had been affected by drugs. The bunch of kids she hung out with were headed down the same path. Despite my advice and support, I knew the addiction was stronger than her desire to quit. Even though since she began using drugs daily she has built up a tolerance, she has yet to learn to cope with the real world without the aid of drugs.
I am blessed to have had and to currently have a great mentor, my father. My number one priority is not only to receive an education for myself, but also to bring some sort of joy and pride to my father. Unfortunately I know not everyone has a stable support system as I have had, which could be a contributing factor as to why some spiral into the escape drugs offer. I was taught to listen to my conscious and not do something I would be ashamed of telling my parents about. Despite peer pressure and the desire to fit in, I never tried drugs for the fear of one day disappointing my family and myself.
I am proud to say that to this day I have never abused illegal nor pharmaceutical drugs. Despite growing up thinking illegal drugs were the norm, I knew they did not fit into my plan of being successful. Getting an education and getting ahead will always be one of my top priorities; I cannot see myself being where I need to be with drugs in my life. Although financial difficulties have made my dreams of an education seem distant, I would never make them impossible by adding a drug factor into the mix. I’ve watched as drugs have made the lives of my former best friend, as well as my close cousins and distant friends much more complicated. Illegal drugs have caused the people around me to lose sight of their goals and dreams. My parents taught me to never lose sight of not only my goals and dreams, but also my morals and good conscious. Despite the fact that they are illegal, drugs cause harm to the one who consumes it, and those who care about that person. I’d never want to let my parents down; I’d never want to let myself down. I have far too many responsibilities and aspirations to be involved with illegal drugs, which could put my future in jeopardy. I do not abuse illegal drugs because I one day believe I will receive the great education I crave, because I have seen the effect they have had on those around me, and because I stay true to my values.