University prepares you for a lot of things. It prepares you for the world of work (to an extent), it prepares you for further education if that’s the route you want to take and it prepares you for the aspirations and dreams you never knew you had before university – but what it does not prepare you for is your family.
When you come from a working-class family where no one has gone to university before, it is not just about simply getting a degree. You are potentially taking yourself from a working class background to being middle class. You are opening your mind to different beliefs, practices and ideologies and your family is kind of on this journey with you, but they also kind of aren’t, and this can bring about several issues.
Growing up in rural Jamaica I was expected to be the best. I had gotten into a top school and my mother’s dream of me becoming a doctor had begun. I remember the day I passed my GSAT exams and got into my first choice, Hampton School. Within minutes of me finding out, my older sister asked me to put some towels away and when I refused, she immediately accused me of being “stuck up” because I passed for Hampton.
Such accusations from my family continued throughout high school, and even my friends shared similar experiences. It was a weird place to be; despite telling us we should apply and attend such a school and claiming to be proud of us for being there, our families would use our enrolment as the basis of all the grievances they had with us.