Hey Mr. Scott,
A few months ago, I hated you.
When you showed up at our school and dropped your bomb on us, I appropriately felt my whole world shatter around me. Everything I had spent the last ten years working towards, the future I was counting on, that my family was counting on, I thought was gone, blasted away by your irresponsibility, left in ruins of disrepair among the billowing clouds of black smoke I felt inside.
Later that day, when the school day ended and I found myself disinterested in my regular after-school activity of tutoring the younger kids of my community, and still harboring so much anger I didn't know what to do with, I almost reverted back to the delinquent kid I was before you showed up at our classroom ten years ago. I nearly hopped the bus to your office, to give you a piece of my mind through some act of violence, the kind I grew up witnessing in my neighborhood on a daily basis.
But that wasn't who I was anymore. Because of you and the pledge that was to change my life, or so I thought, I long ago took a hard left when I could have gone right.
You don't know this because I was a real charmer and could fool anyone, case in point, you thought I was so smart and so cute. But truth was, I was lazy and failing multiple subjects and causing all kinds of trouble on the playground and in the school halls. I had no outlet for all the spunk you said you saw in me that day.
I may have been just a little kid, but somehow, I knew you were offering us something special, a reason to work at something, to dig deep inside to pull out the potential you saw in me, in all of us. It was just the kick I needed to get motivated, to do better at school, to find an outlet by taking up the saxophone and using my wit to write stories instead of hurling wisecracks at the teachers.
I'm glad to say, I didn't do anything that December day that I might come to later regret. I skipped the tutoring gig, but I went home and played my sax instead. I knew I'd come too far to stop working hard, even if my dreams of going to U Penn, or any other decent college, were no longer feasible.
I sent in my applications anyway, just to see what could have been. I had to rework the essay, since hey, the event that sparked my period of personal growth, you entering my life, was also the thing I felt had destroyed my life at that time.
Mr. Scott, I want you to know that last week I got accepted into the University of Pennsylvania. I've never seen my parents so proud of me. I've never seen my teachers so proud of me. I've never been so proud of me. But it was also like another kick in the gut, knowing we could never afford it. We had made no plans to save for college of any kind, since you were going to be taking care of that. But strangely, as mad as I wanted to be with you, I felt myself instead feeling grateful to you. I know it was because of you I learned that with hard work and perseverance I could accomplish so much. I even got myself into an ivy league university. And though the only school I thought I could afford would be community college, I was determined to go there and do my best and see where it might take me.
But that's not where my story ends. Yesterday, I learned that due to my family's financial situation, the tuition, room, board, even my books at U Penn are covered by a grant for low-income families.
Yes, you read that correctly. I, Mikela Lasker, will be headed to the University of Pennsylvania in the Fall. You may not have been able to pay for my college, but you still helped to get me there, for free, and I can't thank you enough for making my dream come true.
Mr. Scott, you are and always will be my guardian angel.
U Penn, Class of 2014