Without a scholarship, I would not have had the means to attend private school, which I view as one of the most critical aspects of my upbringing that shaped me into who I am today. I went to private schools my whole life. For a long time, my parents were able to afford the tuition costs without any assistance. But one day, my parents sat me down to have a talk with me; my dad told me that there had been a department closure at work, his salary would be decreased, and he would no longer be able to afford to send me to private school. I was devastated.
I come from a family of five, myself included. My parents have always prioritized my siblings and me and provided us with the best opportunities they could afford. I felt guilty for wanting to continue my education, especially if it meant my parents would have to work even more to do so. But I was desperate to stay on the educational path of my choice. The public schools in my neighborhood were great, but I wanted to meet a diverse range of people I didn’t live near and have programs and activities that weren’t offered at schools nearby. My parents and I desperately searched for a way to keep me in the school of my choice, and we were able to find and qualify for Iowa’s School Tuition Organization Tax Credit Scholarship.
The scholarship allowed me to continue my education in a place that I felt was best for me. The scholarship opened doors for me. I was able to explore career paths, meet new people, and try new activities that I would not have been provided with otherwise. When choosing a school, my family and I wanted somewhere where I could still practice my faith and grow as a person outside of just a school curriculum.
Education is one of the most critical opportunities a person has in life. Education means learning new skills and gaining knowledge about the world, others, and yourself. Education is a right, not a privilege; families should be able to exercise that right for whatever school is suitable for their child and their needs. No child should feel guilty for wanting to go to a school that works for them. External factors, including location or income, should not hinder children from getting an education that sets them up for success later in life.
Thanks to the schools I attended, I am now attending the University of Iowa and even getting involved in the political process. I cannot imagine what would have happened if I had never received that scholarship.