By Luz Victoria
At school I have heard my peers talking about Bernie’s visit to National City and they are excited. I can’t help but think about how National City is known for its poverty, and we would never have imagined a political name as big as Sanders planning to visit a place where the youth are predominantly black, brown, and Filipino students.
I’m a freshman in high school, and I’ve never been interested in a presidential race until now. When Sanders first announced he was running for president of the United States, I didn’t think he would make it this far, let alone influence young people the way he has. Since the start of his campaign Sanders has given students like me a sense of hope, especially with regards to our educational future. Regardless of what happens next, even after these elections, I intend to hang on to that positive message for as long as I can.
I appreciate his stance all the more because he has not backed down even after all the criticism. It scares me that college tuition is so high and student debt in the U.S. is such a problem. His plans for students seeking higher education are the most progressive and life changing ideas among all the candidates. I view his policies as eye-opening and fundamental to my plans in the sense of me wanting to continue my education after high school.
Within my classrooms and my community I often hear friends debating about whether on not to go to college. Not because of the disinterest in studying, or the idea of having to deal with more teachers for another four (or more) years of our lives, but doubting college because of the money involved. Rarely do I meet a student who doesn’t worry that their family income will not be enough to cover the expenses of attending a college or university in California.
This concern is real, considering how attending a university like UC San Diego can be more than $25,000 dollars per year for a California resident, a sum of money that I can’t fathom spending on my education. Yes, resources such as student loans and scholarships are available, but it still makes it unimaginable for the child of a working class family to receive a good college education without going into debt.
Even with the many obstacles a student of my age feels about the future, I intend to go to a top university no matter what. Still, even though I’m doing everything I can to get ready to make my plans a reality (4.0 GPA, student leadership, community service and sports) the money scares me too much. We aren’t living in poverty; my family is working class. Listening to the Sanders’ educational plan makes me, and millions of other students, enthusiastic about the possibility of going to school without going into debt.
We have come to realize that this presidential election has been like no other. Not only has Sanders’ progressive attitude set him apart from the other candidates like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but the overall mood of this race been intense, interesting, and even appalling for many of us in the U.S. Trends such as “Dump Trump” and “Birdie Sanders” circulate across social media, making political topics more accessible and appealing to young people across the United State. I hope we can expect much more youth participation and volunteer work this year, particularly in the Bernie Sanders campaign.
Students like me must continue to be vocal about the need for social and political change within our school campuses and in the entire country. Topics such as higher education, the LGBTQ rights, racial justice, and a better immigration system without deportations are all topics that Bernie Sanders has engaged with and I thank him for it. I support his vision of a potentially more progressive and equal country.
Luz Victoria Simón Jasso is currently a 9th grader at High Tech High Chula Vista. She originally wanted to publicly thank Bernie Sanders for his inspirational campaign by sending a letter to the Union Tribune, but her parents suggested she try the San Diego Free Press instead.