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My Self and Schooling

Serena's picture

Hello, everyone -


My name is Serena, I am 19 years old and live with my mother and cousin in Paulsboro, New Jersey, which lies on the Delaware River across from Philadelphia. Although I lived in other similarly small towns throughout New Jersey in my childhood,  I found my home here in the most fundamental years of my upbringing. Paulsboro is nearly equally black and white, with a handful of Asian residents. Here everyone is around the same social class, with some of the more affluent are able to take vacations in other states or own more than one car. There is a sizeable section 8 (government assistance housing) "manor" across from one of the two elementary schools.

I attended the Paulsboro public school system in elementary school from grades 3 to 5, before being placed into a local Catholic school and finally into homeschooling following an injury to my neck and back. In homeschooling I learned very little and insisted upon being placed back into "regular" school after 9th grade. My mother and I decided that I would not attend Paulsboro High School; most graduates attended community college or, at best, Rutgers University (the state university of New Jersey) and I had decided that I would take nothing less than University of Pennsylvania (my taste has since changed).

Thus I came to a high school in Wilmington, Delaware, which boasted an excellent education, students who went on to the Ivy League, small class sizes, and generous financial aid. What I did not realise coming into this school was that with its staggering tuition and full 20% "students of diversity" came attitudes of privilege and assimilation. This being clearly not the right school for me - a student of mixed races who is middle-class at best - I learned my greatest lessons in the social interactions I had with fellow students and class-conscious teachers alike.

What I hope most to gain from Bryn Mawr is a softened armour, a heightened willingness to allow myself to participate openly in social interaction such that I can allow myself to fully benefit from the excellent education I am being offered without being distracted by issues of the community. What I hope to gain from In Class/Out Classed is how the ways in which we identify and classify ourselves affect our experience, specifically education, on a larger scale, and the trends that lead to experiences such as my own.


CliffsNotes version: My name is Serena, I'm 19, from New Jersey, and went to a crucible of a high school but now hope to turn that experience around.


Thanks for your patience in reading this!

- Sx


S. Yaeger's picture

Serena, I had a very similar


I had a very similar experience with an expensive private school.  I'm also hoping that my experiences here at Bryn mawr will change some of my attitudes toward class.