My name is Jessica Jackson and I am a Criminal Justice major at Wayne State University. I came to WSU with negative expectations, not for the University, but for myself. I never thought I would get past my first semester. My ACT scores weren’t that great and according to those scores, I was not “college ready”. So I came expecting to fail so badly that they would have no choice but to kick me out. Five and a half years later, I am months away from graduation. I have maintained excellent grades and have come to love Wayne State University.
Throughout my time at WSU my parents have not been able to support me. Neither of them have jobs and they struggle with their own problems. Around my third year I got a job on campus to help support myself and cover extra tuition costs and for a while that worked. And then I got to my last semester with only four credits left and everything changed.
With only four credits left, I was ecstatic. I was so close graduation that I could picture it. And then the reality of financial aid hit me. I realized that if I didn’t attend full time I would end up owing the University over $1200. Around this time my lease was set to expire, so I would be homeless. I did not have a car and because of my status as a student I could only work part-time hours. I knew that I couldn’t afford to pay off that much money, not in time to graduate. I was afraid that all of my hard work had been for nothing and I would not be able to walk across the stage.
Desperate, I applied to the HIGH Program but I never really expected anyone to help me. Even when I submitted my plea, I never thought anyone would actually answer. So when I got an email saying that the HIGH Program would pay off my entire balance I was stunned. I read it repeatedly thinking, “This can’t be for me.” But it was. Graduation has been a goal that I have worked hard on for over half a decade. The HIGH Program did for me what I thought no one else could. They have allowed me to be a first generation college graduate. Despite many years only being able to depend on myself, Wayne State University’s HIGH Program has shown me that someone else was willing to help if I just asked.