There are so many stories. While we’ve heard a lot from workers not being paid during the shutdown, we’ve also heard stories of people who don’t work for the government but are still impacted. Take those waiting on college grants, many are now in a state of limbo. The following is a guest post from a News & Guts reader waiting on her grant. She hopes to get Republicans in Congress (and beyond) to read her story and understand the widespread ramifications of the shutdown:
I am one of your constituents. I was raised in a middle-class family and did very well in school. I received a scholarship to one of the nation’s top universities and always thought of myself as a capitalist and a conservative.
This changed the day that my TA (teacher assistant) raped me in college. I was raised in a Christian home where I was taught to keep my virginity until marriage. This event shook me and despite knowing all the facts, I still blamed myself for days. When I finally worked up the nerve to talk about it, my Dean told me that time had passed, physical evidence couldn’t be obtained, and because I had a dating relationship with him back in high school, I was unlikely to be taken seriously in a he said/she said trial. So he discouraged me from reporting. This is why I didn’t.
I tried my very best to stay strong and do well in this academically rigorous school where 1 in 3-4 admitted students make it to completion, but it was hard. He was still my TA. We still had a history and a friendship, so everywhere I went reminded me of time we had spent together or had the potential to be somewhere I would run into him. Eventually, I dropped out of school. It was just too much to take.
I have spent the last decade or so working several jobs. I even moved all the way across the country for a fresh start. Without a degree, there is very little opportunity. Even administrative and secretarial positions now require degrees along with experience and good references. I currently work 3 jobs and still struggle to put a roof over my head.
I have tried to hold to my fiscal conservatism and have not applied for any benefits aside from healthcare. I only claim 1 allowance on my taxes. I work very, very hard and budget exceptionally well. I challenge others to live in Orange County, CA while making less than $19,000 per year and drawing no benefits. It takes skill and smarts and work ethic.
I say all of this to bring you to the government shutdown and beg you to end this.
You see, after a decade, I have finally found the strength to go back to school. I have finally realized that I do not have to continue letting this trauma determine the course of the rest of my life. I worked with the Dean of a state college here. I have the opportunity to return to school and continue my education in the field of Computer Science with a focus on Cyber Security.
There’s just one problem. I cannot afford this without grants. I am qualified for grants based on low income, returning student funds, being a woman… who is also going into STEM. I would very much like to begin my education but grants are considered a nonessential part of government, so until the shut down ends I am once again waiting on a group of men in a position of power over me to make a decision that will affect my future.
Please do not let me down when I have finally found the strength to get up again. Please end this shutdown so that people like me, your good and hardworking American constituents, can continue to live and thrive in this great country. If you truly believe in a great and strengthened America, that starts with a country that recognizes the needs of the average citizen are important… more important than playing politics with someone who throws a tantrum that negatively affects every single citizen in the country he has sworn an oath to lead and protect. I beg you to make the right decision here. Stop playing politics at the cost of the American people and end this shutdown.