By Rachel Monge

The coronavirus took away my prom, graduation ceremony and my 18th birthday party. Although, those were once in a lifetime moments I would not ask for them back but instead I would ask for the rest of America to wake up and move forward.

I’ve been working part-time at a grocery store since the summer of my junior year. However, the pandemic closed down my mother’s factory and I was left to work full-time to keep our household afloat. Working 6 days out of the week during this crisis has built up a lot of emotions in me. Additionally, receiving google classroom notifications from my teachers was the feather that broke the camel’s back.

To begin, my job has recently given us the freedom to wear regular jeans at work, perks for putting our lives at risk. They’ve also been buying food for all of their employees and gave us a $2 raise. However, with all these great benefits also came a vital realization; capitalism really just keeps people busy by making us struggle to meet our basic needs. When we are struggling to survive we do not have time to be politically active or pursue a degree. Therefore, I do not have time to do most of my government assignments or any other classwork. I am so busy, trying to make sure I’m working and doing it in the safest manner possible to make sure my family and I survive, affecting my distance learning participation.

To be clear, the problem is not that I have to work because the truth is I don’t mind working. Working hard is all I’ve ever known whether it was in the classroom or at a gym, I’ve learned to love each of my crafts. What bothers me is that those not comfortable enough to work do not have the opportunity to stay home because the 1,200 stimulus check isn’t enough for their bills. I am bothered that my co-workers have to risk their lives not because they want to but because they have to. I’m bothered that I cannot focus on my studies. I say this not with spite but to bring awareness. During this crisis young adults, attempting to help their parents, are putting their education on pause. Mothers, uncles, brothers like my coworkers are risking their lives to put food on the table. Small businesses are losing their source of income and families losing lives, now more than ever we must unite and fight for our individual rights. No individual should ever choose between their survival and their education, no individual should ever have to choose between paying off their financial dues or their survival. This is America- the land of the free and that’s what we should be aiming for.

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