Valerie left this in our inbox yesterday, before we knew what today’s decision would be:
In January of 2010, I had landed a job as an assistant teacher for a preschool daycare program at my mom’s church. It wasn’t full-time, but it was sufficient, and I knew I’d enjoy playing with the kids, reading books to them and playing house and all. When I got there, though, I was told of a young boy in my class with leukemia.
The teacher explained to me that his parents’ insurance had kicked him off of their plan due to his disease, and as a result, he was getting worse. She informed me of what I would have to prepare for, and who to call if such-and-such situation occurred. It was all very daunting: when I was in kindergarten, one of my classmates passed away due to leukemia, so this was hauntingly familiar and incredibly frightening to me.
When I first saw the boy, I felt my heart twist. He was a very small boy for his age, with beautiful eyes and fine dark hair that had been growing back since the insurance company stopped paying for his chemotherapy. There was a nasogastric tube inserted into his nose, from the medical care that his parents were working so hard to give him out of their own pockets.
I began following the Health Care Debate very closely. I read up on everything. I studied and memorized lines and clauses from the bill itself, fact checked everything that I heard… It was when I began discovering my passion for politics. The injustices done to this little boy, who wasn’t even four years old at the time… I couldn’t stand for that. That should never have been allowed to happen.
What truly broke my heart was when, after a month of working there, the first words he ever said to me were, “I hate myself.” His voice was so soft. Hearing that was like having someone kick a brick wall into my chest. I couldn’t believe a three year old boy could ever say that. He went on to say his “lee-me-ah”, as he called it, made his parents so sad and made them cry. He began to cry and I hugged him, trying not to cry as well, trying to be strong for him… It was torture watching his cancer progress. I was there for him when he vomitted, I sat and read to him when he was so tired he could hardly move, when he couldn’t go out to recess with his friends…
Then, spring break week came around. I was on a skiing trip with my family and my boyfriend, but instead of being out in the snow, I was crying in front of the TV in our little apartment space, jumping up and down with excitement. It was Tuesday, March 23rd, and I had just watched President Barack Obama sign the Affordable Care Act. The second I heard the words, “It is law,” I just couldn’t contain myself. All I could think about was that boy with leukemia, and all the other children like him… Finally, they would see justice. They’d have a chance to live.
The insurance company decided to re-insure the boy soon after the law had passed, and he went back on chemotherapy. The last week of school, he arrived without the nasogastric tube, all smiles, and ran around with his friends a little bit. He has had his fourth and fifth birthdays because of Obamacare.
Mr. President, thank you so much. Thank you so very, VERY much. Words cannot describe how much I love you for all of the good that you have done. A little boy is alive because of you.
You are the first person I ever voted for. I will forever be proud of that.
What does today mean to you?
Who works a couple desks over, about your chance to meet both the president and the First Lady in one fell swoop. Really really.
I’m going to let you in on a secret:
Your chances of winning Dinner with Barack (and Michelle) are MUCH better than you might think.
I know, because my name was randomly selected. That’s because I donate at least once every time we do these contests just to check that the web site is working properly for you and everyone else.
Sadly for me and good for you, staff members aren’t eligible to win.
But if you were thinking you’re never going to get picked, take it from me and think again.
The flight’s free. We put you and a guest up in a hotel. The President has even been known to write a thank-you note for your babysitter.
This is the definition of nothing to lose. And, if you want to bring me as your guest, I’m game.
The contest ends tomorrow, so enter for the chance to have dinner with the Obamas.
Cat’s out of the bag,
I was born into the lower middle class, and have been there my entire life. I have 3 older siblings who all began getting into legal trouble at a young age. Any savings my parents had went to help paying off their court fines.
My dad was laid off when I was young and my mom worked 3 jobs to keep food on the table. Although my dad ended up finding work eventually, we never really fully recovered from the financial blow.
Halfway through my senior year, my dad died, leaving my mom and I with no savings. College seemed like it was out for me. That’s when my guidance counselor informed me of Financial Aid and Student Loans to help me cover the cost of tuition. Thanks to the loans, it helps me pay my tuition, books, and I have money to afford to live during the school year.
I’m investing in my future by taking out these loans, and if the interest rate is doubled, I’m going to be like my parents—working hard with nothing in return. I’m going to college to avoid that. I thank Obama for his efforts in keeping interest rates down for student loans—without him on my side, I don’t know how I’d be able to afford schooling.
Student loan interest rates go up in 6 days if Congress doesn’t act. Tell them to get to work.
My son has just received word that he has been approved to receive Pell Grants for both semesters of the 2012-13 year. As a single mother, I cannot tell you how much this means to me, as well as my son. He has dreams of teaching English as a second language, and thanks to the help this grant will give us, we have the help we need to make that dream become a reality.
This is a family who is thankful to know that our President is on the side of students who are trying to better themselves.
I was an unexpected child born to two teens. My mom went back to get her GED when I was five and my dad got on at TWA. It seemed that things were going well and we moved into a house in a safer part of town and one more room to accommodate our family’s new addition, my sister. After 9/11, my dad was laid off and was unemployed for almost an entire year. My mom had to give up her love of hairstyling and get a “real” job working the phone lines of an insurance company. Several family tragedies later and years of trying to keep our house and my parents trying to work out their now-abusive marriage, my parents finally divorced, filed for bankruptcy, and our house was foreclosed on. I spent months living with relatives and hopping from bed to bed (often couch to couch) until I was able to land a job and move out on my own.
I took a chance when I chose to attend one of the best schools in St. Louis. I graduated high school with a 4.2 GPA and felt that I deserved to go to a good school, even if it meant paying for it. I received one of the highest academic scholarships offered, but it still wasn’t enough to cover everything. Federal and state grants have allowed me to get the most out of my education and return every year with lower debt than I could have ever expected. Because of the aid I’ve received, I’m even going to be able to study abroad next year!
And sure, I work 40 hours a week at 19 years old and I’m taking the maximum credit hours available per semester, but I’m loving every minute of it! I know that I’m ultimately a harder worker and better person because of these grants and I feel that finally, finally all my hard work is paying off!
Needless to say, I’m proud that my first vote cast in a presidential election will be for President Obama because I know that he’s looking out for people like me.
When the economy spiraled, my parents were hit hard. They’ve had to declare bankruptcy, and things are very tight. I’ve had a crazy road through college - I had to leave the school I was in (it was too expensive), start over at community college, and I was recently accepted to a four year. The only way I’ll be able to afford it is through loans and Pell grants. And I really, really want to get my degree.
It makes my heart swell every time our President talks about affording college. It’s something I’ve been working so hard for, and the only way I’ll be able to get through college is if people in power - like him - believe in all the struggling people like me.
That’s one of the reasons he’s got my vote. He actually believes in investing in people’s futures.
President Obama is urging Congress to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling for 7 million people on July 1—make sure your legislators hear from you.
I was born to two immigrant parents who instilled the importance of education in me from the very start. It’s always been my priority, and I’ve always given my all in order to excel at it.
My family has been below the poverty line for over five years now, and after I graduated high school last year, it scared me that college, my life-long goal, may not even be a possibility.
My parents encouraged me to apply, regardless of the numbers. I’ll be starting my second year at Penn State studying architectural engineering in the fall, thanks almost entirely to the federal aid I got through the FAFSA.
Not everyone has the luxury of coming from a family that can cover all your college expenses. Federal aid is essential for a bright future for coming generations.
Got a student loan story?
I am the eldest daughter of two awesome parents-a disabled Marine Corps vet and a lovely, witty, hardworking woman. It means a lot to me to be the oldest child and I try to set an example for my sister by working hard and staying on top of my school work. I started college in the fall of 2011 and while money was extremely tight, my parents scrounged up everything they could to send me to a private university. The federal student loans I received covered a big part the bill that my parents chose to take on for me.
Now, this year, with my mother also going to school full time (and a little sister starting next year), extra money is more scarce than ever. Our estimated family contribution is just a fifth of what it was last year. I have a very small state scholarship, but to be frank, I need my Pell grant to get through school. Combined with my state scholarship, the Pell grant pays for everything I need except for books. My mom received one that pays her full tuition at community college and we couldn’t have been more relieved that a little bit of the burden was taken off our shoulders.
I work, she works, and together we use all of our craft and ingenuity to make ends meet. These federal loans and grants are keeping me in school right now- without them I would be working 9-5 every day and picking up a few credits a semester every now and then.
Times are very tight, but without having to worry about working to pay next month’s tuition bill, I’m on track to graduate a year early and able to focus on my plans for graduate school.
Seeing the post about Pell Grants and student loans, on today of all days, kind of got me a bit. I started my morning with a call from the company that holds one of my private loans coming after me for a missed payment. Why did I miss this payment? Because I can’t afford their crazy interest only payments, and the company won’t let me change my payment plan in any way, and the payments go up to over $200 a month in a few months. I work 20 hours a week while doing 20 hours of school full time as well during the school year, and during the summer? I’m working close to 40 hour weeks, and this is for one $13,000 loan on interest only payments while in school.
If it weren’t for federal loans? I wouldn’t even be able to afford to go to school.
Thank you President Obama for looking out for all of us students, young and old, freshmen and seniors. For understanding that it is tough for us to get in, tough for us to find money, tough for us to graduate.
I attend a university that costs more in tuition than my entire family makes in a year. Pell grants and student loans are the only reason I’m able to attend school. Supporting a family while living below the poverty line is not easy, and I’m thankful for everything my parents have done for me on a daily basis.
But I know they just don’t have the means to send me to school. President Obama, thank you for sending me to school. It brings tears to my eyes knowing that you and your administration continue to fight for my, and my generation’s, future.
Speaking of fighting—everybody take a second to tell Congress not to double federal student loan interest rates on July 1.
Growing up as the daughter of two teen parents I never thought I’d go to college. Without federal student aid I wouldn’t have gone to college and found a career that I love. Not only that, but the thought of me going to college encouraged both of my parents to as well. I am proud to say that my mom, who got her B.S. in 2007, will be my walking partner next year as she receives her Masters degree and I my Bachelor’s. My father and brother are also college students.
My family who lived our lives toeing the poverty line, will all be college graduates because we have access to higher education. We all have gotten better jobs and fulfilling careers as a direct correlation to our education. The next generation of our family will be better off because of it.
Have student loans and Pell Grants helped you go to college? Leave a note in our inbox.
Obama campaign calls my house asking if I want to volunteer. I said “I’m not sure right now.”
5 minutes later: I registered as a volunteer on Obama’s website.
I guess if I don’t have a job, I should do something, right?
Moral of the story: never ask me to make a quick decision. I can barely make decisions when in line for food.
We’re just glad you landed at “yes”!