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I had just graduated from high school; a typical Santa Barbara local, with ambitions of attending SBCC. I always did fairly well in school, but was definitely more concerned with how the waves were breaking, instead how of my grades were. That all changed on June 15th. I got a call from a family friend asking if I would be interested in a summer job at a shipping warehouse in Carpinteria. My parents had been nagging me day in and day out to get a summer job, so this seemed so perfect. I accepted the job and my friend let me know I should show up at 7:30 Monday morning for my first day of work.
That Monday morning, I woke up late and stumbled out of bed, threw on some clothes and was out the door with no time for breakfast. I will never forget that car ride down to Carpinteria, and the anxious feelings I felt in my stomach. My mind was racing in a million different directions and I really had no idea what I was in for. Pulling up to the warehouse, I remember the cold wind blowing across my face, the distinct smell of ocean heavy in the air, and the flapping of the State Park flags in the distance.
The job description my friend gave me over the phone didn’t really stress how labor intensive it would be, so my first day I was in for quite a surprise. All day I was packing and carrying 60-70 lbs packages and not a minute went by where I didn’t regret taking my new job offer. Much to my surprise, my coworkers were all much older than me, and it was somewhat depressing to see people my parents and grandparents age doing such laborious work. One of my coworkers was an older woman named Maria, who sort of acted like the “mother” around facility.
She didn’t speak the best of English, but despite that, we quickly became friends, and shortly thereafter Maria began giving me all sorts of advice and pointers she thought would benefit me in life. Once she found out how old I was, she asked what my plans for school were. I let her know school wasn’t something I was too worried about but that I would be attending City College in the fall. The look on her face was unforgettable. She looked back at me and said “Sammy, School is the most important thing in your life”.
Maria went on to say “look around you; all these people have sad expressions on their faces. They didn’t have the opportunity you are blessed with. You need to realize school will lead you to a more successful and happy life. “That day on the drive home I looked out at the ocean and thought how nice it would be to have zero obligations anymore and just be able to hangout at the beach. It was at that moment that I actually realized that any dream is completely unachievable without vision, determination and hard work.
After my three months were up, my mindset towards school had completely changed. Maria’s words burned into my head that -I no longer thought of myself as a lazy surfer who just wanted the bare minimum, but rather as a determined young student. School used to seem like an inevitable obstacle you had to endure, but now I truly see the importance and value of an education. While I admired the work ethic of the people I worked with in the warehouse, I know that through higher education, there is better future for me.