by Rachel Canouse
In the United States “Senioritis” is something that is joked about and used when talking about High school seniors who begin to “check out” or lose motivation during their final months before College (aka freedom/parties/being on your own/etc). I remember that during my senior year of High school “senioritis” hit HARD. I had basically lost all motivation to do anything school related and preferred to spend my time picking out cute decorations to put in my dorm room. It was such an exciting chapter of my life and I’m assuming that many of you reading this have had the same experience. The day I graduated from High school felt like a relief because I was finally going to be able to start, what I felt like was, the most exciting chapter of my life thus far. And it really was, which is why I was so excited to begin to work with Make a Miracle, giving scholarships to prospective college students in San Juan de Lurigancho, Lima, Peru.
Giving out scholarships for college also means getting to know and visiting the classrooms of students who were in their last months of high school. I would come to know many almost-graduates and would ask them various questions to get to know them better. As we would talk I would reminisce about my last year of high school and my “senioritis” which would always push me to ask the question “Aren’t you so excited to graduate high school?!” Surprisingly, most of their faces changed as they sadly told me “No.” I didn’t really understand why. I know that I am not the only one who has experienced “senioritis” so why is it that of the hundreds of students I have gotten to know down here, none of them seem excited to graduate high school?
And then one day it hit me. These Peruvian students don’t get the excitement of picking out a new rug for their dorm room. Or Facebook stalking who their roommate will be. Or even finding out what their “school colors” are, because, for most of them, they wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to college. In Peru, unfortunately, there is little to no chance to getting any sort of financial aid for college unless you are the top of your graduating class which means that, for so many of these students, the only thing that they had to look forward to is trying to figure out a way to help their family put food on the table. It helped me realize how fortunate and privileged I was to have “senioritis” and it inspired me to want to help give as many students as possible the same experience. When we tell a new student that they are going to receive a full scholarship from Make a Miracle, you can literally see their stress and fear of finishing high school melt away. Most of them begin to cry as they tell us that they will be the first person in their family to go to college, which means that they will be the ones to break the cycle of poverty within their family. They will literally transform, not only their opportunities, but also those of their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even beyond that. They are able to create a legacy of education and excitement, not fear, of the endless possibilities that their futures now hold.
Honestly, what better job could I have asked for? Being able to be a part of these students’ journey and watching them achieve something they never thought was attainable because of their circumstances is truly incredible. I have no doubt that our current 70 students who are on scholarships, as well as future “Make a Miracle” students, will have an amazing impact on positive changes for the future generations, breaking negative cycles and promoting the value and importance of education.
Rachel Canouse is an American who has lived in Peru for 2 1/2 years. She works for Make a Miracle as the Director of Global Relations and Program Development.