Money or Education: Follow Your Dreams at All Costs

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 16:36 Written by  Sydney Corryn

As a 19-year-old student, last summer consisted of spending over $60 a week on gas and praying that God would somehow touch my bank account. As an intern for former Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, now Cook County board president, I scraped for cash. I quit my dead-beat job at the end of July at Wal-Mart, because I wanted to take advantage of this grand opportunity. I knew my journey at Wal-Mart was coming to an end. I wanted to learn the ropes of political campaigns and community organizing. I can honestly say the experience was beyond amazing. Working in the political field opened my eyes to possible career opportunities, different lifestyles and sharpened my leadership skills.


Most teenagers and college kids can’t say they enjoyed the same luxuries as I have because there is no emotional support, no financial support and no understanding from families. Cities across the nation are filled with growing children who have dreams but lack the tools necessary to achieve their goals. They have aspirations but give up when leaders turn the other way or when parents refuse to put faith in their hopes and dreams. Monetary resources often predestine a student’s life or legacy. Struggling families force students to chase money instead of following their desires, meaning working a mediocre job instead of taking an internship.

One of the deciding factors is financial dependency. Instead of forward thinking, young people and families prefer that students work instead of being involved in a program or an internship. Sadly, most internships are unpaid, making it difficult for middle and low-income students to make ends meet. These students are just praying for their tuition bill to be covered.

Internships are programs that allow students and young adults to undergo training with a certain organization, company or publication in exchange of steady income. Networking and connections are often vital in an ever-moving economy and competitive job market we face today. In some cases, a recommendation or friendship will benefit students in the long run versus working at Target or the local fast food joint.

Parents are reluctant to give extra money to young adults for numerous reasons. One reason is that they just cannot afford it. This reason is valid and understandable but that is why we save in advance for our children’s’ future. Short-term thinking not only creates barriers for us, but our children who suffer because there are no financial resources.

The second reason is that most old-school parents or teenagers for that matter are not fans of free labor. It is simply because they are too narrow-minded to comprehend the long-term benefits that will equate to more money. In these situations, I wish parents were more like my mother who is a single mom but sacrificed, scraping up change to fill my gas tank. She did it daily, but never complained because she knew the seed she was planting for 20 years would flourish. Minority communities thirst for this type of family unit and unwavering faith. It is about working smarter not harder. Financial support and planning are important but are not the strongest traits to drive success for the next generation.

Emotional and mental reinforcement is the foundation of greatness. Physically and emotionally broken homes plague households in every neighborhood. The saying, “It all starts at home,” may seem cliché but it’s true. As children develop and learn, parental involvement is essential. There are minds waiting to burst on various levels on every block, but there is no comfort in the home. If they make a mistake they don’t learn from it, but they go find another way to mess up. It’s not stupidity or lack of common sense but guidance. Not only do children need to be exposed to culture and books, but they should also learn to make good choices and follow their dreams.

During the transition into adulthood is when people are soul-searching. Seeking to find their identity in a society where labels are more common than a birthright. As they avidly explore, it’s crucial they receive emotional support to lift up their spirits when they hit dead ends or can’t make sense of life. Without a positive force in their environment, it’s a difficult task for them to overcome, accomplish and achieve.

Every single element works together to create a sense of security between the parents, which enable communication, and direction in their life. I say to other young adults, if you have to, be your own cheerleader. Remind yourself to work hard now and to play harder later. Parents, I say remind your children you will always wipe their tears, give them tough love and emphasize, “Do not get weary in well-doing for in due season you will reap if you don’t lose heart.”

My life is a testimony about the combination of how faith, financial and emotional support can transform a directionless young adult into someone who has a clear path for her future. Everything came from faith my mother instilled in me as a teenager. So I charge you, to go out and explore. Think about your ambitions and what steps will lead you to your dreams. Just walk by faith.


Photography by GMO Photo Editor Billy Montgomery

Sydney Corryn

Sydney Corryn

Sydney Corryn is a recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a degree in journalism. Her interests range from socioeconomic problems, culture, traveling, dysfunctional political campaigns, and of course, Chicago's nightlife. She hopes to use her communication skills and passion for community issues to create a career for herself.  She will be teaching English in Chile for six months starting the end of June, 2012.

Sydney can be contacted at Sydney@glossmagazineonline or