Rishika Dugyala

August Story


 

After one of the best summers of my life, yes I shed some tears and yes, I threw myself into getting my trend story ready for publishing. Yes, I turned my focus toward the terrifying reality of college apps and college decisions. I also trained myself mentally and physically so I would be prepared for senior year.

At our school, being a senior comes with some perks, but only if you’re quick enough to make the best of these limited opportunities. For example, tables. Upperclassmen get first priority to eat brunch and lunch at one of the tables on campus. And the tables under the ‘senior section’ go the fastest. Because even though this is a privilege reserved specifically for the eleventh and twelfth grade students, combined, there are over 1,500 of us. So the tables we do have fill up in a blink of the eye.

The table war starts a week before the first day of school. We bring in locks, chains and string to group tables together so all of our friends can sit together, and to stake our claim. But even so, the first five days after school begins are spent cautiously and avidly guarding the tables we’ve claimed beforehand to make sure nobody else steals our spot.

And they will steal your spot. Milpitas High School students are ruthless. We are the best of the best at getting down and dirty. Numerous fights break out over the course of the first week over who got what table first. Friendships are strained, alliances broken and even the most casual of acquaintances turn into downright enemies.

And don’t even get me started on the new locker system our administration has implemented this year. In previous years, we were assigned lockers, with upperclassmen usually getting the top two rows. Now, all four grades had to compete with each other for the best locker spots. Some freshmen ended up with the good top lockers and some seniors had to share a locker with one of their friends to avoid being stuck with one of the dreaded bottom lockers.

It was ridiculous, it was chaos and it was a great experience.

So my time is spent on navigating my final year at the place that has helped me grow so much as a person academically and socially. It’s spent on vying for the coveted editor-in-chief spot in my journalism class, a decision my advisor does not make until six weeks into the school year. It’s spent on preparing to jump back into my job, teaching dance to kids and teenagers. I’m even getting involved in my district’s politics by volunteering and possibly interning with one of the candidates running for Congress. And yes, I’m still working on those terrifying college apps.

In all honesty though, cherubs hasn’t ended for me. I found some of my best friends in cherubs, and even now that we’re scattered across the country and don’t get to see each other on a daily basis, I know I can count on them for anything. I have faith that I can ask Sara Diaz for a college tip at odd hours of the night, still be Christian Paz’s life coach via text, and reminisce with Kathryn Tenbarge about the good old days when we ended up sleeping in the same bed for three weeks because we couldn’t get enough of each other’s company. And because cherubs was about my friends just as much as it was about being a great learning experience, I don’t think of it as ‘over.’ Because really, we have just begun.


 

September Story


 

This July, I interviewed a Northwestern University undergraduate student who gave me some insight on how difficult it was for Northwestern students in particular to cover miscellaneous expenses, especially with the competition for summer jobs. I also interviewed staff from the Northwestern University’s financial aid office for more information on how much help the students receive from the college itself. Check out my article below, which has all my findings!

 The difference between a home-cooked meal of organic vegetables and a $2 cup of soup is more apparent in today’s economy, especially for Northwestern University undergraduate students.

Food and gas prices are rising and for senior Megan Suckut, 21, last summer as an unpaid intern at a yoga magazine in town did nothing to help her bank account. Rather, the whole time she was stressing about how to afford on public transportation, meals and rent.

It’s not like Suckut wasn’t looking for income. She had applied at six places, knowing that with the number of Northwestern students applying for jobs and employers wanting people who could work past summer vacation, her chances were slim.

“Last summer, I was spending money that I made as a 15-year-old at my first job,” Suckut said. “And just knowing that, I was like, ‘yeah I’m glad 15-year-old me had a job, except I don’t have any money anymore because 20-year-old me had to spend that money to get by.’”

The job search is a struggle for many Northwestern students. The university provides career services for students and federal programs, like work study, to help those in need of financial aid get jobs. Yet only 2,200 of around 4,000 students needing aid qualify for work study because of the limited budget, coordinator Anne Horne said.

People who work on campus in the program earn $8 to $9 an hour, while those who work off campus earn $10 to $12 an hour. However, students can work no more than 15 hours a week. Many request that their work study allotment be increased by a couple hundred dollars fir the year, according to Richard Wilson, assistant director of Northwestern’s office of undergraduate financial aid.

“I did a work study with the Evanston public library last year.” Suckut said. “They didn’t really need another person, so they didn’t call me into work very often, and anything that wasn’t steady didn’t help much.”

Associate director for career development at Northwestern Tracie Thomas said her department provides students who don’t qualify for financial aid with internships and jobs. However, few students take advantage of the services soon enough to make an impact and many don’t realize how beneficial these services are.

This summer, Suckut is once again working as an intern for the yoga magazine but she also is a server at World of Beer. Her friend works there and notified her of the job opening. Now, rather than living off of her savings, Suckut makes at least $100 in tips per night while also getting paid $3 an hour. According to Suckut, most students, including herself, have to rely on connections to get well-paid jobs.

“I feel really lucky I have this job. Otherwise, it’d be a very different summer,” Suckut said. “If you don’t have money coming in from a steady income, you don’t do as good of a job in school. The stress of money hanging over your life really affects things.”


 

 

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