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Finally, after five years, I’m about to graduate from Eastern with a bachelor’s degree! With this great success so close at hand, I look back thankfully at those who helped get me here.I want to thank my teachers and counselors throughout the years, for convincing me that working hard and advancing in my academia would somehow lead to fulfillment later in life, both financial and otherwise.

Without the encouragement of the authorities that I respected and trusted, I may not have spent thousands of dollars and half a decade of my life toward a degree that is, apparently, completely meaningless and worthless to employers.

I thank those who came before me and paved the way – coming into my school and telling me of their great successes that they attributed to their academic career. They spun tales of great reward and showered me with promises of a life filled with love and abundance.

They lied to me.

Now, I am 23 years old. I have no real world experience, no family to fall back on, and an abundance of nothing but shame and debt. I spend my weekends sifting through thousands of job applications for jobs that would make me miserable – if only I qualified for them.

In three weeks I am expected to start paying back my student loans. If the bank won’t accept food stamps, I don’t know what to do.

So thank you. Thank you friends, family, and everyone I looked up to who convinced me that college was an investment. Thank you for pressing me to do my best so that I could get into a good school. Thank you for telling me every day that it would all be worth it in the end.

Thank you for stealing five years of my life, who knows how many thousands of my dollars, and all of my self-respect and resolve. I’m sure that piece of paper will have been worth it all, from this day until my last, which will probably be sometime this year, alone and homeless and starving in the streets.

On a side note, I’d like to genuinely and non-sarcastically thank the faculty and staff of Eastern, and more specifically Dr. Whitlock. Even though I am terrified, full of despair, and possibly a few months away from actual homelessness, I had an amazing time at Eastern and your roles in my life were worth more than I can realize at this scary time. Thank you for 5 years filled with joy and important life experiences (even though those 5 years apparently do not qualify me for any professional jobs in America).

Brandon Burtner
Eastern student