Vol. 6, No.1
Among this year's 1,238 members of the Class of 2012—that remarkable group of Arts and Sciences and Engineering students who flocked to campus in August after being selected from a record applicant pool of more than 16,000—is Jewel Edwards-Waldo, a first-generation college student and Baltimore Scholar with a professed love of writing, Hopkins, and most of all, her family.
By mid-September, Edwards-Waldo, 18, was fully immersed in her course schedule (introductory courses in fiction and poetry and the study of film, plus Greek philosophy, and language courses in Russian and Korean) and enjoying dorm life in Wolman Hall. "I love it here," she said. "I'm having a great time, and I love all my classes." She plans to major in the Writing Seminars (and maybe international studies) and is interested in a journalism career—a good fit for the former editor of Baltimore's Western High School student newspaper.
The oldest of six children, Edwards-Waldo is never far from her family, who lives in Mt. Washington and makes frequent visits to campus to see her. That's just fine by her; after all, her family is such a source of inspiration that she crafted the essay that follows about them as part of her Hopkins admissions application, in response to this question:
"Communities define our lives. Those you are born into, those you make yourself, and those you fall into by accident—communities of all types influence us and help shape us. Describe a defining community in your life and what it means to you."
It all began with that bleach stain on the right leg of those black corduroys. She was a young single mother working at a small company as a telemarketer. Loud, outgoing, and rambunctious, she was also fiercely protective of her only child, her infant daughter. He worked alongside her, observing her shenanigans, but also her devotion to her child. In every other way she was unpredictable, but as a mother she was responsible, tender, and dedicated. She would arrive to work day after day in the same black corduroy slacks.
Located on the bottom of the right pant leg was the tell-tale bleach stain, about the size of a nickel. In order to conceal the stain, she would religiously apply Maybelline Extended-Wear Waterproof Mascara (in the pink and green tube) to the discoloration so as not to bring attention to the fact that she had to wear them once again. After getting to know her better, he questioned her about her daily choice of apparel. She answered him truthfully: Nearly every penny she made was spent on the myriad of things needed to secure the welfare of her child for whom she was providing alone. After paying for diapers, formula, clothing, and childcare, there was virtually no money left to spend on such luxuries as new slacks for herself. It was her belief that in every aspect of her life, her child should come first. Attracted by the magnitude of love she displayed for her child, three years later he proposed and they, a young couple of 20 and 24, were officially established, July 9, 1993.
My mother no longer owns those black corduroy slacks, but she and my stepdad still have one another and five more children. Together they have instilled in us a belief system based on self-value, hard work, and determination, with the desired goal for each of us being a life led by purpose. Despite the fact that neither of them is college-educated, I am thoroughly convinced that they both have earned degrees in Creative Economics. My hypothesis is based on their theory that collectively within our home, sacrifices are to be made in order to obtain long-term needs rather than short-term desires. That is why, over the years, my four sisters, brother, and I have taken turns benefiting from tutoring, piano lessons, art instruction, and educational summer camps and programs while consistently being denied new furnishings, new toys, new clothes, cable television, and annual summer vacations.
My parents have attributed the expansion of our family over the years to the expansion of their views. Because of us they recognize time and its real value. That is why they now believe in religion, seatbelts, vegetarianism, mammograms, handwritten thank-you notes, anytime story time, and backyard campfires. From the experiences they have had in raising six unique children, they have now come to value individuality, asthma research, city-funded after school art programs, Christian athletic associations, natural remedies for ADHD, rock collecting, home-schooling, and an occasional parent-only getaway…(as if there is a need!).
Coming from a large family in a small house, I have mastered the art of patience, but have also learned to freely and sometimes loudly express my thoughts. I have no problem saying what I feel; in fact, public speaking is definitely not one of my weaknesses. That creative gene has definitely surfaced because I have a tendency to find uses for things other than their intended purpose; for the last two years, my book bags have been $1 Whole Foods sacks, despite the occasional ridicule of my classmates. I see it as serving a dual purpose, one being a book bag, the other as inexpensive advertising for my Health Nuts Club. Individuality was another trait that I inherited. It lay dormant until sixth grade, when I began to place my education second to my concern of what others were wearing. Detecting excessive conformity, my parents conducted an "experiment" that required me to wear the same outfit daily for an entire week. I grudgingly put on the outfit and a brave face. By the third day, the taunting had ceased, and by the fourth day the "uniform" appeared to go unnoticed by my peers, leading me to the realizations that (a) my life was not ruined, (b) a display of confidence is important in anything that one does, and (c) the primary purpose of attending school is to receive an education.
I am extremely grateful for my family. It is because of them that I now believe in prayer, education, solutions, consequences, loyalty, social awareness, new experiences, second chances, unconditional love, perseverance, differences, justice, truth, respect, laughter, preparations, crying, waiting, the future. Me.
Photo by Will Kirk