I decided to go back to school a little over a year ago to get my Master’s in Social Work. My program was a year but about midway the pandemic hit, and I found myself taking online classes and doing my mandated practicum online. As for my graduation, my family and I had it all planned out. We had the Airbnb booked and folks were starting to look at plane tickets. However, as you can imagine that didn’t happen.

To give you an idea of what actually happened, picture a not too shabby but not fancy apartment courtyard. You’ll find me and one of my classmates drinking margaritas from a local taco joint, with our laptop streaming our commencement ceremony. Fast forward to current day, where my family graduation ceremony was a sushi dinner with ice cream cake. I’m very lucky to have these people to celebrate this accomplishment of mine. But of course, it wasn’t what I was totally hoping for when I first entered school and patiently awaited my graduation. Nevertheless, as I look at this past Spring there are things I would have wanted to see happen, and now here in the present there are things I need to see happen.

I would have wanted my grandma to see me walk across that graduation stage and receive my diploma. My grandma is 95 years old and from a tiny little town in New Mexico. When she was of college age, she desperately wanted to go to school to become a teacher. And just knowing her, she would have been amazing at it. But her father, my great-great-grandfather, didn’t allow her to get the education she desperately wanted.

She decided to get married and as she was raising her 11 kids, she worked in a school setting in a multitude of roles. I really wanted her to see me get my Masters, and in a way, dedicate it to her. Her hard work and determination helped me get to where I am today, and I think those same qualities rubbed off on me. I am the product of my loving family, I really wanted them to see this achievement and share in the moment with me.

These days I’ve moved past what I would have wanted and am now looking to what I need. I’ve found myself as a recent grad in an era of a worldwide pandemic, all without healthcare. I can empathize with the millions of Americans who are uninsured; this bizarre limbo we find ourselves in, is scary and stressful. Praying to God nothing really bad happens and trying our hardest to take care of ourselves, but always knowing something could go wrong at any moment because that’s just how life works.

Yes, I can apply for Medicaid and look to receive healthcare through public programs. However, I am holding out for healthcare through my employer, if and when I get a job. It’s not that I feel I am above such things, it’s just that I want to be able to provide for myself and take care of my needs by myself. There is a level of self-pride and autonomy we gain form working when we can take care of ourselves, maybe even our families. This is what I really need right about now – that sense of self-pride and healthcare, frankly.