Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Even in crisis, U.S. is the best place to be


Having been accepted into the University of Arizona recently, I was feeling a wave of relief that I no longer had to worry about the dreaded admissions process.

“Getting in” was no longer an issue, and I prepared to focus on finding money to pay for school.

Then things went awry. Global financial crisis, mounting state budget deficit, people losing jobs, economy slowing – all the ingredients for an uncertain future in higher education.

The Arizona Legislature’s plans to cut the budgets of the three state universities have been making headlines for a couple of weeks.

After scouring the Internet in search of answers, all I could come up with is that legislators plan to cut between $200 million and $600 million from the three universities.

People were not happy. There were protests all over the state, calling for a revision of the plans. Where the recession seemed distant and inconsequential to me a month ago, the reality was finally hitting home.

Commenting on the effects these cuts could have, officials from each university said they would try to minimize the impact on academics by cutting administrative jobs and making better use of the money, supplies and personnel that they would keep.

In less-than-perfect scenarios, however, tuition increases seem a very real possibility, while worst-case (but very plausible) scenarios could mean closing university campuses.

As I’m reading about all the ways these events could play out, I am once again reminded of why people come to this country.

At just the suggestion of cutting funds from education, Americans spring to their feet in protest. I find this very inspiring, especially since not all the protesters were students.

There were other people, too; people who had already made their careers but were not ready to let the next generation be denied their promise of opportunity.

I went to school in Mexico for a little while, so perhaps that’s why I see it as such a wonder.

That’s not to say the Mexican government doesn’t take care of its schools, but it simply does not have the money to outfit the classrooms with all the equipment that seems commonplace here.

So now that I’ve been accepted, I have to worry not only about paying for school, but also whether everything I was promised in the brochure will be a reality by the time I enroll.

Not only that, but with the current state of things, competition for scholarships is going to be fierce as more and more students vie for a limited number of awards.

Oddly enough, I don’t mind.

This is still the country of opportunity, and in a global financial crisis, there’s no other place I’d rather be.

Teen columnist Erick Vega is a senior at Flowing Wells High School.

E-mail: somekidvega@hotmail.com

As I’m reading about all the ways these events could play out, I am once again reminded of why people come to this country.

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