Alumni, students, college dropouts — all value college degree

By Treanna Brown
Flapjack staff

Did you know that for every $600 a high school graduate makes, a college graduate makes about $1,300? Those are numbers cited in a recent story at CNN.

There has always been a debate when it comes to rather or not a person should have a college degree and if that degree grants them success in life. For this story, three individuals were interviewed — a post grad, a sophomore in college and someone who has never been to college before. All interviewees were asked the same prompt: How do you feel about a college degree versus no degree. Do you think a person can successfully live life without a degree ? Does a person have an advantage over others because they have a degree?

 Humboldt State University alumna Fabiola Mendoza discussed her experience.

“You can go to college and get a degree and it will give you a leg up in society opposed to someone who doesn’t have one at all,” Mendoza said. “But having a degree doesn’t mean that you’ll be stable, I’ve been in that position before. I was a good student, A-B average, various campus jobs, I was a student activist but I did experience a period of unemployment.”

Mendoza now works in the EOP/SSS department at Humboldt State, with her various connections she was able to join this team shortly after she graduated. But it’s not always that simple.

“You have to find a job market that best fits you because you will find yourself being told you’re overqualified especially in Humboldt County,” she said. “And then you get rejected for the job because they don’t want to have to pay you more than they are offering.”

Mendoza said that networking is an important part of the college experience.

  “When you graduate you will start at the bottom of the barrel unless you know people,” she said. “You have to work harder to get where you want to  be especially if you’re a minority because a degree doesn’t guarantee you a job. When you graduate college people have this expectation (up until they graduate) that you will automatically be able to find a job once you graduate, but that’s not the case. Everything is about who you know.”

Though even people with no degrees are able to succeed in life, Mendoza said, it’s better for you to have a degree.

Humboldt State University student Amber Johnson said students today experience different kids of success.

“So many teens are now using social media, reality television and music as an outlet for success,” Johnson said. “The circumstances of life are all different compared to past generations, we may have more affordable access to higher education but we are not taking advantage of this.”

Johnson said she feels like this new generation doesn’t take higher paying jobs that a degree can get you seriously.

“I do believe though that with a college degree you’re expanding your knowledge and with that expansion, it makes you want to go after the good jobs,” she said. “With no degree you’re limited to what you can do, and this where the different outlets for success that I talked about come into play.”

Johnson mentioned that wanting a degree first comes from a person’s determination/ seriousness.

Xiomara Motavo, who completed one semester at community college before taking a break from school, agreed.

“I wish I would’ve stayed in school, because now I’m stuck working at Starbuck’s until I find the energy to go through 4 years of school and get my degree,” Motavo said. “ If you have a college degree you’re more a priority than anything else. You’re more inclined to get a job especially if your degree pertains to the job.”

Having a degree, Motavo said, makes it seem like you’re more serious about the job.

“Not just anyone will go to college and get a degree only someone who is determined takes that time and effort,” Motavo said. “When employers look at your resume they can tell that you want the job more than someone who is less qualified than you because they look at that resume as a handbook for you, as an insight on what they are taking on compared to someone who has nothing but irrelevant jobs on their resume.”

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Professor, students speak out on inequities with criminal justice system

By Treanna Brown
Flapjack staff

Many people play a role in the continuing cycle of the criminal justice system from those who are being incarcerated to those who fight for a change. This story examines three individuals with differing roles in the criminal justice system.

Meredith Williams, a criminal and justice studies professor at HSU, says that her upbringing in Salt Lake City, Utah, shaped her into the person she is today.

“People at church looked down at my family because my mom had to work—we wouldn’t have had food if she didn’t,” Williams said. “But they told us that made her a bad mother. Even as a small child, this really bothered me.”

Williams said she now appreciates that experience.

“It made me notice inequality and injustice from childhood,” she said. “I grew up with a very strong sense of justice. My parents will tell you that I would argue about everything if I saw it was unfair. If I saw someone getting bullied, I’d step in and use my sarcastic mouth to scare them off.”

Williams has always had a sense of doing what she felt was right  instead of what’s in style. With the ability to relate to those in the Criminal Justice, Williams explained her views that if numerous people in the same position are coming out of, say, prison, with the same outcome, a problem exists within the system.

Mia Williams

Mia Williams of Clark Atlanta University,  is from Oakland, California.

“Although I was raised in a place that encouraged young black kids to strive and be great, but sold the dream of one day you’ll be behind bars,” Mia Williams said. “I choose to take a different road and aspire to change the stigmas that kids from Oakland are not just criminals and dangerous people.”

Throughout her childhood, Mia Williams has seen how her peers who were connected, acted and were treated by people. She was raised in a single parent household with her older brother, and her mother worked enough to be able to provide for her children, all while raising them “properly” giving them the correct guidance.  As a young women representing her city, Mia Williams makes sure that she moves cautiously because as a young black woman she feels that she has a target on her back. She strives to build herself up so she never has to come across the authorities.

Antoinette Saddler holds a rally to speak out against police violence.

Antoinette Saddler, is a 23-year-old also from Oakland, California. Saddler was one of those girls who ran alongside the boys that were outside. She was deep into the streets throughout her teenage years when it seemed like life couldn’t get any better. Things changed when she started losing her friends and relatives to the criminal justice system and death from gang violence. As a teenager, Saddler wasn’t aware of problems with the criminal justice system, but considered the problem to be the community.

Growing older and wiser, Saddler began shifting her attention from the problems of streets to the authorities and institutions who seemed to exacerbate problems.

“I do not believe in (any benefits from) the criminal justice system because it was designed for us as people of color especially black people,” Saddler said. “The laws which are set in place have targeted our people time and time again. For example, crack and cocaine are the same drug yet crack hold a higher sentencing time than its pure form. Well, when looking at the demographics of the drug use its predominantly black folk using crack and white folk using cocaine. So to think that this system was ever created for us is a foolish mindset that we must shake.”

During her transfer year at USUN, Saddler experienced a death in the family. Her older brother was shot dead by a Vallejo Police Officer, while her brother was unarmed. This started a new branch in Saddler’s life, she began holding rallies about police brutality as well as organizing events to help bring awareness to this cause.