“University isn’t the place for you. You’re better off taking applied courses. I can recommend some and where you can go to do them.”
When Carol heard these words, she felt as though her guidance counselor had picked her up and tossed her into the sea, leaving her adrift in the waves of emotions of disbelief and anger. Why disbelief? The same thing had happened to her sister and cousin. Both had been told that they shouldn’t bother to apply to university because they wouldn’t be able to cope. And both had gone to university. Her sister was doing her Masters in Psychology now and her cousin was a professor of Math. Anger because the counselor told her this without even bothering to pull up her grades.
Carol was an A average student who wanted to go to university and get a degree in Biology. When she mentioned her plans to the counselor, instead of encouraging her, she told her that university wasn’t for her.
There was a long silence as she tried to process what was happening. The guidance counselor was busy writing something on a sheet of paper. When she was done she slid it over to Carol. “Here you go,” she said. Carol glanced down at the paper. It had a list of applied courses and the places where they were offered.
Carol didn’t say a word. She put her book, papers and pen in her knapsack and got up. She didn’t take the paper. “Excuse me,” she said and walked out of the office.
When she went home she told her mother what had happened and her mother said, “Don’t worry, Baby. I will go to the school tomorrow and get you a new guidance counselor. She did and Carol’s new counselor gave her a list of the best Biology universities in Canada. She encouraged her with these words, “Now that you have proven to yourself that you have what it takes to succeed, work hard and see all obstacles as motivators to realizing your dreams.”
Carol is now at Queen’s University and loving every minute of it and she plans to get her PhD. Academic Streaming is a real problem for students like Carol and many are encouraged to “stray away from realizing their full potential” because of racial bias. Carol knew that she was told that university was not for her simply because she was black. She wants to be an advocate for students who might experience what she did and encourage them not to give up on their dreams. She hopes the province is doing something to finally end academic streaming so that black children no longer face “an achievement and opportunity gap” in schools.