I am blessed my only child is a student at Reed. It is deserved, as it was her ambition to attend a top school from the age of 11. I know this because she then told me, “Papa, I’m going to Harvard.” As far as we are both concerned she did better than that with Reed. She loves Reed and I know it is the best place for her. So I was struck by the letter whining about the cost and the lack of financial aid for a middle-class family from Hawaii. (“What about the Middle Class?” Letters, March 2012).
I was born and raised in Hawaii and am a graduate of University of Hawaii at Manoa. I began work in the profession I followed for over 20 years while at school. Shortly after graduating I was called to work my magic for a Broadway show and so entered a successful era of employment as stage lighting designer and much more.
After I took custody of my child, it became clear that the life of a bohemian artist was not going to pay for her schooling. I then attempted to enter the academic world, as schools usually grant free (or nearly so) tuition to the children (qualified, to be sure) of faculty and sometimes staff. I instructed at two schools and discovered there was little or no connection to professional production and design within the college academic environment. As is true of Reed also, I have my standards and abandoned that environment. At that point I deliberately chose real poverty to ensure that my child would be able to attend whichever school she chose. She worked hard, I enabled as best I could, and so it came to pass.
The point is, there are ways to do this. The system does not make it impossible for a determined parent to help make a child’s dream come true. The letter outlines the case of someone who is really not in need. I gave up a lot to make this real for my only child and I have absolutely no sympathy for those who are unwilling to make any sacrifice and who then cry foul. Especially for someone who lives where I belong. I will likely never see my true home again, as now I am old and my choice of poverty is sticking like glue. But my child shines and that is all that truly matters now.
Editor's Note: This letter was originally published under the erroneous title, "What about the Underclass?", which doubtless earned us an "F" from the sociology department, since that term carries connotations that we did not intend. We apologize for the mistake.