Being in a public university system as a middle-high class person.

I went to a private high school where most people were in middle class. Even then, there were moments where I felt that I should keep what to me was the blurry reality of my parent’s socioeconomic class from everybody that I knew. The way that I rationalized it was that I was being humble by not disclosing my socioeconomic class.

My bachelor’s and master’s were both from the public system, which is actually a source of pride where I come from because of the status of the UPR public system. I am thankful to have been in the public system in PR. I got two high quality degrees at a lower cost. I am planning to pursue a doctorate at the university where I completed my bachelor’s degree. So I have nothing against the public system.

The thing that bothered me was that because it is a public system, I encountered even more discrepancy in terms of economic status and I felt ashamed at times to not have to worry about being able to afford higher education. I would stay quiet out of respect for this difference, but I feel that this is a secret that I should keep to myself at all times.

In my bachelor’s degree it was less public than in my master’s degree. When I learned the term Social Determinants of Health in the School of Public Health, I realized that I can’t relate to people that came low and middle class who had to work to pay for college. The paradigm that was used when teaching the concepts didn’t help, neither did the fact that my classmates were middle economic status and that many of the conversations were economic in nature.

I see a paradox in the perception of who gets to higher education. The idea is that you need a lot of money to study in a university. I assume that in the private system the economic status demographic will be different, but my experience is that with the different aids that exists for students the student demographic has a tendency to be more low and middle economic status students than any other social class. To be honest, this made me feel like an anomaly in higher education studies.

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