Well, they weren’t exactly “odd jobs”, and most of them weren’t paid, either. I was a student at Grossmont Junior College in El Cajon, CA, and then UC San Diego at a time when we in California had – essentially – tax-payor funded higher education, which we can do for our entire country if we wish.
Because of this, I was able to obtain financial aid, and work, mostly, as a volunteer at the Beach Area Free Clinic in Mission Beach as a laboratory technician. I also was a blood drawer – phlebotomist – at the San Diego VA Hospital; this was a paid job.
I also worked – marched – to end a war that we considered illegal, worked to create a free dental clinic in East San Diego, worked for the rights of Farm Workers with the United Farm Workers Union; all of these jobs were before medical school.
When I look back at my experience as an undergraduate and then medical student, comparing it to both the experience of my children and that of other young students, I am simply amazed. It is true that I was a student in the 1970s, and the world was a different place. The State of California had created an educational system that was extremely low cost, and tiered. There was the ability to obtain USDA Food Commodities – which fed me – there was student housing, which housed me.
As a – at the time – kid who had not done well in high school, but wanted to do something with his life more than consume alcohol and other substances, I was the recipient of the generosity of the People of the State of California. I pulled myself together, attended Grossmont Junior College, worked as hard as I could and STILL failed in some of my coursework. Continued to struggle, and finally began to do well. After about 2 years at the Community College, I was accepted to UCSD, then and now, one of the finest public institutions in the United States.
I was offered financial aid, small loans, and – I hope the University Housing Authority will forgive me – a small apartment in married student housing; I wasn’t married.
The calls today for “free public higher education” – really tax-payor funded education – are attainable. This was essentially done in California. We can do it for the entire country.
We are a wealthy nation, we can take care of our youth, our people.