College Admissions

by Usman Hameedi

March 12, 2019
The College Admissions Scandal:
Wealthy parents paid consultants
to cheat their kid’s way into college

And I laughed…
Silly me for drafting
“disadvantaged background” essays
so admissions would take pity on my poverty
when Dead Presidents write the best recommendation letters.

Scandal is a funny word
to describe known facts.

I’ve sat next to students
with the last names of buildings and departments.
Seats earned from their
parents’ gold-plated bootstraps
Born at the last lap, full ride without even seeing the track,
looking at us like we should be thankful we got invited to the race.

My invitation was a scholarship
a whole comma over
from my parents annual income,
but tuition free
isn’t the same as blank check

With scholarships, you are a
walking diversity brochure
must be photogenic for the Alumni Page,
make the melanin offset the racist mascot.
Still end up needing Aunty Sallie Mae
to navient through college.
My amassed debt so massive
I could’ve down paid on a mansion.

But who am I to not run?
I ran to make my parent’s sacrifices worth it
I earned a bachelors in resourcefulness
a masters in the academic hustle.
Now applying for a PhD in situational alchemy:
my thesis is on
turning recycled soda bottle deposits into doctorates.
And yet, my success always feels doctored.

Lori and Felicity are desperate housewives
trying to build Full Houses for their kids
but mothers crossing borders to build
futures out of factory work,
degrees out of green cards,
chances out of homelessness
are leeching the system

So when the scandal broke,
I laughed so hard that I could almost
drown out the loudness of my envy,
paid in full green with jealousy.

I wish for that level of certainty.
To know the grass will always be green
because generational wealth grew gardens
well before I was even
a seedling. The luxury of strolling
to the finish line.


Usman Hameedi is a Pakistani-American scientist, poet, and teaching artist.
Since 2008, he has competed in and coached for collegiate, national, and
international level poetry slams. Most recently, he was ranked 15th at the
2019 Individual World Poetry Slam and was invited to open the Final Stage
Slam. He has been featured on Upworthy, Huffington Post, Intima: A Journal
of Narrative Medicine, and the Story Collider: Storytelling for Scientists
podcast. As a scientist, Usman has contributed to academic and industry
laboratories with an array of research targets, including cancers and
neurological disorders. Of all the things he has done, he is most proud of
inspiring others to dream big and see the greatness within themselves!

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