Real Stories: Emmett, a college student, builds his future while fighting off hunger
August 2, 2010 § Leave a comment
Emmett, a student at Texas State University, is trying to make it through the summer months. “Now that school is out, I thought it would be easier to find a job because students would be moving away, but that isn’t the case. It’s not so easy!” he says.
Emmett is not alone.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for young Americans is often double the unemployment rate for the general population. For young adults age 16-24, unemployment peaked at 19.6 percent in April of this year. For Black and Hispanic young adults, the figures are even higher.
As students like Emmet look to college as a way to improve employment opportunities, they are also more vulnerable to unemployment and debt. These students, with limited education and access to full-time higher paying positions, find it difficult to save money and qualify for unemployment insurance. Personal and social safety nets are not always in reach.
In the interim, Emmett looks to Hays County Food Bank for assistance. “I found this food pantry over the internet,” he explains. “I’ve been here a couple of times. They give us meats and vegetables, of course. There are always some bread items and a dessert or two for that sweet tooth!”
Emmett, 30, says he is attending college for a better future. “I decided I had waited way too long. I should have gone back right after high school. I am tired of finding minimum wage jobs; I am ready for more now. I started school last semester at Texas State University, and hope to major in accounting if all goes well.”
And a better future for Emmett means more opportunities and competitive advantage for Texas and the United States. According to a recent report from the College Board, Texas ranks 40th in the number of people age 25 to 34 who hold at least a college associate degree. Among developed countries, the United States ranked 12th, behind Russia, Japan and Korea for 25 to 34 year olds who have earned a college degree. For Texas to remain competitive in a global marketplace, students like Emmett need access to basic resources to remain and thrive in higher education.
“I come to this food pantry to make it through the week. I’ve never run out of food. I have come close to it, but not completely,” says Emmett. “I felt a little hesitant the first time I came here because I wasn’t sure how it would work, or what I needed to do, but after coming up here you feel so comfortable,” he says about Hays County Food Bank. “They’re real nice and kind here. They don’t look at you in a different way because of your situation.” When asked how long he plans on using food pantries as a resource, Emmett says, “I don’t plan on using this for long; just for the summer months to tide me over until school starts.”