I am from Oklahoma City, and I graduated from Oklahoma Centennial High School, a school where students hope to graduate and someday make above $10 an hour. The students who attend that school rarely have aspirations to go to college. Every year, about seven students from each class actually apply to college, and usually no one even dreams of going to a university as large as OU.
Since the establishment of my high school in 2007, only 3 students have gone to OU.
When you leave a small high school where everyone looks like you and faces similar struggles, and you come to a place where you make up only 5.4% of the population, and of that 5.4%, only half of them remotely understand your feelings of displacement, you long for a community–a community of people who understand you and can relate to you. In Project Threshold, I found my community. I walked into the office hoping for free printing, but I found so much more. Mrs. Crystal Carter took me in as her student and treated me like family. Because of my disconnect from the campus, I had felt so insecure, like I had no right to be in this place, and my grades had started to slip before they could even be placed on a transcript.
Mrs. Carter checked on me every day and made sure I stayed focused. In the fall of 2016, one of the previous staff here tried to take advantage of me with the promise of scholarships as my incentive, and even when I turned them down I was threatened to remain quiet about the situation or my enrollment at the university would be compromised. It wasn’t until the Me Too Movement that I finally told my counselor Mrs. Carter about my story. Even with the fear I had from the university, she stood up for me, reported it to Title IX, stood by me, and offered me support.
Our counselors are more than just advisors–they are mentors, teachers, parents, and friends. For a lot of us they are a lighthouse in the dark ocean of classes, finances, and stress brought upon us by attending the university. Project Threshold and its counselors are worth more than any grant the university could ever afford.
Carlos Jackson is a junior at OU studying African and African American Studies with a minor in Human Relations. He is from Oklahoma City and hopes to one day become a Senator in the state of Oklahoma.