Dwarakesh Baraneetharan, a junior at Northwest High School in Germantown, was one of 20 finalists in a Black history essay contest sponsored by WJZ-TV, CBS Baltimore. His full essay can be seen below:
George Washington Carver once said that “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” While true, the keys and doors are actually multiple, freedom a multi-level building with incremental levels separated by doors. As you acquire more education, you receive keys to unlock higher levels, gaining eligibility for opportunity. Of course, people aspire to reach different degrees of freedom. Some aspire to have the freedom to possess a lavish lifestyle, while others may aspire to escape poverty. Education is key in both scenarios.
My father grew up in a stereotypical, primitive third world village. The area possesses immense natural beauty. All shades of green, from lime to olive, present themselves simultaneously in the form of diverse trees and shrubbery. Animals chitter and chatter boisterously. This teeming flora and fauna is the manifestation of the village being overlooked by time, left unsullied.
This same untouched nature was behind the village’s major flaw: it was primitive in all aspects. This caused issues at least thrice a year, when monstrous storms would bombard the village, bringing an onslaught of aggressive winds, heavy flooding, and torrential rain. Even worse, the effects of the storms would be amplified by the village’s remoteness, which amplified the villagers’ suffering.
From a young age, my father knew he had to leave this village someday. While he enjoyed the bucolic beauty, he knew that life here was a dead end. Thus, he continued to commute the 15 miles to the government school in town every day on his father’s old bicycle. At home, he literally burnt the midnight oil, studying and even sleeping below oil street lamps. This hard work paid off after high school: my father received a full scholarship for physics due to his impeccable test scores. This set in motion a chain of events that culminated in the poor boy from a tiny village receiving a specialized work VISA to enter the US. Education, as always, had done it: it had not only given him the keys to escape poverty, but also to the higher level of freedom to live and work in the United States.
The thing is, my father unlocked those levels of freedom for his family as well. My father, born in a developing country, started his life in the “basement” of freedom, just barely having the freedom to acquire an education. Due to his tireless efforts, I was fortunate enough to start off well above ground in the building of freedom, here in the United States. While I may not have access to the best educational opportunities, I plan to use what I have to the fullest, just like my father did. I already know that I aspire to reach the level of freedom to be able to give my children even more opportunities than I had so that they may go on to unlock even more levels. Just like my father did, I will utilize education to unlock more levels of freedom for me and my family.