Transcript: Making the leap from high school to college during a pandemic
Video link: https://crosscut.com/video/crosscut-documentaries-senior-year-was-crazy/making-leap-high-school-college-during-pandemic
Jacquelyn Jimenez Romero: OK, so it's the night before my AP exams. And my graduation photos are due tomorrow morning.
Jackie: And me and my sister are, like, trying to figure out what outfit I should wear. I look good with a degree, I'm just saying! But we're doing our best.
(Phone alarm ringing)
Jackie: Hey, everyone, it's your ASB President Jackie here for the daily ASB announcements.
Jackie: All I really wanna say is that I hope everyone is staying home and staying safe to stop the COVID-19 from spreading any further.
Andrew O’Connell: Hey, Franklin, it's your boy Mr. O'Connell, and I'm coming to you live from the comfort of my own home today. At this point, school is closed through April 24th, bringing us back on April 27th.
Man on TikTok: It's corona time.
Man on TikTok: Harvard and top universities just switched over to pass/fail.
Man on TikTok: Take me back to 2019, please!
Woman on TikTok: Here's how to make it look like you're paying attention to a meeting or a class on Zoom, when in reality you aren't even behind the camera.
Jackie: It’s like 20 minutes before my first meeting. I have pimple right here, which is so annoying. I hate being a teenager.
Jackie: My life before coronavirus was very busy.
Jackie: So, we have a Franklin visor, which I stole from our softball coach, because I did not like him; my two varsity letters, one from softball, one from swim; and then we have one of my photographs.
Jackie: Student government, National Honor Society, yearbook, and now I'm just at home all day.
Jackie (speaking Spanish): Food’s here! Ooh, you brought soda too! Time to eat!
Jackie: One thing about Mexicans is that we freaking love Coca-Cola. That right there is Jared, this one's Jocy, this one's me, this one's my mom, and this one's my dad (laughs).
Jackie: Hey, say hi!
Jackie: My brother, since he's in elementary school, they haven't really done online learning for them, and so he’s just been on my mom's phone, looking at YouTube videos and playing video games (laughs).
Jackie: Wait, what kind of mochi are they?
Jocelyn: What (laughs)?
Jackie: My sister, she's in ninth grade, so she has had to do like online learning, too, and so me and her alternate between, like, sharing computers and sharing internet.
Jocelyn: Hey (laughs)!
Jackie: We have like my parent's room, and then me and my siblings, like all three of us share a room, so that's probably why we wanna go after each other sometimes.
Jocelyn: We’re gonna die.
Jackie (speaking Spanish): Mom, stop spraying!
Jocelyn: It smells awful!
Concepcion Romero: Because if you can’t smell it —
Jocelyn: Then open the window!
Concepcion Romero: It’s for the virus.
Jackie: Coronavirus has made us a little bit more worried about our family's health, in particular my mom's.
Jocelyn (speaking Spanish): We haven’t gone out in like, three weeks!
Jocelyn: Four weeks!
Jackie: Because of that, I've sort of had to take extra responsibility as the older sibling.
Jocelyn: No that's my pencil. (Speaking Spanish) Mom, it smells awful!
Jackie: Why are y’all so concerned about whose (bleep) pencil it was?
Jocelyn: 'Cause it’s my pencil.
Jackie: My siblings, we all have to, like, step up, and kind of take care after each other.
Jocelyn: I think you just put it in right?
Jackie: My brother is trying ramen for the first time.
Jocelyn: Try it with hot sauce. It'll be good.
Jackie (speaking Spanish): Are you going to clean with us?
Jared: Can I do it? Can I try, pretty please?
Jackie: Sure I just wanna do this side, OK? You can do that crummy side.
Jared: Why do you not like the crummy side? It's so satisfying to clean up.
Jackie: My dad, you know, he can't really help much because he's at work all day.
Taurino Jimenez (speaking Spanish): I worry, too, because they don’t go out. I’m the one who goes out. If I get sick, the family is going to be in trouble. Because I’m the one supporting them. So I do worry. I have to be careful.
Jackie: OK, so to all the people wondering, like, what the heck is up with me and, like, what I look like (laughs)? You're probably thinking, like, how the heck does she have the red hair? Why does she actually look white and not Mexican?
Jackie: There is probably some European trait in my family that has just been passed along. Like, there are white Latinos, there are Black Latinos, there are Indigenous Latinos, there are even Asian Latinos, if you can believe it or not.
Jackie: Here’s my family. We’re gonna go up into our beds.
Jared: Social distance!
Jackie: Here, wait, let's do a cheers with our chips.
Jocelyn: (Bleep) was that?
Jackie: Looks kinda inappropriate to me.
Jared: We need two of these. (Kids laughing)
Jocelyn: It’s not funny. Oh, yeah, put it on top. Oh, (bleep). Stop, I'm ticklish! (Laughing)
Woman on Zoom: OK, Olivia is asking —
Jackie: The only internet that I have is through my phone, and I just make my phone a hotspot basically.
Woman on Zoom: They've talked about ... (call breaking up)
Jackie: These are things that we have to deal with when everyone is trying to log in to the internet and use it. So, yeah, there goes my first meeting for the day.
Jared: Don't go to dad’s room.
Jared: 'Cause he's sleeping.
Jackie: Prom is canceled, I think graduation is still scheduled to be on the date, but we don't really know what's happening right now (laughs).
Jackie: I come from a low-income family. Both of my parents are immigrants from Mexico, so I'm first generation and going to college.
Jackie: My dad has taught me that you can be really smart, but if you don't use your talents for any good, then what's the point of being smart?
Taurino Jimenez (speaking Spanish): My dad didn’t know how to read or write. He was an orphan. My grandmother died when he was 2 years old. He never went to school. It’s not just about being smart. It’s about helping others. You have to learn to serve. We are living in a society, a community. You have to serve others.
Jackie: I'm taking African American literature, AP American government, student government, AP environmental science and then yearbook. And I'm gonna use this camera to give you guys all an exclusive access view to a yearbook editor submitting the final pages.
Jackie: I am planning on studying political science because I care a lot about issues surrounding communities of color.
Jaimar Sugui: Hi!
Jackie: Oh, my (bleep) God, this is more food! Y'all are making me fat as hell (laughs).
Jackie: I'm deciding between two colleges right now, The University of San Diego and The University of Washington.
UW admissions counselor: Have you confirmed your admission yet?
Jackie: Not yet, I'm still deciding between like two colleges now, and so I wanted to see both financial aid awards before I confirmed.
Jackie: I've grown up very independent, so I just wanted to continue that.
UW admissions counselor: I am gonna go ahead and contact our financial aid office and see what is going on.
Taurino Jimenez (speaking Spanish): She told me, I want to go to California. I started crying (laughing)! You know what I’ve learned? When you say “No,” they say “Yes.” I said, “OK, you want to go? Go ahead.” I just know that when she gets there, she’ll have to face life alone. And it’s hard being alone. I know from experience. We came to this country, came here. If you only knew how hard it is, not having dad, mom, the food, the weather, family, friends. It’s hard, so hard. But either way, kids have to learn to make their own decisions.
Jackie: Say hi. Hi, guys!
Jackie: I really miss being with all of my friends. We're all kind of worried, like, how is the coronavirus gonna impact, like, our financial aid for the future.
Jackie: We don't know if, like, the first semester of our college classes might be online, or if we'll even get to move in and that sort of thing, and have the first college experience, especially since, like, our senior year was ruined.
Jackie: I’m trying to keep a positive attitude (laughs). That's something my dad does a lot, so I try to follow in those footsteps.
Jackie: OK, so it's kind of late, I just suddenly remembered that I had a scholarship due today. I think I've done over 20 scholarships. I've tried my best, and so far I haven't won any yet.
Jackie: College is really tough right now; everything's really tough. But it's always gonna be tough, and we just have to power through. So that's ...
Jared: That’s just life.
Jackie: That's just life, Jared agrees. That's just life, so ...
Jackie: I've been having a lot of anxiety around college. It's just really overwhelming, thinking about how expensive things are, and just how COVID is really impacting everything.
Jackie: So for me, I've been wanting to go out of state since the beginning of my senior year. And, you know, I really wanted to go to Stanford at first, but I got rejected.
Jackie: I really wanted to go to Claremont McKenna; that was my dream school, but I also got rejected. And then I settled for University of San Diego. I can't even think straight.
Jackie: But they didn't offer me enough money. I still need around, like, 20K to go there, and that would mean my parents would have to take out like a $20,000 loan for me to attend every year, which is not— (crying) which is not possible for them to do.
Jackie: Seattle is basically all I've ever known. You know, I wanna go somewhere else to experience new things.
Jackie: It just feels like no matter how hard I try to get to where I want to go, there's just so many barriers put in front of me. And it's really difficult trying to overcome them. And after a while you just really think, like, there's no way out of this.
Jackie: I think we got it guys, OK.
Andrew O’Connell: Yep.
Jackie: So the first set of questions that we have is, how are grades gonna be determined and how will they be affected?
Andrew O’Connell: Yeah, so there's some new updates since the last time we tried to record this, Jackie, so now the grading policy ...
Andrew O’Connell: The south end of Seattle is more diverse. It has more high numbers in families of immigrant populations.
Andrew O’Connell: A lot of our families lost their jobs. They lost their wages. They lost a way to support their families, you know.
Andrew O’Connell: And so that's where we say, well, we're not just a school, you know, we are a community center in a lot of way, and we see ourselves as part of a much broader community.
Jackie (speaking Spanish): Mom, can you turn of the light? Thanks.
Jackie: I was finally able to view my financial aid award for the University of Washington.
Jackie: I got a full ride to UW, which is kind of crazy. And it's really exciting because there's just ... it's really exciting. So, I don't know, I'm just really happy right now.
Jackie: I just finished taking pictures of myself for like a National Commitment Day thing. Oh, God!
Jocelyn: You're shaking!
Jackie: I really am shaking, because it's like what the (bleep).
Jackie: I wrote, "Here I am on National Decision Day, happy to announce that I'm joining the Dawg Pack with a full ride. So I can finally say that I'm that bitch, been that bitch, still that bitch and will forever be that bitch" (laughing).
Teacher: Congratulations, girl!
Jackie: And look at this, guys.
Jackie: I'm so like worried, like, what if they do icebreakers on Zoom (laughing)?
Jackie: Yeah, my sister's gonna take this the hardest. I already know she's gonna cry.
Jackie: That's Chanh right there, introduce yourselves. Allan, Midori and then Karla.
Jackie: How y'all feeling?
Student: A little sad.
Jackie: Final goodbyes, I have to say my goodbyes.
Student: Bye, Ben!
(Police sirens wailing)
Jackie: My identity is something that I struggle with all the time. And I do feel like I have a huge responsibility because I am white passing to sort of use that to uplift other people.
Jackie: It's insane what's going on. It makes me furious that this country is like this and that we continue to live in a lie that says everyone is equal, everyone has the right of life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, but that's not really the case.
Crowd: Black lives matter! No justice, No peace! No racist police!
Jackie: But what we really want out of all of this is for action to happen, and for real things to come out of this. Because, you know, I've been in school for the past four years, and yet for that amount of time, I've seen no change happen.
Jackie: I'm about to head to my senior checkout. My dad can't drive me because he's at work. I'm not really excited to go. I'm kind of just over senior year and over everything.
[Computerized voice]: Next stop: Beacon Hill station.
Jackie: So I'm on my way walking home. I'm, like, really overwhelmed with a lot of emotions right now.
Jackie: I'm very ready to move on. I'm actually wanting to move on faster. But it’s just ... I don't know. I'm just sad that I had to walk there and back just to turn in some textbooks and get a couple of stuff, like my yard sign. That was it.
Jackie: I got my diploma cover, I got like a sports award or something like that. And then I got this envelope. I'm not really sure what it is. It’s the first time I’m opening it, so we'll see what it says.
Jackie: It’s a letter from one of my favorite teachers. It says, "Jackie, I've started and stopped this letter so many times I've lost count. There's just so much I wanna say to you, and I just don't know how. I know, I know, it's not a good look for an English teacher.
Jackie: “But let me begin by saying congratulations. After all, that's supposed to be the purpose of this letter. To congratulate you on a job well done. I just feel as if there should be more. I feel as if I should be imparting some final words of wisdom, but I find that I'm just tapped out.
Jackie: “I think I've said everything that needs to be said. You're already aware of what an absolutely amazing person I think you are. And if you didn't, I guess you do now."
Jackie: Bro, what the (bleep), I'm graduating! Look at my nice (bleep) tassel, class of 2020, with the little bling on it because I decided to go a little bit fancy.
Jackie (speaking Spanish): “They migrated so I graduated.”
Jackie: I'm gonna do this for my undergraduate degree, my bachelor's, one for law school and one for graduate school. I'm gonna do all of the schools. OK, gotta go to graduation.
Jackie: This is really depressing.
Jocelyn: Where's dad?
Jackie: Dad's at work.
Jocelyn: It’s OK.
Singer: Facing the rising sun of a new day begun, let us march on till victory is won.
Jackie: Oh, these are cute.
Jackie: I got my dorm stuff. I should have enough clothes to last me, and I have no idea how big my closet space is so ... things are crazy.
Jackie: You guys are gonna miss me hella.
Jocelyn: I'm probably gonna die the first week.
Jackie: No, you're gonna die the first couple of hours.
Jocelyn: I've been OK the past few times she hasn't been here.
Jared: Last time you cried.
Jocelyn: So? I always cry. It's normal to cry.
Jackie: Jocy is packing for the first day of school tomorrow for Jared right here.
Jared: We're getting a backpack for school supplies we're gonna need at home.
Jackie: So how do you feel about me moving out?
Jared: It's gonna be weird, because it's the first day of my life that you're not really with me. I'll be kind of sad because I won't see you for like a few years.
Jackie: You'll see me on the weekends. What are you talking about? I'm not leaving forever.
Taurino Jimenez (speaking Spanish): She’s the leader here at home. She helps us, she supports us. I need her guidance, even though I’m her dad!
Jackie: Will you be scared, like, when I move out?
Jared: I'm pretty sure I will, because I've never seen a day without you, and it'd be kind of weird sleeping on your bed without you, because you're usually like there every day.
Jackie: Jesus, Jared can you help me close the suitcase please?
Jackie: I finally packed the suitcase.
UW move-in volunteer: Sorry.
Jackie: It’s fine.
Jackie: Oh, there we go.
Jaimar Sugui: You meet any new people?
Jackie: No, there's like no one here, and no one in the hallways.
Jackie: Do you want me to help you?
Amy Pham: No it’s all good, I don’t really have that much stuff.
Amy Pham: You can pick first.
Jackie: Me and Amy have known each other since sixth grade, and so we went to both middle school and high school together.
Amy Pham: Hey, we got three closets to split up (girls laughing).
Jackie: We just finished cleaning up and setting up our entire room. It only took us five hours of deep cleaning. We Clorox-wiped every single surface, like the beds, the mattresses, the bathroom, like everything.
Amy: We said, “No corona today.”
Jackie: We said no corona. First day of college, (bleep) is hard as (bleep). We out.
Jackie: It's just such a weird feeling having the room to yourself. I just hate being alone.
Jackie: When Amy, my roommate, goes out to work, it feels so lonely, and I have nothing to do, so I always just go to Jaimar's room.
Jackie: Whenever I'm feeling lonely, or like sometimes I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed, he can just calm me down.
Jackie: Overall, I really like the classes and what I'm learning and everything. It’s a different environment than what I'm used to at Franklin, at the south end.
Jackie: It's a very white perspective. It's a huge culture shock, if I'm being honest. It's the fitting in part that I sort of need to figure out.
Concepción Romero (speaking Spanish): Above all, do your best, honey, OK?
Jackie (speaking Spanish): I know, I’ll study hard, OK.
Concepción Romero (speaking Spanish): Yes, dear.
Jackie: So my family has been OK since I moved out. My siblings in particular are just really overwhelmed with online school.
Teacher: I'm gonna ask one more time, everybody should have their mute on.
Jackie: I sometimes get text messages from my sister. She texts me, like, “Jackie, how do I pay dad's bills?” I still do feel guilty sometimes that I'm not there as much to sort of help out.
Taurino Jimenez (speaking Spanish): There will always be problems. But we have to be strong. This is the process of life. Just as we face problems, difficult situations, we also have successes. And one of those successes is when our kids do well.
Jackie: Even though senior year really sucked in the way that we sort of didn't get the closure that we wanted to, the one thing that this pandemic has taught me is to not really plan as much. There's still, like, always gonna be uncertainty at whatever I do.
Taurino Jimenez (speaking Spanish): With or without Jacquelyn, we need to go on. We love her, we need her, we care about her, but she needs to learn how to face life and do her own thing.
Jackie: I don't know what I'm doing. We don't know what we're doing. We're all just trying to figure out our lives. So, cheers to not knowing what the (bleep) we're supposed to be doing.