My Great Recession: What’s A B.A. Good for These Days?

By Guest Columnist May 26, 2009

We put out a call for stories from young people of color about how people are surviving this recession. “My Great Recession” continues with this submission by Pablo Manriquez. Want to contribute? It will also go on the "Race & Recession" report page ( Send your 300-word first person accounts, visual art, or video blogs to submissions [at] colorlines [dot] com. By Pablo Manriquez In October of last year, I got laid-off at a tech firm in Chicago and had to move back into my parents’ basement in St. Louis, Missouri. Since then, I have been unable to secure paid employment. However, in January, I earned a place in a Master of Fine Arts program in photography, after my photojournalism work at President Obama’s inauguration impressed a relevant Californian. Unfortunately, the credit markets were frozen and I could not get the loans necessary to attend. Thus, I remain in my parents’ basement, thoroughly disgraced and under the tyranny of a mounting, predatory student loan debt from my undergraduate education at the University of Notre Dame—a debt that, at this point, I cannot possibly afford to pay. As an immigrant, I’ve harbored no illusions about the American Dream, except that accruing exceptional credentials and offering a demonstrable potential to improve or otherwise augment an enterprise were valued in American society. Regrettably, I have found that this too is an illusion, as relative patronage and the proximity of connections I lack have undercut both during the last seven months of employment applications I’ve submitted. In short, my future is as bleak as my present is humiliating.