HEOP Girls at Work: Balancing Work and Education

by Manuela Hiches

These Barnard students are wonder women.

Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) is a collection of women who come from a variety of backgrounds that need financial and academic assistance. We are a united group of women who are interested in excelling in our classes and supporting one another. However, along with performing well academically, we all know that having a job is something that comes to everyone’s minds. The idea of making your own money is great right? Having cash in your pocket and being able to buy what you want when you need it is bliss. Still, how can you balance working and your school work?

We’ve all heard stories of people biting off more than they can chew. Yet, there are a handful of students that join a sports club or the student council, work hours a week in the office, and yet get decent grades. How in the world do they do it? Well, I can tell you one thing for sure, they aren’t wonder women or anything. They’re just like you, normal Barnard women. It’s not too far-fetched to think you can take that off-campus or on-campus job that seems like loads of fun and still keep up with your assignments. If those handful of students can do it then so can you.

I interviewed two HEOP girls who can tell you just that. Bella Li, who is a teacher’s aide at the School at Columbia University, an afterschool program where she helps children with their homework, has managed to keep her priorities straight in her life at Barnard thus far. Bella explains, “It’s interesting since the reason why I wanted this job was because I wanted to see if I was good at teaching younger kids than older kids.” She wanted the experience, but its “hard because children don’t always listen.” Aharisi Bonner, a weight room supervisor who welcomes Barnard students into the gym and keeps track of who enters and exits, enjoys helping uphold the rules of the gym. “I enjoy my job because I get to interact with different people every day and it’s in a calm and productive environment, where I get to not only do my job but also focus on my schoolwork. However, there are times when there is a lack of work, when things are slow.”

As you can see, working has its ups and downs. But the point is that working is manageable and getting a job doesn’t mean giving up good grades. As Aharisi says, it’s about prioritizing, “Even though making your own income is important, at the end of the day, I’m at Barnard for one thing, and that’s to do the best I can academically and receive the best education I can so I can set up the best future for myself.” Bella adds, “Pick hours that will fit in your schedule but doesn’t fill up your schedule so you can still have time to do homework and relax and things like that.”

When it comes down to it, you shouldn’t be afraid to take on a job just because you think it will prevent you from doing your school work. You should definitely go for it if it’s something you’re interested in. But, do not lose track of yourself and go down the vortex of money hunger. It happens to all of us, believe you me. If you have a job already, keep in mind that you are currently in school. Don’t go filling up your free time with hours of work with the focus of making money in mind. Give yourself enough hours in the day to get a decent pay. And leave time to study! (Don’t forget to sleep either).

You might feel like you’re a one (wo)man show doing a balancing act with everyone staring down at you. That would be stressful. Don’t think of it that way! You’re here for you, not for what others want you to be. Don’t forget your priorities and don’t lose yourself because just like those at HEOP, you have people who’ve got your back who will catch you if you slip or fall.

Manuela Hiches is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of Zapit2.

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3 thoughts on “HEOP Girls at Work: Balancing Work and Education

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