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Morning Brief: Student Loan Debt History, Monkeypox Vaccine Supply, LAist Readers Remember Vin Scully

A woman in a black cap and gown holding flowers poses in a picture with her family at her graduation from University of La Verne in La Verne, CA.
Stephanie López Ruvalcaba and her family pose for a picture after she graduates from University of La Verne at La Verne, CA in 2016.
(Courtesy of Stephanie López Ruvalcaba)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Thursday, August 4.

If I told you how much I had in student loan debt, you would cry right alongside me. Yes, it’s THAT BAD, my friends. I’m grateful I was able to pay for my undergraduate education through a Pell Grant and a scholarship for low-income students. But then came graduate school.

After three years working as a teacher, I wanted to go back into journalism and report on the issues I witnessed inside schools. I thought the best step for a young, first-generation college graduate, who is also a Black woman, was to go to graduate school. I had no media connections. Why not apply to the very best schools that would give me a leg up in this society? 

I got into graduate school and I excelled. I’m where I am because of my experience in graduate school. But I took out thousands of dollars to pay for it. Now, I owe MORE than I originally owed because of the interest that's accumulated.

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I am not alone.

My colleague Julia Barajas’ in-depth piece on the history of student debt is a MUST-READ. She writes about the idea that’s been put in all of our heads that college is THE pathway to economic mobility for working class families, and how that has driven so many to accumulate massive amounts of individual debt for the sake of higher education.

As many of us pursued this dream over the years, Julia reports that other factors came into play that helped add to the cost of higher ed - and the challenges of paying for it. For example, the average cost of tuition increased 130% since 1990, but grants and other federal support have failed to keep up with rising costs. Then during the great recession, when so many students were unable to get jobs after college, student loan debt ballooned from $772 billion to $1.6 TRILLION.

Did you know that a long time ago, California’s public university system was essentially free? That came to an end under Governor Ronald Reagan. Now, Californians owe about $142 billion in student loan debt. 

Julia interviewed several Angelenos who took out loans to pay their way to college.

I relate so very much to David Madina, a veteran teacher in Pico Rivera. Madina told Julia that even though he received a better financial aid package at Whittier College than his other top choice, UCLA, he still had to take out loans.

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He didn’t even hesitate to do it. Why? 

“My generation was told that that was the plan: You go to college because your parents didn't get to go,” he said. “I just figured you take out loans for cars, houses and school, and that's what you do, that’s how you get through it.”

All I knew growing up was that I was afforded privileges that my parents didn’t have. They put food in my belly, clothes on my back and a roof over my head…took care of everything so that I could stay FOCUSED in school and do better than they ever could. I had to MAKE IT. 

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Just like Madina, I bit the price tag bullet and went for it.

And now, on the other side, with over six figures in debt to my name, I’m just hoping I don’t become a 91-year-old year old lady with over $300,000 of student debt in my name.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below the fold.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go...A Brief Walk Down Memory Lane With Vin Scully

Vin Scully stands and waves at his booth behind a sign that reads "I'll Miss You."
Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully waves to the crowd after leading in the singing of Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the seventh inning stretch of the game with the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 24, 2016.
(Stephen Dunn
Getty Images)

For today’s trip in our time machine, we rememberVin Scully, the beloved, legendary Dodgers broadcaster who died on Tuesday at 94. 

Scully followed the team from Brooklyn to L.A. in 1958, and the rest became history. We asked you for your memories and this is what some of you shared:

Kelly R. remembered walking through the neighborhood on a warm summer evening:“As I passed by houses with windows open hoping for a cool breeze,  I could hear Vin Scully’s voice coming through each and every one. The whole neighborhood was listening to the voice of the Dodgers.” 

Eric S. reflected on a moment when he was “lucky enough” to have club level seats to a Dodgers game in 2000, and he REALLY wanted Scully’s autograph.

“He got about 100 feet past me before I started jogging toward him, yelling, “‘Mr. Scully! Mr. Scully!’” He stopped, and I asked him to sign my glove. He obliged without a blink. We talked briefly, and I told him that I was teaching my 1 year old son to say, "Vin Scully," and that I hoped it would be his first words. He was so humble that he almost seemed shy about it. Never met a more humble or kind celebrity in my entire life, and being from LA, we tend to see a lot of celebrities. 

Leonard G. relished this moment:

“My Grandmother was such a big fan and watched religiously.  I remember there were the odd road games over the years that weren’t carried on TV. Instead, during a commercial break on KTTV, Vin would read a brief prerecorded box score with a big Farmer John logo in the background and he’d let us all know if the Dodgers won or lost that day.  Since you couldn’t rewind or check your phone for scores in those days, my Grandma would, with very few words as possible, silence anyone stopping her from getting the brief, to STFU as quick as possible🤣. And if you didn’t, you best have accurately heard the score to report back to her.  Thanks for the memories, Vin. 💙”

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