Even though I was incredibly nervous about life after graduation, I was excited about the possibilities. Loan dilemmas aside, I knew one could only get so much accomplished while being in a classroom day in and day out so I looked forward to post-graduate life.

Unfortunately, with word that minority college graduates are being hit harder by the recession than their white counterparts, coupled with job recruiters planning to hire 22% fewer graduates this year, I can understand why some members of the Class of 2009 are a bit a petrified.

Such is the case for one reader, who is fighting to maintain her already declining optimism.

She went back to school to earn a nursing degree, but now worries about her job prospects. She has reason to be concerned. Though some parts of the country are still in dire need of nurses, far more are now making it harder for nurses to find jobs.

Nursing students are often told they will immediately find work. That no longer seems to be the case as opportunities for nurses continue to dwindle, hence this reader’s frustration.

This is her story:

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“An hour ago, I woke up looking forward to feed my new baby, ‘Pancho,’ a Blue Betta male fish I bought at Walmart a few days ago.  I had always wanted to raise a fish and since then I am hoping he would survive for several years.

Survive? The word just gave me a sad note as I am writing this.  When my husband came home a while ago from a night shift, he told me that his company is cutting off hours again. I live in MI and I am a full time student taking the Level I Nursing Program. My husband used to have a pretty good income and since we do not have children of our own, we were then having a more comfortable life. Then a month ago, his company laid off 25 people while the remaining employees were striped of their overtime. The news devastated my husband, who has worked hard for almost 20 years. He now seems so unsure about his future, yet he continues to hope that things will get better.

Well, I don’t. I am sad and angry. I am frustrated and feeling pessimistic. I was born and raised in the Philippines and before I moved here in the US, I had a great career in HR, a bachelor's degree, a Law degree, a diplomat in HRD and MPA almost done. 

When I remarried I moved to Michigan hoping it would be easier for me to find a job that would suit my education and experience. But after a year or so I was still jobless. All of my applications have been turned down because I was considered overqualified. Then one day, I went to McDonalds and I was hired. I was glad I had a job with some form of income, but deep inside I was hurting. I kept telling myself, I don't deserve this, knowing how hard my parents worked for me to become more than just an educated person.  After a while I learned to enjoy my job and I was very good at it, but my thoughts and questions of where I would like to be in the next five years kept haunting me. 

It did not take me long to decide that I was going back to school again and this time I would major in nursing. 

So, I applied and was accepted. I worked and went to school, spent most of my time studying so I could maintain high grades. I enjoyed being in school again, but at the back of my mind, I was thinking about the student loans I have accumulated since I started school. The thought of owing a sum of money that would probably require me to pay equivalent to an auto loan worries me. And then I worry over the prospects of finding a job after graduation. I’ve been rejected several times in the past already.  I am excited to graduate in June, but I can emphasize with the feeling you had afterwards, the thought of how much I owed.

When I read you article, I can't help but cry.

I can't help but cry, not just because I owe money for my schooling but because I feel so unlucky professionally since coming to the U.S. I have always been a career woman, very independent, dynamic, full of energy and hope. Then things began to change upon entering a different world. I cannot understand why I have to go through with the fear of not accomplishing my goals when I have always been a survivor. I can’t help but feel numb inside.  I sometimes have to close my eyes and tell myself to stop thinking about the worst.

Do I regret I went back to school? No because I had to.

So many thoughts are racing inside my head. I wish there were a way for me to calm myself completely and be optimistic. That has become more difficult to achieve than getting an A in class. I try to cling to optimism, but my heart is still in pain.”

Maria

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Are you also having a hard time holding on to hope? If not, what helps keep you motivated?

Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.

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