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Not a Mills woman — at least, not yet

Dear Mills Community,

Am I a casualty of the recent budget cuts?  Or was I really not good enough for Mills College?

I am an unfortunate non-admitted student of the class of 2016.  I received the dreaded “Thanks, But No Thanks” small envelope in my recent mail.

To say I am disappointed would be an understatement.  I am use to disappointment and I am resilient.   There is no doubt that I am not the only thwarted rejected student.  However, I find it cathartic to write. So here it goes…

I was born profoundly physically disabled. Unable to walk, speak or care for myself independently.

I have learned to rely on technology to express myself and surrender to the care of others for my existence.

Education is my outlet and my salvation. I have never taken my access to education for granted.

Many hard fought hours were spent insuring I would receive an education equal to my ability and not my appearance.  I have excelled academically.  I have accolades from many educators.  The only blemish I have is a less than stellar showing in the SAT arena. The irony of standardize testing is not lost on me.

When I began looking at colleges, there were new obstacles to overcome.  I visited several campuses and then I found Mills.

The campus was flat, a plus.  Also, the climate was based on academics. There seems to be a shared commitment to social justice.  I fell in love with Mills!

I was treated to a tour by Kirby, met at length with Jess Miller and finished the day with Vala Burnett.

Not once did I detect skepticism in my ability to be a successful student at Mills.  Would I look like any other student at Mills? No.  Did it seem to matter to anyone? No.

I am an observer.  Being invisible in the world allows me to see everything.

Since I have few true conversations, I learn all I need from subtle nuances in peoples behaviors, speech and body language.  I know when I am being pitied, placated and pacified. I also know when I am being legitimately acknowledged.  To their credit, those I met that warm August morning at Mills gave me a great sense of possibility.

Shortly after I applied for admissions I learned of the college’s budgets cuts. I read the departments and personnel that were casualties of recent budget concerns and I knew I was in seeing my possibility dwindle.

Jess Miller had made introductions I needed to be successful at Mills before I had even exited the campus.  I arrived home to several emails from her and colleagues offering assistance with the transition from home to campus life. This assistance was being offered before I had applied, let alone admitted.  Imagine the wealth of support I was expecting if I became a student.

It appears that the cuts affect the most marginalized areas of the current and future student body.

Being in that category, I wonder if in light of the additional services that would be required for me to attend Mills, was I too much of a liability?  Was my aptitude for success at Mills measured on my merits or my deficits?  Was it too much to hope that I would be measured by my successes in the light of my deficits?

So it goes,  I will not be on campus next fall. I am not deterred.  I will apply again to Mills College and, potentially, again and again and again.  My hope is this illuminates the appearance that some admission decisions may not be based solely on the merits or achievements, but on other factors that slowly erode the fabric of diversity that defines Mills College.

Madison Hays
Prospective stuent