A Story of Roses

The following is written by a fellow student loan advocate and admin at the ForgiveStudentLoanDebt.com group, Karen Marie Rose.  This is her response to the request by the House Education and Workforce Committee to submit feedback on the re-authorization of the Higher Education Act.  She decided to take a new, more personal approach.  I truly hope they take this to heart.  I also strongly urge everyone to submit feedback on this subject to HEA.Reauth@mail.house.gov.  With the $1 Trillion dollars in student loan debt that this country has, it is extremely important we see some positive changes in higher education.  Let them know you care!  (And feel free to mention H.R.1330, H.R.532, S.114, and S.897)

Roses pass on their beauty each year –provided they get the right nutrition, sunlight and water. If not, the rose will not bloom.

Here is the story of My Five Roses.


1902 Maria Rose leaves Italy and immigrates to America with husband and baby Rose. The family leaves for opportunity; there is little work in Italy. They arrive in Boston, Massachusetts with $5.00 in their pocket.

1917 Rose graduates high school in America, marries, has daughter Lenore Roseland

1946 Lenore Roseland, a first generation American, is a brilliant student and is offered a one year scholarship to medical school (one year after Harvard began accepting female applicants) Lenore declines the offer; her parents cannot afford to send her. She becomes a nurse instead. Marries a first-generation Irishman. While married with five children and serving in the U.S. Air Force (20 year Veteran), he graduates college, receives a master’s degree and sends his wife to college. They graduate with $0.00 student loan debt. He becomes a successful businessman and buys several homes. Helps his five children attend college and proudly graduates a Lawyer, Engineer, Artist, Doctor and Teacher. Later this successful American couple are blessed with eleven grandchildren who all attend college.

1989 Their daughter, Karen Marie Rose, graduates college with $7,500 of student loan debt.

2012 Their granddaughter, Briana Rose, graduates college with $75,000 of student loan debt.

The American Dream was working up until about the year 2000. My family did everything right, but in just over one hundred years, Maria Rose’s descendants have come full circle. Briana Rose wishes she had $5.00 to leave the country and start over. Buying a home is out of reach. Having a child is out of the question.

What happened?

Gross student loan debt threatens my large Italian-Irish family into extinction. We are not lazy or selfish and want to pay a fair price for an education but enough is enough. We DID pull ourselves up by our “bootstraps” and for what? To put our children into a lifetime of debt? Not one of the eleven grandchildren are married nor do they have any plans on starting a family- their student loan debt is simply too overwhelming. They can’t participate in the America that their grandparents enjoyed. At this rate- no-one in my family will have any descendants. You’re wiping out my family.

Jubilee the debt and re-boot the economy.


History has shown just how successful we can be -given the right opportunities and conditions to bloom. Much like this rosebush that hasn’t bloomed in 15 years. A mature tree is blocking out the sun on the side of my house. I re-discovered the straggly vine with thorns and replanted it last fall into a sunny spot. I thought it deserved another opportunity-and-come spring-it bloomed. Oh, and look at that, five Rosebuds.


2 thoughts on “A Story of Roses

  1. Awesome post. Definitely, things have changed in the past years from both sides (families and financial instruments/institutions). I do hope the family tree can continue to go on and bloom in adversity!

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