My hometown in rural Michigan is famous for its blueberry festival. To be honest, I am not sure why---by my count, this town of 6,336 people has fewer than 20 blueberry bushes. Sandwiched between Flint and Saginaw, it is a place that has evolved from farms to factories in such a short amount of time that the growing pains are obvious. “The Shop,” as General Motors is called, employs most of my extended family and my friends’ parents. Working at The Shop is considered a great job. Everyone in town thinks going to college is for eggheads.
Wanting to go to college is not the only thing that makes me stand out. I am one of three people taking AP calculus and the only one to ever take the AP Literature exam. I am probably the only student to be called into the principal’s office because of concerns about my lack of faith. I hope that I am the only one that’s been called a “pinko-commie-faggot” by his psychology teacher in class. Now, calling our football coach who reads directly from the textbook a “teacher” is a bit of a stretch, the story is true. No one is surprised that I want to go away to college. What may surprise them is why. I am not trying to find people like me, quite the opposite, I want to find people different than me.