Laszlo Jakab, a student in CEU’s Roma Access Programs, spoke of his path from the poorest part of the small town of Kistelek, Hungary, to a college degree and enrollment in RAP in an interview published in the Oct. 6 edition of Nok Lapja, Hungary’s biggest-selling weekly magazine, with a circulation of 217,000.
Jakab recounts how it didn’t occur to him in childhood to pursue a college degree. His father started working when he was 12, supporting his family through occasional jobs. Both his parents are hardworking and conscientious, teaching Jakab tolerance and respect, and instilling the idea in him that he could achieve more if he got an education. He was encouraged by his parents to attend a competitive secondary school, then a local minister and a teacher pressed him to apply to college, then found a supportive community in the Romaversitas Foundation program that assists Roma youth in higher education.
“I have always run into the right people. There was always someone beside me who cheered me on. For that is what matters most to a child: to be praised and encouraged so that he knows his strengths and weaknesses. I managed to go into higher education, and my acquaintances often tell me that I am different from the other Roma. But I am not. I go home to Kistelek, and I talk Roma with my parents. I am just like them.”
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