The Divided Dream

For my senior thesis I produced a 6-act podcast featuring interview with my peers from my hometown in Maine.

In the last fifty years, college graduation rates have skyrocketed, but this growth has not been felt equally. Today, in the so-called “land of opportunity”, only 11% of people who are first generation college students and are from a low-income background will graduate. In 2014, 100 students walked down the aisle to receive their diploma at a small Maine High School’s graduation. In 2018, 15 of them will complete a four-year college degree and another 15 will have become parents. In the Divided Dream Podcast, Jenna Clifford delves into the growing division in outcomes for young people today through interviews with 12 peers from her hometown, Lisbon, Maine. This five-act series explores what it’s like to come of age in Lisbon, a working-class small town, today.

Her findings suggest that young people from Lisbon aren’t graduating from college because college, culturally, does not make sense for them. They do not want to leave their community to go live in a dorm. They do not see value in a course requirement that uses time that could be spent earning money for rent. And, they do not ascribe to a version of success that is necessarily about career or material gain. In Lisbon, the overarching narrative that a person in their twenties should be in college is disrupted. Jenna, through her conversations with her peers and her insight on her community, challenges us to rethink higher education and conventional narratives of success in order to be more inclusive of the prevailing socio-economic realities that prevail rural America today.

Read more about the project and listen to the other episodes here:

Jenna Clifford
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