The Great Depression used to be thought of as the worst economic depression to hit America. Now eighty years later, something just as bad, or worse, may be coming. This meltdown has touched many around the world. It is also hitting students on campus.
As junior Abraham Lopez stood staring towards the floor, he began to tap his thighs when he started to talk about his family's struggles. In his two bedroom house, fifteen people manage to live under one roof, eight of whom are immigrants.
Sophomore Sarinna Sao's parents, who do not speak English, must depend on her to get an education to improve their lives.
Another sophomore, who asked to remain anonymous, makes an effort to earn money to help his father, who lacks a high school diploma, to help pay for rent.
The family of junior Paul Rebultan has moved into a new house because they could not afford to stay in their previous home. Stockton, California, has one of the worst foreclosure rates in the nation.
From the start of this recession in December 2007, 5.1 million jobs have been lost. Two-thirds of that job loss that has taken place in the past five months.
March was the highest peak of job losses when the national unemployment rate rose from 8.1 to 8.5 percent. Stockton has been hit harder with unemployment numbers above 10 percent and are expected to rise to 15 percent by next year.
A crowded home
Over the past four years, junior Abraham Lopez has adapted to living with six renters in his home. At first, he said, "It felt kind of weird because I had to give them my room and I was about twelve, so I was complaining a lot."
Four to six months out of every year, during cherry season, he and his five younger brothers sleep in their living room, while his sister, mother and stepfather sleep in the other bedroom.
Neither his mother nor his father has a job and in order to get money each immigrant pays $70 a week in rent. "In four months my mom will start selling tamales while they're in Washington," Lopez said.
'We make it work'
For Sao, her education is the only hope for her family to get through this devastating time. "That's the important thing; if I get an education, life will be better for us." She continues to earn above a 4.0 grade-point average and is hoping to be offered a full-ride scholarship her senior year.
While she is determined to promise her family a better future, Sao's father is trying to make ends meet for the present. "No one is working, but my dad goes fishing," she said.
"Then my mom and I go from door-to-door on weekends selling it. It's kind of embarrassing, but you know, we got to do what we got to do."
For the past few months, Sao's family has been buying the bare essentials and sometimes, that's not enough. "We have less of what we used to," she said, "but we make it work."
Helping to pay the bills
The unnamed sophomore said he has to go to the extremes to get money for his family. After fifteen years of being an electrician, his father was laid off, so he and his older brother have had to contribute to the monthly house payment.
Although moving to a new house with a lower payment would suffice, they chose not to because their house is almost paid off.
As if one parent losing a job isn't enough, imagine having two unemployed parents. The mother of this student is a pre-school teacher, and the probability of losing her job is high.
This student knows how vital it is to have an education to prosper in life, because his father is currently looking for a job, "but he doesn't have a high school diploma."
With less income, the household has had to cut down on necessities. "The rent, the groceries, the bills -- everything," he said.
His family rarely has the opportunity to save money. He says, "the money we get goes to everything else."
Struggling but optimistic
Junior Paul Rebultan considers himself lucky.
Though his mother and father are both struggling at their jobs, they are hoping to not be laid off.
With a step-father who delivers car parts to out-of-town companies, a mother who designs bowling balls and a younger brother who is too young to understand their family's situation, Rebultan believes they are "flying under the radar."
With that in mind, he talks about cutting back on luxuries like cable, and moving to a smaller home.
Even though he understands that times are tough, Rebultan continues to make every effort to attend to prom.
"I'm trying to look around for yard work to get money," he said. "But it's kind of tough right now because I haven't found anything yet. Money is tight so people just do their yard work themselves."
Rebultan plans on finding a job, not only to finance his prom expenses, but to also pay back his friend and aunt who have lent him money.
"I just want this thing to end quickly," he said. "It was bad, but now it's worse. It makes everything harder."