November 29, 2021
Senior Alyssa Mercano rolls over and turns off her alarm. Since she studied late and only got two hours of sleep, she’s tempted to hit the snooze button. But it’s an hour drive to school. Reluctantly, starts her day.
After coffee, she climbs into her car. The caffeine is the only thing that keeps her awake as she heads down the freeway. While driving, she mentally goes over the notes from the previous night for her Dual Credit Physiology test.
“I think the dual credit class gives me the most homework. I have maybe six hours of sleep if I don’t have any homework,” Alyssa said. “But the more homework I do have…I have no choice but to lose sleep to catch up on school.”
Alyssa also has homework from most of her classes most days.
“I have something to do every single day, no matter what,” Alyssa said.
Alyssa’s obstacles from sleep are not just schoolwork. To provide for her family which includes a new baby, Alyssa works full-time at Dickey’s, which means she’s there most days after school.
“And there’s a lot of people, especially some I know, who are their main source of income in the household,” Alyssa said.
Between paying off her car, helping her family and saving for college tuition, not much is left over from Alyssa’s paycheck.
“That’s how it is for me. My mom doesn’t work,” Alyssa said. “So it’s up to me, and I put in like 35 to 45 hours a week of work.”
To keep from falling asleep in class or at work, Alyssa drinks caffeine daily. Usually it’s coffee, but not always.
“I’ve occasionally had [5-Hour Energy] before.” Alyssa said. “They’re actually really nasty. It almost tastes like cough medicine. But I sometimes put some in a Red Bull slush from the gas station. I don’t think it’s very healthy.”
Through the exhaustion, she keeps her goal of graduating in mind.
“I’m just trying to push myself because I want to just get my high school diploma,” Alyssa said. “I want so much for myself, I really do.”