Elizabeth Warren is one of 10 presidential candidates taking part in a Democratic debate Tuesday, July 30, at 8 p.m. ET, on CNN. Ten others will debate on Wednesday evening. She is a US senator from Massachusetts. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own; view more opinion at CNN.
(CNN)When I was 12, my daddy had a heart attack, and we thought he was going to die. He wasn't able to work for a long time. We lost our family station wagon and were an inch away from losing our home.One day I walked into my parents' bedroom and there on the bed was the dress -- the one that only comes out for weddings, funerals and graduations. My mom was still in her slip as she paced around the room and repeatedly said, "We will not lose this house." She was 50 and had never worked outside the home. But she dried her tears, pulled on that dress, stepped into her high heels and walked to the Sears, where she got a minimum-wage job answering phones. That job saved our family. I grew up in Oklahoma with three older brothers who all went off and joined the military. Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a public school teacher. But for that you needed a college degree -- and to get a college degree you needed money my family didn't have. Still, I figured it out. I got a scholarship and headed off to George Washington University. Like a lot of Americans, my story isn't exactly a straight line. I dropped out of college at 19 after the first boy I ever loved asked me to marry him, and I got a job answering phones. Even though I thought my dream of teaching was over, I had a good job and a good life.