This awesome comment is a post on it's own, Amy. We all have a road to take, and some are rough in spots. Sometimes long spots.
I think you've hit on a key concept - belonging. I love that a kid my daughter grew up with was asked, as a freshman, to relay a story of being discriminated against. He said he never felt he had. The teacher didn't like that - he was trying to make a point - but isn't this the result we want? He felt he belonged all along.