I do not agree with you publicly posting this as it is a violation of trust between you and the company you work for. I do however fully support you, understand where you are coming from, and have walked in your shoes.
Thank you for being brave enough to enlighten people about what it really is. Rarely do company executives walk and drive a 10 mile radius of where they place their offices to figure out how much their employees will have to pay to work there each day. They don’t take the bus and time it from the areas they pay you to live in. They definitely don’t think about their food budget each week. I bet only 1 takes the time to calculate how your tiny food budget after paying rent, transportation, student loans, etc. impacts your health in the future. That is why they cover your medical… it’s not just to get you to work and keep you healthy, it’s so they can feel better about denying you proper health today. That last statement, is what no one says consciously, but being paid $12.25 in the Bay area is putting it into action.
I’ve never been fired, I have been laid off. When that happened to me, I went back to school for my Masters and took a job I knew I could never get laid off from. :-) I am more than confident, your next steps will be to find the path that will lead you to the success you’ve yearned for. The same success that they lie to us about having in the form of a nice apartment, car, and paid bills. ;-) You have to work for it and as you get further in your career, there will become things that are less important that will surprise you and hindsight moments that will crush you. You are talented and have the capability to build something great from this experience. Best of luck to you, and this moment, you take forward as you build. It will keep you and teach you, & give you the power to do more for someone else in the future when faced with the same opportunity.