Hi Alison. I can relate to much of what you're saying. I flirted with college after high school, but ended up taking a trade instead of graduating.
The company I work for is quite large and has its own medical staff. When I, the lowly pipefitter, went in for my yearly physical a while back, I took a copy of Plato with me to pass the time--there are typically long waits on physical day.
The doctor who saw me noticed my book and said with dumbfounded indignation, "You're reading Plato?" He emphasized "You're," as if my station in life meant that I was too dumb to comprehend The Republic.
Like you, I return to that moment often, and I find fresh motivation and a spirit of defiance for classist assumptions every time.
Thanks for sharing!