Describe the world you come from, for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations?
Ever since I can remember, my sister Patty has been in jail for either drug use, theft or gang-banging. I’ve started off some high school courses sitting on the floor for two weeks because of overcrowded classrooms. I walk home every day down streets filled with graffiti, drug dealers and prostitutes. How has this world shaped my aspirations? By embedding me with the insatiable desire to pursue a college degree. If there is one thing I know to be true from firsthand experience it’s that the only way to change things for the better in my community will be from the inside out. And first it starts with me.
I have done much to thrive in spite of the obstacles persistent in my environment. I cannot stop the tagging, the prostitution, or the gangs. I cannot stop my peers from getting pregnant or dropping out. But what I can do is get the best education I can possibly obtain. Often I had to look elsewhere to enrich my opportunities. I’ve enrolled in college classes while still in high school, asked teachers one-to-one about subject material beyond the scope of the class, and read extensively on my own about topics of great interest to me. I also joined clubs to expand my educational opportunities. Most importantly though, through ambition, determination, and resilience, I have turned what could have been a world of depravity and ignorance into a landscape of opportunity.
The traits I developed in pursuing a better education have also proven beneficial to other endeavors, whether it involved academic competitions, athletics, or simply learning new skills. When our novice trebuchet team was ridiculed and told we had no chance, we forged on and ended up placing 3rd in regional competition despite numerous obstacles. When my very own teachers told me how hard the AP tests were and claimed I’d be lucky if I got a 3 on even one of them, I studied and studied and ended up passing multiple exams with 4s and 5s. I joined track even though I was hardly what one would call athletic and I trained for hours a day until I was finally able to vault. When presented with the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. to attend the 2004 presidential inauguration, I did not give up when I learned of the cost. Instead I sold Rice Krispies bars until I finally raised the whopping $800. Essentially I have learned to take initiative.
No matter where I go, I am determined to be successful. I am going to find a way to make it beyond the inner city. I want to be pushed to my limits. Ultimately, I have learned that I am the person who will solely determine my fate and I am confident I have what it takes to succeed at the next level and beyond.