I tried to suppress who I truly am for most of my life. When I was a sophomore, I started to express my true emotions to my friends. I thought that I could come out on my own; however, within a week, everyone knew I was gay, and treated me differently. I could hear people muttering disgusting comments and rumors which destroyed every ounce of my happiness. I had few people to turn to; there was a point when the hate became so unbearable that my friend told me, “I don’t know how to fight for you anymore”. I was so downtrodden by the snide comments and disgusting rumors made about me, that I had convinced myself that I was the problem. Becoming immersed in the fear of what might be said behind my back, I lost focus of what truly mattered. I was not only suppressed by my peers, but also by myself because I thought there was something wrong with me for not being like everyone else. As the months passed, I realized that I should only be worried about how I see myself. I need to be there for myself and not care about what others have to say. I have since become proud of who I am, and have found parts of myself I would have otherwise not come to know if I hadn’t experienced these adversities. I used to be scared of what the future would hold for me, and how I would be treated. I have become determined to take this experience and allow it to help me see the world unclouded by hate as I reach forward to college and the future ahead of me.
At the age of seven, I was diagnosed with Uveitis, an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the eye and is a leading cause of blindness. One evening, I noticed my right eye had half of a pupil. I raced to my parents to show them. We rushed to the eye specialist and from then on my life drastically changed, as I was forced into adulthood. While most seven year olds were enjoying their youths, I spent every day for the next six years either at home or at the doctor’s office being examined and never knowing if I would see remission. Specialists, struggling to find the root cause of this disease, lined up and down the hallway to see me like I was some caged circus animal. Each time a new specialist started poking at my eye, I had to struggle with the fact this disease could possibly lead to permanent blindness, something a child should never have to consider. I’ve now been in remission for four years. My experiences taught me to deal with the often dramatic and difficult situations adults face. I’m still on the lookout for symptoms because there is a chance Uveitis may reemerge. This knowledge, although haunting at times, no longer frightens me. I wake up each morning feeling accomplished and strong, knowing I’ve conquered such a huge obstacle. Two years ago, I created a Uveitis support group, “From One Eye to Another,” to help children and families who are suffering from Uveitis. I am ready to help others, and myself, through difficult situations by being sympathetic and strong, and will carry enough courage with me to share my story. My transition has given me strength to face my future, and I look forward to applying what I’ve learned in University.
The biggest challenge I overcame was cutting ties with some of my best friends in order to keep them from steering me down the wrong path. High school is when people discover who they are, the lifestyle they want to live, and the boundaries they set. As you grow up with the same group of people over that four year time span you grow friendships that appear to seem inseparable. As the years progress and that graduation day gets closer, those friends who you can't imagine not spending your time with seem to change into a different person. They find who they are, and sometimes it is not the person you thought they were. Personal demons and vices, things you didn't even know existed in those early years of high school, all of a sudden take hold of some of your most cherished friends. Drugs, alcohol, laziness, depression, anxiety, recklessness, seem to be strangling the people you once thought didn't have a care in the world. The biggest battle that I had to deal with is being able to help those that I thought I could, and painfully sever the relationships with people I knew would bring me down with them. It is hurtful to watch those people you cared for drowning in problems you wish you could fix, but sometimes you have to watch your own back, and protect the goals and desires you are striving for as you leave high school and enter the real word. I have seen friends become addicted, drop out, and squander the life that they could have made more out of. It's sad to see, but I'm proud that I got out when I did , because if I didn't, I would be in those shoes leading me down the road to nowhere.
While in high school, I have overcome many challenges that helped prepare me for the road ahead. For starters, a challenge I had to overcome was managing school while running clubs and sports for the special education students at my high school. During my freshmen year of high school, I participated in a life changing event-involving students with disabilities. After having such a positive experience working with these students and connecting with them on a whole new level, I knew this was my calling. To get more experience and brighten my day, I decided to help coach the Special Olympics team at my school and run a club that encouraged inclusion between students with disabilities and students without. Although these activities were both time consuming and at some times stressful, they taught me a lot. Spending so much time with students with disabilities opened my eyes to the world of special education and from there, I fell in love. As a sophomore in high school I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I wanted to get a degree in special education. Putting so much time and effort into these students and the admirable program they were apart of motivated me to do nothing but my best in college and get the degree I’ve been dreaming about since my sophomore year of high school. As a sophomore in college, I still carry the same passion and drive I carried in high school.
“You have dangerously high blood pressure and you're at risk for numerous heart conditions.” As a seventh-grader who weighed 250 pounds, the doctor’s words seemed like a death-sentence. Next to my name he typed, “morbidly obese.” He explained that if I continued down the path I was traveling, I would not live beyond 30. What really exasperated the situation was the fact that I was of constant derision. I had no sense of self-worth; and, coupled with a feeling of complete alienation, every day brought new challenges, which I was unequipped to cope. I was sick of crying myself to sleep; and, even though I tried every diet, nothing seemed to to work. Despite my weight, I was proficient at basketball. Knowing that high school was approaching, I immersed my passion and spent every day after school at the local courts. I began shedding the weight and I was burgeoning into a component player. It was the first time I felt a pleasure of accomplishment, which I was unfamiliar with it. This marked the commencement of a new lifestyle that I spent my life rehearsing. As the months unfolded, my weight diminished as my self-esteem increased at an alarming rate. People began to notice my transformation, and the encouragement and compliments were more frequent and more meaningful. In eighteen months, I lost over 100 pounds. The most turbulent period of my life evolved into a turning point, which I will be eternally grateful. The dramatic loss of weight reinforced my philosophy that “if you want something, and you are willing to work beyond exhaustion, then no obstacle can come in your way.” Despite the struggles I endured I can honestly say, that this journey has provided me with a foundation on which to build the rest of my life.
The graduation party dwindled around me, and I serenely sat at the breakfast table of our family friend. Attentive to my physical state, my uncles approached me, settling themselves at the table. “Round Rock has taken you away from us,” one proclaimed jokingly. I chuckled in response, proceeding to inform them of my endeavors and interests. They intently attended to my words, offering supportive commentary. Suddenly, the tone of the discussion transformed after my uncle introduced the necessary topic. “So, have you thought about your future?” “I hope to be a doctor,” I enthusiastically responded, expecting their usual encouragement. The statement shifted the mood, and I glanced in confusion at both individuals. One grinned, pleased, while the other began to contemplate my words. After noticing my expression, he cautiously leaned forward, “I don’t know how I feel about female doctors.” My heart plummeted; until that moment, I had forgotten the difficulties: my gender, nationality, and the world’s opinion of my future. In middle school, I received hostility after my success in both a spelling bee and standardized assessment. When I earned the rank of Valedictorian, I received reluctant congratulations with reminders of my ethnicity. As an immigrant and dark female, I face the obstacles of my situation; even when I overcome those stereotypes, others refuse to forget. In a society where citizens rarely identify black females with success, I have fought to disregard the statistics. In my future, I refuse to allow my ethnicity and gender to become excuses. Just as I have ignored the offhand comments, I plan to continue in that attitude beyond high school. My desire to practice healing holds no relation to my physical characteristics. My determination to amount to more than a percentage on a demographic chart continues to be my motivation.
Throughout my childhood, I faced the challenge of living with a single parent. My dad always did his best to play the part of both roles, but it was a very difficult task. Living with only one parent brought many different obstacles. One of these obstacles started in middle school. When everyone began to judge each other, I had no one to teach me how to fix my hair, apply a little makeup, or make sure that my clothes matched. While other girls wore big bows and pretty dresses, I wore two different colored socks and an inside out t-shirt. Being different taught me at an early age that it was important to love and have confidence in yourself. People will always judge you, but if you love who you are, their opinions will not matter. Another obstacle I faced was learning to be independent. While my dad worked to support us, I had to figure things out for myself. This proved challenging at times, but it benefited me in the long run and instilled in me important character traits. Grades were a top priority and chores taught me work ethic and responsibility. Although growing up with one parent left voids, I know that the obstacles that I faced and what I learned will only add to my success in college. When others begin to doubt me, I will have the confidence in myself that I need to persevere. I will have no problem maintaining my grades because of the high standard that I have always held myself to. I also know that my integrity will allow me to act responsibly in all situations. As I look back on what I overcame and how it benefits me now, I realize that struggles and hardships are often a blessing in disguise.
I was eight years old when I moved to the States from Tehran, Iran. Although I had no previous knowledge of English, I was proficient in both Armenian and Farsi, which did help me learn English. Learning English was the educational barrier I had to face, making it difficult to succeed in school. Therefore, I set out to overcome this obstacle by going beyond of what I was capable of doing, which helped me learn that with enough effort, I can achieve great things. I overcame this impediment through the help of my mother, as she helped me learn English by reading to me, such as my books, homework and so forth by translating literally into either Armenian or Farsi. We would spend hours upon hours the night before every lesson so I could understand about photosynthesis so I can be able to raise my hand and finally answer a question rather than only asking them. This action increased my vocabulary and understanding of the language, thus allowing me to succeed in all of my classes. The first improvement I witnessed was my promotion from ELD 3 to Advanced English in less than a year in fifth grade. From then on, I have made English my first language, making school much easier to handle. What I learned from this is that any challenge that I face will not be as difficult as the barrier I faced as an immigrant. I have used my knowledge to advance myself in all academic fields further, from courses to community work, and to break all of the stereotypes set by others. And with these skills I should be able to use my skills to help my community and those who are having trouble in college just as my mother had helped me to succeed.
Middle School. How could I have dismissed the benighted comments, which rolled off naïve tongues- "You don't act like you’re black." "She's pretty, but her hair is weird." "I would never date a black girl. They’re too loud." The list goes on. I internalized their ignorance, and began believing that suppressing my blackness would be for the better. Maybe if I acted "more white", people would treat me with respect. I constantly pushed myself beyond standards, careful to never come across as “ghetto" or a "troublemaker". Even as a young child, it became normal for me to praise whiteness and denounce blackness. “It would be easier to be white,” I thought as I straightened my kinky locks, the burnt hair smell engulfing my entire being. Straight hair was “good hair”, and to be equal meant to be better than my race, or so I used to believe. In reality, embracing my race and rising above ignorance was truly what would make me phenomenal. For me, color was a brick wall that stifled my aspirations. Now I understand that I let society erase my race, that I pressured myself to assimilate to their ideals. Witnessing my people being profiled in the media because of their race, made me recognize that I could no longer subdue my identity. Disregarding my blackness would only make me a part of the problem. I have allowed my exterior to shape all aspects of my being. It is the root of my passion. Accepting my race has made me realize that the sky is not the limit, and neither is the color of my skin. I have finally discovered who I am. Going to college will allow me to further explore myself, and because of my past obstacles, I will be ready for anything in store.
Before applying to college, I had many habits to fix, and one of these was time management. Throughout elementary, middle, and high school time management was an challenge for me, particularly because of my lack of experience in planning and desire to make things perfect regardless of time. At first, my issue with time management was that I took too long to complete projects, often focusing on minute details. My teachers discussed the problem with my parents and I became less of a perfectionist, yet my time management struggles remained. Throughout high school, time management was an ongoing battle. I grasped the importance of planning and prioritizing during my senior year around the time for college applications. Having to prepare for college is what made the importance of time management click for me, and although I would not consider myself an guru, I am much further along in my understanding.
One of my biggest challenges was remaining in the school athletic team and keeping up with my academics! I was caught between excelling in sports and excelling in my academics in order to secure admission to College. My focus was often distorted with anxiety to win laurels at the next sporting event instead of studying. Overcoming my obsession to excel in sports encouraged me to study harder. I had to relinquish my being the Captain of the School team, which required daily practice to two hours a week. The sudden change was hard for me because I had to learn to balance maintaining my grades and still be the Sports Prefect. The Great thing about this situation was the advice and support of my Dad and the experience I garnered when I was appointed the School Time-Keeper. He encouraged me to determine to how much time my commitment to sports was within a week. I confronted this in different ways: I looked for opportunities to join study groups, met with my teachers for advice and created a schedule to which ensured that I spent ample time studying. This experience taught me to make better decisions, embrace new challenges in my path, and contribute positive methods to ensure success. Overcoming my obsession to excel in sports, the advice offered by my Dad encouraged me to be who I am today. He taught me to make better decisions, embrace new challenges and contribute positive methods to ensure success in my life. My parents often cautioned about how important it was for me to earn a College degree in order to keep up with the family tradition. Presently, I just rounded up my first year in college with a hope to excel.
Abuse. An ugly word that most people can't fathom or really understand the damage it causes when it happens to you. I'm one of the few that can say it's real; I've seen it, I've heard it, and I've lived it, I have overcome it, and it has made me who I am today. Statistically, growing up in an abusive household should have sent me spiraling down with low grades, low GPA, and low confidence in myself. Instead, I took everything I had and threw myself into school, something I knew I was good at. Rather than going out and vandalizing property to get my anger out, I spent hours researching mathematical equations that helped break the German Enigma in WWII and other related coding machines. Instead of believing the constant doubts of those around me, I grew determined to become more than anyone ever thought was possible. I jumped into college and now plan to transfer to a 4 year university to join a military program, the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), to make something of myself. Growing up in a negative environment gave me the determination to become something more than what I was given. It gave me the mindset to believe that no matter the cards I was given, no matter how hard the midterm materials may seem or the course may feel, I will stay up until 3 A.M. studying, then get up for my 8 A.M. class, determined to ace it and prove them wrong. I will always remember the nights I stayed in my room, listening to screams just outside my door. With that in mind, I will also remember how much that showed me just how capable I am of doing anything I put my mind to, against all odds.
One important aspect regarding my life growing up was that I had to face numerous obstacles at such a young age. To begin with, the most significant challenge I endured was being born with life-threatening allergies, and asthma. Most people don't understand the severity unless it's them, of course. I learned that throughout many various encounters with people that underestimated my peanut allergy until I ultimately broke out in hives. This obstacle has allowed me to become a particular individual who’s on top of everything I do. I always have to make sure that any food I get has nothing I’m allergic too. This ideology also pertains to my schoolwork, since I’m an online high school student. My future career is to become a Pediatric Immunologist. Furthermore, I want to specialize in both allergies and asthma. Not only do I find it interesting, but I have experienced these two health conditions myself. These conditions have motivated me to help others who have faced similar challenges like myself. Personally, I know how arduous it can be. However, if I was able to persevere, then so can they. If there's just one thing that I would like to do before I die, it's to leave a lasting impact on this world. If I can make a positive difference, then I feel I've achieved my life's purpose.
Near the end of my senior year of high school we received news that my dad had died. At the age of 42, he had passed away peacefully in his sleep. I was at a school fundraiser when I received the call, and I remember crying hysterically as we drove home. That night, I told my mother, between sobs, “He won’t see me graduate.” That was all that mattered in that moment. The real lessons came later. I have always been a serious student and a responsible teen, but I have spent the past few years assuming I would always have the support of my loved ones. This event taught me that in the blink of an eye, people can leave you. The most valuable lesson I learned from my dad’s death is I have to stand on my own two feet. There is no instructional guide on how to deal with the death of a parent, especially when it is unexpected. This was the biggest challenge I have ever had to face. Now, as I approach graduation and college, I know that I need to press through and continue to strive to be the best version of myself. While I am very grateful for the love of my family, when someone close to you dies, there is no substitute. Everyone has their own place in your life, and each has special meaning. I have a void in my heart, but I have learned to cherish every moment, live to my fullest potential, and enjoy the gift of life. I will do all I can during my college years to better myself so that I can leave a mark on this world. No one knows how long they have on this earth. I intend to make my time count.
Running down the field trying to stop the other team from scoring. I wish I could tell a great and exciting tale of how I tore my ACL, but the true event was anything but. I planted my foot to turn with the wide receiver and pushed off. As soon as I pushed, I heard the dreaded popping noise and crumpled to the ground. No one touched me, I just fell. It is crazy to think that the tearing of one small ligament can keep me from running for seven months. I remember crying, not because of the pain but because I knew I lost two track scholarships to run collegiate track at Columbia University and Prairie View A&M University. In a small part of my brain, I knew what I had done, even though I tried to convince myself otherwise. I had to overcome the challenge of ending my sports dreams and continue my academic endeavors. I was smart in high school but wanted to continue my athletic dreams even more. Tearing my ACL showed me that academics will take me farther in life than any sport. My athletic dreams may be over but I will still continue my passion of sports. My plan is to go to medical school and becoming a physician. I want to be an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine because I have had many knee injuries and surgeries during my sports career in high school. My goal is to become the best orthopedic surgeon in the nation, so professional athletes like LeBron James and Dak Prescott will take advantage of my great services. The road to becoming a practicing doctor is a very demanding one but I believe I have the motivation and ability to overcome challenges to continue my education in college.
I’m not from a poor, developing country – I grew up in Sterling Heights, Michigan and live in Dallas, Texas now. Thankfully, I’ve never had to face a life-threatening illness – I’m in good health. My story is not a dramatic one but one of taking chances, working hard, falling down and getting back up with bruised knees but back up nonetheless. I was on a “safe” path with a good telecom company for fifteen years and decided to live out a dream by completing my Culinary Arts degree and becoming a chef. I worked five days a week, went to culinary school classes for four hours every night after work and even made time to volunteer at a large downtown Dallas hospital. I realized my dream and am so happy that I took that risk when so many thought I was crazy. My life challenge happened a little over a year ago when I was unexpectedly laid off so finances are a huge concern now and getting even tighter. Life is changing again so I am pursuing a new dream and working diligently towards completing my Bachelor’s degree online at Arizona State University in Business and Global Leadership which I began back in 2014. Finally learning to ask for help AND being able to accept it is allowing me to dust myself off and focus on my studies. Any one of these generous scholarships would help me move several steps closer to proudly completing my degree and re-entering the workforce as a training manager so that I can educate people allowing them to grow and improve themselves, their work environments and their communities. Thank you for your consideration.
Of the many challenges I've faced, laziness definitely stands out like a sore thumb. The phrase "i'll do it later" was almost as automatic as "Thank you" for me. I would continuously give myself a foolish pep talk about how I can always do it later so I don't bombard myself with too much for the sake of my own sanity, when in reality I was just going to lay in bed on twitter. In the latter part of my senior year, I obtained a job at very popular food joint, and immediately was in for the rudest wake-up call. To be brief, my second week working there, my manager kept me longer than intended which of course infuriated me because I wanted to be at home so bad, I told him I had to go then left in a haste with the tasks I had been assigned that night, uncompleted. The next day I came into work I was scolded for my actions the night before. To this day I will forever remember the harsh conversation we had that day, because it altered my mentality. My manager made it very clear that what I did was irresponsible and unforgivable in the real world of business (though fortunately, he let me make it). Since then I began training myself to work harder and smarter, and accepted the fact that the tangible things in my life could wait. Staying up later than usual or not having any time for social media are some of the costs I will pay in college for a successful academic life. Nothing comes easy and this encounter I had with my manager has helped me overcome my lazy tendencies. I am more prepared for college and no longer will be hindered by laziness.
The first house I remember was a dusty, dilapidated structure. As a child I knew this as home, as safe haven. At the time I didn't know that this house was a hazard. There was lead paint, mold, and raccoons living underneath the floorboards. My mother told me of how she wrapped us in our winter coats and used a hair dryer to keep us warm when there was no heat. We were soon forced to leave. At age six my family was evicted. At 11 we lost our home to a fire. At 12 it was foreclosure. At 16 we were evicted again. During high school I benefited from the Mckinney-Vento Program, created to assist homeless and displaced students. Despite these obstacles I worked to maintain a positive outlook. When you are born into poverty you have no choice but to look for the benefits of setbacks. No choice but to weigh the odds of survival. I know how to make a meal out of poetry. I have found shelter in paintbrushes and canvases. I have grown accustomed to creating temporary homes. Learned to find solace in unfamiliar spaces. Because of this education appeals to me strongly. The wonderful thing about education is that it resides inside you. You don't need a suitcase to hold your knowledge or a trash bag for your experiences. .After I graduated I was unable to attend college because of finances. Being forced to take a year off really motivated me to work even harder to reach my goals. The many struggles I have faced in my life have prepared me to fight for what I want. Searching for a place to call home enabled me to build a home within myself. And to someday help others to do the same.
Gasping for air, fighting for life; black and blue, I entered the world 2,800 meters above sea level, in Quito, Ecuador. Exposed to multiple languages, I invented my own - a Fanesca - a blend of Spanish, English, and Hindi sounds – leaving my brain in a conundrum. As a sensitive 5-year-old child, I was subject to deep anguish seeing my father leave us. Thereafter, my mother moved us to her homeland, India to raise us. There, I was diagnosed with a processing delay learning disorder creating the image that I was a slow learner. I grew up in a challenging environment where my existence was being minimized by statements like “you will never play sports, dance, music and excel in school”; “basically, you don't have any concrete valuable skills to offer to the world” was the bombardment of statements I received from my teachers and peers. This ignited me to become a self-learner; overcoming my fear of music as I began playing tenor saxophone in jazz ensembles; harsh words of my gym teacher calling me ‘lethargic” motivated me to get over my sluggishness and now as a vegan athlete I swim and run competitively. Overcoming stage fright was possible as I danced as a drag queen in the spirit of fundraising for American Cancer Society. Taking charge of my destiny, not only was I able to prove all the cynics wrong, I created the “possibility of the impossible”, using perseverance, and gratitude. Self-reflection unveiled my hidden potentials of leadership and communication, propelling me to live my life authentically and powerfully. Currently, I transferred from community college to Clark University to double major in Geography and Social Entrepreneurship, minoring in documentary films about global environmental issues. My purpose and passion are to make climate change a forefront issue in society.
In four years I have experienced more growth and knowledge than I have in all eighteen years of my life. From freshman year anxiety that landed me in the hospital for several weekends to senior year stresses, my emotions have been at an all time high. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t trade these years for anything because it has made me the person I am today. Through my endurance, perseverance and conquest, I am now ready to tackle yet another feat: College. This is the result of taking College Calculus I in my senior year. I was almost positive I could pass. My hope quickly diminished after I saw the grade for my second test. The stresses of my senior year were weighing heavily on my back. I had to drop Calculus I. When I made my final decision, I went to my teacher’s office the next day. He opened the door and I begged him to let me drop the class with tears in my eyes. I told him “I’m going to fail the final” and he simply replies with “then fail” while closing the door in my face. I had class later that day and I was still teary-eyed. He called me outside of class and told me that I need to be happy like I always am and continue to do my work. After that day, I knew I couldn’t dwell in what could have been. I decided that I would finish strong. I spent hours studying for each test and finally the day of the final came. I walked out feeling confident. A couple hours later, I checked my grades and I had a 95 for the class. In college, I will now have more faith in myself when times get tough for all flowers were once seeds.