Uprooting skillfully winning every class spelling bee

Uprooting their lives and traveling across the globe from Ethiopia to Washington, D.C., two newly weds arrived at the Land of Opportunity, anticipating the birth of their firstborn daughter. This was the story of my parents—immigrants who had left behind the comfort of everything they had come to know in life, in aspiration of a brighter future for me.

Pouring all of their immigrant hopes into me, they emphasized the importance of education, leading me to achieve various accomplishments such as becoming an advanced reader at the age of five, mastering my multiplication table before the rest of my classmates, and skillfully winning every class spelling bee competition. My parents have provided me with everything in the parameters of their capacity, to invest in my future and prove that the move to the U.S. was worth all those years of uncertainty and hardship.But being the first person in my immediate and extended family to attend college right after high school had its own hardships. This meant I had to assume the role of being the master of my own education as I had no close academic role models to consult with or parents who understood the processes that the American education system entailed.

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I recall a moment that still touches me today. I had ran to my mother to ask her for help on my algebra homework assignment. Yet, all I could perceive was the pain in her eyes as she scanned the complex formulas. Her hazel eyes spoke of disappointment about her inability to help her child with concepts that middle schoolers were learning. So I became my own teacher as I taught and tested myself on advanced topics, ranging from quadratics in Algebra to the linguistics of French.

In high school, I spent countless hours making my own decisions about where to attend college, how to apply to various schools, and filling out financial aid forms, simply because my parents’ lack of prior experience with this foreign school system. And I quickly learned resourcefulness by hunting for scholarship contests to enter in and borrowing marked-up SAT practice books from the public library. Not one human being is exempt from obstacles during their lives, but I can say that I am grateful for the adversities which have crossed my path, growing up as a first generation American, because they have strengthened my character and brought forth certain virtues I might otherwise never have known.

It has molded me into a self-sufficient student who takes full responsibility of maintaining  her academic life without needing the pressure of anyone else to do so. I am self-motivated in actively seeking out opportunities, on my own, to better myself and my community. It has guided me to receive honorable awards and assume meaningful leadership roles in various distinguishable organizations. In the future, I dream of aiding and inspiring other children by showing them that who you are has little to do with where you came from, but rather who you become.


I'm Gerard!

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