Imagine sitting at your computer on a Saturday afternoon typing an essay to get into the college of your dreams, struggling to recollect every detail that needs to be included to adequately express who you are and the work that you have done to contribute to your community. Instead of going on and on about how I’ve done this or that, worked here or there, I’d rather tell the story of how I got to this very moment.
At three years old, my academic career started at a montessori school, where I thrived. According to my parents, my favorite words were “I can do it by myself.” From an early age I was able to choose the direction of my learning, which played a vital role in my development. I went to an elementary school in a suburban school district, where I felt out of place. When I was seven years old, I experienced profound trauma and consequently repeated third grade at a private Catholic school. Everything from the culture of the school to the uniform was different for me. After a while, I grew comfortable and adjusted to the changes. However, my parents got divorced, which forced me to move from my home and school. Not too long after fifth and sixth grade, we moved again. At this new school, I realized that I was passionate about learning but was never fond of the structure of school. Sitting at a desk for eight hours in a classroom with no windows just wasn't my cup of tea.
I began to research homeschooling and alternative options and presented it to my mom by the time I graduated eighth grade. I started high school in the same district and by the end of my freshman year I decided that homeschooling would be the best option for me. My mom agreed and I finally had the freedom and opportunity to travel and speak at the National Conference Against Domestic Violence in New Orleans. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, we moved again and my mom enrolled me in another private school. After moving around so often, I adjusted easily to the change. I was hoping that this would be the last time but by the end of my junior year I couldn't do it anymore so I stopped going to school until my mom agreed to let me do homeschool again. It wasn't because I wasn't capable of learning what they were teaching or passing the test. Despite my success and my position I was on the honor roll, I decided that being confined to the classroom was not conducive to my success.
I enrolled in an online school, which proved to be an interesting experience. Just when I thought the moving was over, my mother decided to move to Arizona unexpectedly. I tried to stay in Wisconsin and figure things out for myself when my mom left, but it proved to be harder than I anticipated, so I finished my last year of high school in Arizona. It was extremely challenging and it required schooling around the clock, including morning classes, online classes, and night classes. At times I did not think I was going to finish high school, but I did.
Moving around and adjusting to change became the norm for me, but what always stayed constant was my love for learning when I have agency over the direction of my education. For a while, I have felt called to become a teacher. I want to positively influence the structure of the class and motivate students in a way that I wish I would have been motivated.
Lack of finances and fear of failure, among other reasons, prevented me from attending college immediately after high school. Since high school, I have explored my interests and I have discovered a lot about myself, my learning style, and the work I plan to do in the near future. I have positively impacted my community as the program director of a youth program called Urban Underground, where I mentor and teach high school students. I became a Public Ally and I am now serving my second year as an Americorps member. It has been a rough yet enriching journey and I would not change my experiences for the world. It was not until this moment, as I sit here on a Saturday afternoon writing this essay to get into the college of my dreams, that I realized my struggles were just minor bumps in the road that ultimately helped me grow.
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