PERSONAL SCHOOL

I did it!

Documenting this moment is nearly as meaningful as experiencing it. Endlessly grateful for the ability to externalize, and in turn, immortalize, the feelings that have accompanied such a milestone: I am happy to obnoxiously announce I will be attending the University of California San Diego for Public Policy! My dream program in my favorite part of the state at one of the top research institutions in the country, I still can’t believe it. Summer session cannot come sooner, I’m ready to come face to face with the professors who’ve been featured in my podcasts!

Some clarification: I graduated high school June of 2016, and did so with almost 70 college credits going towards my high school graduation requirements and pre-nursing degree. I was on track for my BSN starting midway through my junior year in high school as a student of the full-time Running Start program, attending my local community college throughout my upperclassman years. In the summer following my graduation, I switched my major to political science and moved from Washington to California. The lack of articulation of certain credits between the two states, coupled with the fact I was technically still a fresh high school graduate, had me enrolling in a California community college for a year before I could be eligible for transfer. I applied this fall as a junior, and was accepted into (almost! so close!) everywhere I applied to, including UC Riverside, Santa Barbara, Davis, Irvine, and San Diego (my finesse game didn’t reach CAL).

As far as my “stats” go: my GPA was a 2.98 when I graduated high school, but California translated it to a 3.18. I think that was unweighted. It’s jumped a few parts of a point since I’ve began attending my CCC, and, after this 18-credit semester of A’s, will start rising back to what I had in my earlier high school years. Thank God. Also, I’ve never taken the SAT/ACT (they aren’t required once you take and pass college level math/science/reading/writing courses). I was placed on academic probation one quarter, and I got a 0.0 on an online prep-to-the-prep math course. My credits were a mess and my game-plan nonexistent. And still, I was admitted into a perfect university for me. There’s always room to be better! There’s always time to rectify your fuck-ups, to get your head outta your ass.

Anyway, here are the miracle essays! Sparing one, and slightly edited another, for privacy and all that.

Please describe how you have prepared for your intended major, including your readiness to succeed in your upper-division courses once you enroll at the university.

Although I spent the last two years pursuing a different major than my newly declared political science one, I did so as a high school student. This early start provided me the unique opportunity to interact with distinguished personalities and dynamics I otherwise may not have been exposed to. The political science arena is rich in diversity and pressure, two factors of an environment I’ve had the time to embrace. This advantage paved the way for a successful transition to, and a degree of familiarity with, the rigor of secondary education. Dual enrollment also allowed me to explore my options, leading me to discover the field of study I have always been passionate about. Nursing, my prior major, was a “safe” path to follow, but I realized I could afford to pursue my true interests once I looked into scholarships and other education benefits. I’ve been making my living from a blog centered around socio-political commentary since I was sixteen. My website has been dedicated to educating and inspiring others; it’s a published bundle of all my anticipated pursuits aiming to affect the world in one way or another. A major that would give me the concrete knowledge to do so became incontestable.
There was no hesitation following my new declaration, either. I immediately joined appropriate organizations– including, but not limited to, those revolving around social sciences such as sociology club, community outreach through H.E.L.P, and even political activity in Model UN. My venture with the most lasting impression was my internship on a district assembly member campaign, where I worked among people who were exercising the benefits my future courses would offer. I spent months canvassing with seasoned state capitol employees and scanning voter data alongside interns holding handfuls of degrees. Their advice and insight fed my desire for a future in political science and eased any remaining qualms I had left. Being a part of their success allowed me to envision my own.

Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

As a military brat of divorced parents, I was placed into a new environment every handful of months. Still, I maintained an above average academic performance throughout the near two dozen transfers I went through. I constantly pushed myself, opting for honor and AP courses until entering a dual enrollment program. Instability from moving wasn’t quite an inhibiting circumstance, just a difficult one. However, this struggle did reach its zenith during my junior year in high school when an argument with my mother resulted in her kicking me out.
Facing limited options, I took the soonest flight across the country to my father’s. As discouraging as it was to see how this would delay my degree plan– the move forced me to drop all but one online course– I persisted. When forced to make another choice, drop out of dual enrollment for a California high school, or move back home, I chose the latter option to commit to my higher level studies. By springtime, though, my living arrangement had gone awry and my savings had all but drained as a result. I found myself sleeping in my car at one point, homework and labs the furthest thing from my mind. It wasn’t until I saw those stark D’s on my transcript that I swallowed my pride and finally accepted help. I moved into my cousin’s living room– not the most luxurious of choices, but still the best one I had. Nothing could stop me from seeing the quarter through; I’d be the first in my family to graduate, after all. And I was! I dropped classes, but I didn’t drop out. I knew I was too distracted to ace tests, but I took them anyways. I trudged through until the end, albeit humiliated and disheartened at times. I finished high school with nearly seventy college credits, over twenty transfers on my transcript, and with no permanent address. Insecure and undignified living situations made learning a strenuous experience for me, but never a damning one.

What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

Due to my perpetual relocation, online communities have acted as my source of stability. The blog I created during high school served not only as a source of income, but a substitution for the lack of structure at home. It was an outlet to cope with the persisting insecurities no one was around to help me deal with. My site eventually evolved into a safe space for young girls struggling in similar ways; we were united through our submission to external pressures and internal dissonance. Wanting to emphasize the need to reject such conformity, I decided to resurrect an eye-catching fad: I grew out my underarm hair and proceeded to dye it bright blue.
With my comfortably sized audience, nearing 130,000 followers, the statement spread quickly. My photos and videos were featured on television and radio shows across the world. I was invited onto a Huffington Post Live panel, interviewed and published on the cover of New York Times, and saw myself printed onto magazines in languages I couldn’t understand. What I did grasp, however, was that the majority of this attention had been negative; I was brutally criticized by people who didn’t even know my name, who left hundreds of thousands of comments on major outlets I could hardly scroll to the bottom to. It was difficult to become a target within forums I once found solace in, but throughout all of this I was still able to reach and inspire a broad audience. More and more women followed suit, gaining confidence in such a trivial action society condemns so pointedly. The barrage of insults was replaced by grateful messages from girls who stood up to their critical partners, abusive parents, and toxic peers. With an act as simple as tossing my razor, I was able to pour more female empowerment into my community. I was able to become the structure and source of help I once needed, for others.

FIN!

Thank you in advance to all the love. I’ve the best support system in the world! Its extension through the virtual realm…ugh. Too neat. Thank you, thank you!

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