Applied to Berkeley in 2012: Denied Admission (Without EAS assistance)
Describe the world you come from—for example, your family, community or school—and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations. I stand up as the bus approaches. The flat faced, round-featured vehicle has become so familiar that its presence comforts me. We were first acquainted four years ago when, in a yellow uniform with bold black lettering, it greeted me on my first day of high school. Every school day since, we’ve traveled three hours together, getting to know every patch of gridlock and punishing pothole between home and Hamilton. I was even introduced to its friends and family—metros of every color and number. Commute has become an essential feature of my life, and transit has physically fastened by world.
It is never crowded at the first stop, so I have the privilege of randomly selecting which confetti-upholstered seat I will occupy for the hour. I take a window seat and put in my ear buds. I behold the setting as it rapidly changes beyond the scratched, plexi-glass window. Observation is one of the most important skills I have acquired in commute. Through observation, one can detect the ambience and therefore adaptations necessary for a setting. For example, the temperament of Chatsworth—the tired cowboy town located in a super-suburb of LA that I call my home—is very different than the atmosphere of mid-city Los Angeles—the multicultural metropolis that houses Hamilton High School. These vastly different focal points of my life have guaranteed me an ability to adapt and adjust to my surroundings. They have also suggested to me the importance of multiculturalism.
I watch people get on and off of the bus, paying specific attention to the racial variety. This mix of people is absent from Chatsworth. Throughout middle school, I struggled to feel sound in such a homogeneous hometown. The cultural composition of my high school, however, satisfied my desire for not only diversity in people, but diversity in experience. I have flourished in this environment, for it has enriched my understanding of people and fostered my sense of compassion. This sentiment is not met without action, for in transit I have also learned that importance of forward motion. In a bus, everyone is progressing together through one vehicle, and I have applied that concept to my own aspirations.
The first hour of travel is concluded in an auditory fashion, my steps mimicking the walking bass line in my ears. Music has always been an important part of my world—a soft accompaniment there for every ride, however bumpy.
With accustomed awareness, I cross the street and enter the metro-rail station, making my way to the train car. It is suited in silver, slick and serious compared to my old, yellow friend. Rather than choosing an unappealingly upholstered seat, I stand. The jolting start of the train reminds me that there is always tumult in transit, but I can endure it because of the balance learned on other buses. It does not matter, my destination—it matters how I choose to get there, and all I learn along the way.
Applied to Berkeley in 2013: ADMITTED (EAS assisted)
Describe the world you come from—for example, your family, community or school—and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
My childhood was saturated with soul music. I grew up beside a piano, passionately singing over my father’s accompaniment. I chose the Academy of Music at Hamilton High School to pursue my love for singing. My family supported my aspirations, but was skeptical of the three hour commute. However, I convinced them to let me attend.
Hamilton, the most diverse school in LAUSD, was unlike my homogenous home town. The choir was full of students from all ethnicities. Our shared passion for singing created racial harmony, and we thrived. But, outside of choir, we self-segregated. Like measures in a bar, we were sectioned off on the quad at lunch by an invisible social standard. I recognized this prelude to prejudice from a previous experience. In junior high, some students with my skin color called themselves white supremacists. They refused to associate with anyone outside of their race, and bullied me because I wouldn’t do the same. I was raised in a family where color was irrelevant, and racism was unacceptable.
In high school, I wouldn’t allow social barriers to inspire hate. I joined a local anti-racist organization called AWARE-LA to develop skills to approach the subject. I learned about political correctness, cultural awareness, and white privilege. When I was well versed in this vocabulary, I began practicing it at Hamilton. I received sanction from my school and the sponsorship from my AP US History teacher to start the first Cultural Integration Club (CIC). My history class cultivated my interest in social justice. I enjoyed learning the origins of these lingering issues.
In CIC, I facilitated conversation about issues of race in our school, encouraged culture exchange and created a safe space for discussion. We sat in the center of the quad championing our unification and unwillingness to conform to social norms. I received a Princeton Prize in Race Relations. I want to attend a UC because diversity is similarly valued.
I attended Hamilton in the pursuit of one passion and discovered another. My avidity toward social justice led me to introduce another cause to campus-- feminism. Wednesdays I fought against racial iniquity, and Thursdays I combatted gender inequality in Girls Learn International (GLI). As a member of GLI's Junior Advisory Board and president of my schools’ club, I led fund raisers and advocated for girls' rights. I even got the opportunity to attend the United Nations 57th Commission on the Status of Women as GLI Student Delegate. The UN CSW57 collectively represented both culture and gender. I was intrigued by the overlap in agendas, and intend on taking culture and gender studies courses at a UC. The experience shaped and cemented my goal to one day be the US Ambassador to the United Nations.
Last summer, I exercised my interest in the culture and global community by traveling through Europe on my own. I intend on spending time abroad while in college. In my gap year, I expect to travel and work abroad. I currently intern for GLI and Feminist Majority Foundation, as to build the foundations for my future at the UN.