The Time has come again for thousands of high school seniors around the national. In a few months, every high school senior will find out what college he or she is going to attend: and this is one of the biggest moments in a teenager’s life. America is the land of opportunities and each one of us has the potential to be who we want to be in our lives. We all have big dreams and college is one of the stepping stones before we can reach those dreams.
Just a year ago I was submitting my applications for college and I remember the atmosphere in my household, there was pressure and anxiety. There was pressure on me to get into a good college and pressure to meet my parents’ expectations. My mother was born in the Philippines and fought her way out of poverty to live the American dream. My father is a Hispanic American who was raised on the chili farms of New Mexico and, through education and hard work, my father was the first and only child out of 15 kids to graduate from college. I should also mention that he graduate from Cornell University, and Ivy League school. I learned from their life stories to always work hard because anything is possible. I had a legacy to live up to and cultural responsibility to uphold.
As an Asian American I understand the expectations that many parents in the Asian community have for their children. A lot of my friends joke about living with a “tiger mom”, but sometimes that is a reality for some Asian American kids. In America, we are expected to do the best we can because we are so blessed to have a chance at the American dream. My mother always tells her story of how she immigrated to America and the sacrifices she had to endure to create a good life in this country. She tells her story to remind others and especially me, that hard work and perseverance can get a person anywhere. There are so many stories like my mother’s story and soon they all become a cultural symbol for the Asian community. We, Asian Americans, are hard workers and we know that there is no limit to the possibilities in our world. We will work hard and try our best, but sometimes things happen for a reason.
I remember applying to the best schools for International Studies in America; Georgetown, Tufts, Columbia, American University, Denver University, and Macalester College. I also applied to UNM just in case I was not accepted to the school of my choice, which was Georgetown University. I thought I was the perfect student for all the schools, but I knew I had one weak point and that was my test scores; ACT and SAT. Everyone told me that every college is going to want me and they are going to fling money at me because of my academic record and the amazing amount of extracurricular activities I did. When college interviews began, I was so nervous and confident. I had interviews with Georgetown and Denver University which went extremely well. Denver University was so amazing by what I had accomplished during my high school years that they wanted to accept me on the spot and even called the head of the admissions office to try and get me a full scholarship. In the end I was accepted to American University, Denver University, and UNM. I was disappointed that I did not get accepted to Georgetown, but I said to myself, “They may have not accepted me this time, but they will accept me for graduate school. Even though I told myself that, I was still disappointed in myself for not getting accepted to my dream school and not fulfilling the expectations that many people had for me. The worst feeling was that I had failed my parents and I blamed myself for being a bad student and not studying hard enough for the exams. I know that it sounds like a soap opera, but it was something that was really hard for me to accept at the time. Even though I was accepted to three of the universities, I still felt as if I failed. So the choices were between the three and the deciding factor was money in the end, I choose UNM and it turned out that UNM was not as bad as I thought it was. It is my first year at UNM and I am officially a sophomore. I have received amazing opportunities to participate in some unique things that go on at the university such as doing a research project for the National Security Studies Program in Cairo, Egypt. I received all A’s for my first semester and I plan on keeping that up.
I wanted to share that story because I think it is important for students and parents to realize that success comes in a number of different forms. We may not get what we want, but it is our responsibility to make the best of whatever comes our way. There will be detours along the way, but if a person is determined then he will accomplish all the goals he set out to do. For example, I did not get into the college of my choice, but that has not stopped me in my pursuit to work for the US Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer. Your child will face challenges, but as Asian Americans I am confident we can surpass these challenges.
All Asian communities have different standards for their children, but one thing that we all have in common is the desire for our kids to succeed. Remind them that there is no room to be lazy in America. I have seen too many young adults who have become complacent towards their lives, due to the fact they live a life without worry. They have lost their hunger for knowledge and for learning, but we can rekindle that passion by guiding our future generations. If we want our children to do great things in life, then we should support them 100% of the way. I encourage parents to take an active role in your children’s life, because they need your guidance and wisdom. No matter what happens to your child as he or she applies for college, remember to always be there for them. If they do not get accepted to their dream college, make sure that they know it is okay. Remind them that the most important thing is to continue to work hard on their education no matter what college they end up attending. As Asian Americans let us be a testament to what hard work and determination can accomplish, let us never give up.