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UC and Common App Responses

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  • Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced?

I have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity by participating in the College Readiness Academy at Antioch High School to prepare me for math before I went to high school. This helped me since it gave me a head-start to what I would be learning in Algebra in ninth grade so when I took the class, I already knew some concepts from this summer program and I was able to get ahead and do very well in that class. Other academic opportunities that I’ve taken advantage of are taking AP and advanced classes throughout my high school career. In sophomore year, I took AP World History and Advanced English, in junior year, I took AP US History and AP Language and Composition, and in senior year, I’m taking AP Biology and AP Psychology.

These classes have helped me as they’ve made me a more efficient student and have increased my understanding of how college classes are like. Taking on these academic opportunities have been challenging and I might not have succeeded all the time, but I’ve realized that I can’t be afraid to fail because when I don’t challenge myself, I don’t learn anything new and I don’t allow myself any room for growth so that’s the reason why I believe taking academic risks are important. I have also overcome an educational barrier because when I was thirteen years old, I had an operation on my back during school so I was unable to go to school for a couple weeks. Because of this, I had to do my homework while I was bedridden on a hospital bed. My grades in school dropped during that time because I didn’t have anyone to teach me how to do my homework and I had to learn it all myself which was very difficult but it made me realize that even though I may have to stay in a hospital bed all day, that doesn’t make me in anyway different from my peers because I still have to do my homework no matter where I am.

  • 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?

The most significant challenge I’ve faced was when I was twelve and thirteen years old, I had a series of spinal fusions for scoliosis that affected me physically and emotionally. I remember feeling like a whole different person after those operations and my mom asking the doctor, “What’s wrong with her? Why is she not straight like she was before?”, because when I woke up from my first operation, I stood up and was leaning to one side.

I felt physically compromised as I couldn’t do a lot of things, like swim and carry heavy objects, and I was going through depression because I felt out of place with people around me since I believed I was abnormal and different for having a back brace and having to roll a backpack around school. This affected my academic performance because when I was thirteen, I had two surgeries in September of 2014 and during that time, school was starting and I was getting a lot of homework. It was an inconvenient time to have back operations, but I had to endure doing my homework without a teacher to assist me and teach me important lessons, which led to me being behind in school and not performing very well academically.

When I was released from the hospital, I was still unable to go back to school so my science teacher would come to my house and tutor me on all the homework that I had in order for me to get back on track. This helped me greatly and I was finally starting to get better grades in school so I was very grateful. Afterwards, I remember I went to an awards ceremony for having a 3.0, even though my grades dropped so I wasn’t very happy with that. I’ve overcome this by recognizing that I might not be like others, who didn’t have to stay in a hospital bed for weeks and use a back brace, but I should embrace my differences and be grateful for the opportunities that I have, even when I’m bound to a hospital bed.

Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

An academic subject that inspires me is Biology because I love learning about evolution, genetics, and all the concepts that tie into this class. Biology allows me to learn more about the evolution of animals and how animals inherit their genes from their parents as well as the inner structure of animals and even humans. This class has had a big impact on me and how I view the world because it made me look at animals not only as cute, furry creatures but also as interesting, complex living beings that have influenced our world in so many ways, like by allowing Charles Darwin to discover the theory of natural selection.

My love for Biology developed from my love for animals because since I was a child, I’ve always loved caring for animals and I used to feed my cousins’ dogs since sometimes they wouldn’t have food in their bowls and they grew to really love me so whenever I’d come over, they’d jump around and lick me. Outside of the classroom, I volunteer at the animal shelter to gain more experience with animals and learn how to care for them, like cleaning their cages and litter boxes. Working in the animal shelter has made me realize that whatever career I choose to pursue after college, it will involve animals as I have a big place in my heart for them.

Also, because I love Biology so much, I’ve decided to take AP Biology to learn more about this fascinating subject and go more in depth so I can get a head start, already have prior knowledge of the subject, and earn college credit so I won’t have to take the class again in college. My interest in Biology has made me realize that I would like to major in Biology in college and that my future career will relate to Biology, such as a veterinarian or a biologist.

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

I have made my community a better place by volunteering at the Antioch Animal Shelter and being in clubs at school. Volunteering at the animal shelter allows me to give animals a place to stay so they can remain off the streets and be cared for by being given living essentials in order for them to be adopted. I’ve helped around my community by volunteering at my local church and at an event for children at a local park. Also, in ninth grade, I went on a field trip with my Environmental Science class at Antioch High School to pick up trash and weeds from a park to make it look clean and well-maintained so visitors can enjoy the beautiful view of the park. Volunteering in my community has made me realize that it’s important to get involved in your community to make it a better and safer place for everyone, to protect and keep the environment looking pristine, and to maintain a happy environment because a happy environment produces happy citizens.

Though I have taken part in making my community a better place, I’ve also participated in making my school a better place. I’ve gotten involved in clubs such as Garden club and Interact club. Garden club has influenced me to take care of my environment to make our society a beautiful place by growing flowers and we’ve also made the school a healthier place by growing various crops to give fresh, organic food to people who need them. The Interact club is a club that I joined to get more involved in my school and community since this club allowed me to volunteer at a local park for a children event, which I mentioned previously, to give children a good time and make them happy. Participating in my community and at school has made me realize that helping out at school is important because by participating in school and in society, you’re acting as a role model for others by motivating them to get involved and become an advocate for positive change in their neighborhoods.

The Common Application Personal Statement

Some students have a background, identity, or interest that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

“Wake up! Get ready for school!”, my mom exclaimed to my siblings and I. This is how all my mornings begin, with the right dose of sleep deprivation and my mom’s yelling. We’re not just any ordinary family. We’re too loud for our own good and we add as much hot sauce as we can to all of our authentic Mexican dishes. Growing up, one word that I would describe my family being is dysfunctional. At every family reunion there’s heavy drinking, Mexican music blasting through the speakers, and arguing amongst the adults, while the children run around and play. At times, it gets exhausting, but I wouldn’t want it any other way because they make me proud to be a Mexican-American and without my heritage, I would be nothing.

Though I thoroughly enjoy being Mexican, there are some struggles that I endure because of my race. One of my struggles is that it always seems like I don’t truly fit in amongst the Mexicans and the Americans. I’m seen as too American for the Mexicans and too Mexican for the Americans. Sometimes, it’s hard to find a healthy balance between the two which leads me to question who I am every day. Also, I don’t speak Spanish fluently so there are times when I feel like I’m looked down on by many Mexicans for not knowing my family’s native language but that’s so far from the truth. In fact, Spanish was my first language as a child and I used to speak it all the time but somewhere along the way, I started going to a school where nobody spoke Spanish so I had to learn English instead. Afterwards, I started speaking more and more English until I knew more English words than Spanish words. Along with some of the struggles I face, there are also many perks, such as great Latin music, delectable food, and the eloquent dancing. These three things all amount to a cultural explosion at every party we have. So, it’s safe to say that the perks outnumber the struggles because, in my experience, being a Mexican is amazing and it makes me glad to say that I’m happy with my identity.

Being raised in a flawed Hispanic family and being a minority in a country that favors the majority, my experiences can be both sweet and sour, but one thing’s for sure: no matter what obstacles I face, I will never wish to be anyone else because my hardships can’t define who I am, only I can.

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