Sitting down at the dinner table, I realized that I had never asked my mother what it was like immigrating to the United States. There are movies and documentaries that film people laying in the desert and running away from border control to capture the experience of illegally immigrating to the U.S.; however, it never hit me that I had a person who went through the same thing sitting right next to me. My mother is an immigrant from Ecuador. Due to financial hardships, she immigrated to the U.S. looking for better opportunities for herself and her family back in Ecuador. She worked several low-paying jobs to make ends meet. A few years later, she gave birth to her best decision on December 17, 2004. Me! As a child, I saw my mom's relentless drive and ambition in full force. In 2016, my mom lost her long-term job where she had achieved a high-level position and had to start from scratch once again. Instead of dwelling on this setback, my mom immediately began looking for solutions. Seeing my mom work as hard as she did while I was growing up led me to develop a similar work ethic. At school, I became invested in every assignment and held high standards for the work I presented to my teachers. For instance, in 8th grade, my class was presenting PowerPoints and I was the only student who color-coded and incorporated animated transitions into my project. I was known as a hard worker amongst my teachers and friends at the age of 11. In 6th grade, my English teacher Ms.Bohns went as far as to tell me that she would vote for me if I ran for President. My mom encouraged me to join programs that could offer the help she couldn't. This led to me join a program called STEP at Vaughn College that offered tutoring, regents prep, SAT prep, and more.
For the next three years, the STEP program would become my second home. Here, I discovered my passion for math as I learned to love its formulas and rigorous questions. I was proud that I could recite the quadratic and distance formula by heart. I had professors who held high expectations of me and pushed my limits. I was told I could do anything with enough effort and I still have that mentality to this day. To illustrate, when my Math and English professors offered me the opportunity to take college Precalculus, Calculus, and English I, I immediately agreed. They believed I could handle the workload of college classes in 9th grade which led me to believe in myself too. The STEP program gave me one of the most fulfilling and supportive environments I've ever been in. All of the students there were minorities which meant that all of my friends had similar backgrounds and experienced similar struggles. This was comforting and provided a sense of unity against the hardships we faced, especially at school.
In middle school, the situations I've had to endure have shaped my character and regard for other people. I was often the brunt of negative stereotypical comments due to being Hispanic. Many people were uneducated and made offensive remarks without any repercussions. Students would make jokes saying that I had "crossed the border" and was lazy. I distinctly remember getting a good grade on a math test and a student that sat across from me said, "Wow! That's a really good grade. I wouldn't have expected that from you". I asked them, "Why?", feeling insulted as I was a good student and grades like these were not new to me. They responded by saying, "Well, you're Hispanic and Hispanics are dumb. Especially the girls.". I was shocked and didn't understand the prejudice behind their words. I shrugged it off and replied, "Well, I'm not". That day I learned, as Michelle Obama said, "If you don't get out there and define yourself, you'll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.". I'd like to mention that I am not sharing my experience to receive pity or to complain. These encounters became a source to push me whenever I was unmotivated and have made me stronger. As a senior now, situations like these have taught me how words can affect a person and have made me empathetic and mindful of what I say. This has made it easy for me to work with people from all walks of life and is a trait of which I am extremely proud. I've learned that the people we surround ourselves with are the most important as they are the ones who change our lives, whether it's for better or for worse.
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she would vote for me if I ran for President.
Avoid this type of overstatement. You are not running for political office. Offer relevant experiences as it relates to the application.
the STEP program
Refer to the program as an object since you mention it was home to you. The word program makes it theoretical in representation.
quote=hsstudent]I'd like to mention that I am not sharing my experience to receive pity or to complain.[/quote]
Whatever made you think your narration would be percieved as such. Not once did the essay take any sort of groveling tone. Remove this reference because it does not apply.
Write a stronger stand alone final paragraph. Define who you are in totality because of these collective experiences. If you can sum up your character in one word and summarize why , then your conclusion will be better.