what shaped your personal life and aspirations?
PROMPT: We are interested in learning more about you and the context in which you have grown up, formed your aspirations, and accomplished your academic successes. Please describe the factors and challenges that have most shaped your personal life and aspirations. How have these factors helped you to grow?
Through the window, I heard the low rumble of an unfamiliar engine become the background noise to beeps of a car backing up. Footsteps followed sounds of a car door opening, and a pop of the trunk confirmed my suspicions. I knew what the pattern of sounds meant and quickly jumped into action, rushing down the stairs looking at a sight I was all too familiar with.
My mother was handing a suitcase in each of the taxi driver's hands, and my father was holding a roll of tape, pulling another meter to secure one of the boxes he was packing. "You're never home anymore." Mama must've thought I was a broken record, saying the same thing every time they had to go. I knew why they had to leave, but it never made it easier. She kissed us goodbye, told us to behave. My father slipped five hundred pesos into my oldest sister's hand in case of an emergency, and they hopped in the offending taxi to catch their plane. My parents traveled often for business and I knew those 'business trips' weren't at all glamorous. They were back-breaking and tedious. They bought clothing in the crowded, hot, polluted commercial trading district of Divisoria, Manila, and sold them here in Cebu. The boxes they brought contained damaged, unsellable clothes that had to be returned. That was all they did. That's how they sent four kids to school, how they fed a family of six, how they paid for rent. I should've been used to it. They've been doing this since before I was born. In totality, they'd always be out of town 2 weeks out of every month, clumped up into 6 months of the entire year.
To say that my parents' absence didn't affect me would be a lie, but I harbor no resentment, only understanding. Growing up, they managed to give us children a pleasant yet unspoiled life, raised on pillars of practicality. They've instilled in us the unimpeachable truth that all they do, in presence or absence, is done in love. Every school recital they missed, every competition they didn't cheer at, every sweet little reunion at the arrivals that would always be cut days later at the departure area, I accepted the circumstances gracefully. Their absence nudged us in a bittersweet direction. My oldest sister signed our report cards, my other sister learned to cook, I took care of whoever got sick and tutored my younger brother despite his hopeless math skills, and we all stepped up for each other. I grew to be precocious and had a no-nonsense, go-getter attitude. Never wanting to stress my parents about us while they were away, I started to be wildly independent. My academic pursuits used to be a distraction from my quiet house but bloomed into a genuine desire to learn about everything and anything. In school and at home, I was drawn to learning about anatomy and medicine, as I was my siblings' designated nurse. I told myself early on that I'd one day find my passion and work so my parents wouldn't have to anymore. I would spend my life trying to return twofold their diligence and love.
It wasn't everyday one's underaged daughter asks if she can move to another country, and naturally, my parents were wary. From the day I brought it up to the day they reluctantly agreed, I could only daydream the possibilities of my future and the future I wanted to give them. All the stars pointed to the Land of Opportunity. This wasn't some juvenile, teenage desire to run away. I was born an American, and that never really meant anything to me until I realized I was a citizen of a whole other country that I'd never truly seen. People immigrated to chase better lives for themselves and their loved ones, and that's what I wanted to do.
When I told them I wanted to be a doctor, all they probably heard was "I need to go through four more years of expensive medical schooling after college" because they weren't ecstatic like I thought every stereotypical Asian parent would be. They were proud that I'd found a genuine interest in medicine but felt inadequate that our financial limitations could set me back. I decided my educational expenses would be my cross to bear, not theirs. My determination knows no bounds. My parents didn't have a passion for selling off-brand clothing. They didn't choose this line of work because it gave meaning to their existence. It was merely a way to make ends meet, and they're husting through it. Their passion lies in raising kind, determined, and responsible children, and that's what they've done.
I am my parents' passion, and they are mine.
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I was a bit confused by your sudden claim of "I was born American" in paragraph 4. Since you never indicated anything in the earlier paragraphs to showcase a dual citizenship on your part, nor did you touch on any confusion regarding culture, family relationships, and other things in the essay that would show a "foreign" bloodline in you that would want to pursue or understand by studying abroad, that paragraph created confusion in an otherwise solid presentation. I believe you should rework the essay to make some reference to your being an American in a foreign land early in the essay. Build it up, don't just hit the reader in the face with it, without any explanation or foundation. Maybe make that the central theme of the essay instead? Work the story to show how the American side of you benefited and suffered simultaneously because of that situation? I am confident a rewrite angled to deal with that aspect of your background would make for an interesting and informative read.