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"Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence."
Most people go through life without direction or ambition, and simply just accept their mediocrity. My uncle, Doan L. Phung, is the antithesis to that statement and that is why he is a primary figure from which I draw my inspiration. He, more than any other person, is the most responsible for who I am today via his own philosophy and the power of his example. The inspiration he gives me is derived largely from his life experiences, and through them he has shown me the gravity and true importance of education, perseverance, and humility.
Until recently, I had never fully grasped why education is so important. My uncle was born in the village of Bat Trang, which resides in the poverty-stricken nation of Viet Nam. My uncle was faced with all the hardships that arise with being born into a third-world country, such as getting an education. While an education in the United States is a commodity and is often broken down to an inexpensive and widely available community or vocational form, it is an absolute luxury Viet Nam. Unless a student and his or her family is able to afford an education outright, the only other option was subsidized by the government for only the most intelligent students who qualified through Regional and National exams. The only chance to achieve a better life in Viet Nam is as it is in the United States: to get an education. Education is the key to upward mobility. I had used to take my education for granted by viewing it as a routine burden. I formerly viewed attending school as a forcibly mandated albatross under penalty of law, not an environment I wanted to engage in freely. I was more concerned with being a socialite for fear of social ostracization. Although my fears were not unwarranted, I would give anything to go back and change my priorities. Unfortunately, I cannot change my past. However, I have learned that I can proactively influence my future. I have realized that, although all aspects education cannot always be full of excitement, not all people are lucky enough to have the opportunity of obtaining one.
Understanding there are people in the world who would give anything for an education, and enjoy it as well, makes me feel guilty for dreading school and this understanding allows me to appreciate every day I have the opportunity to be educated. As a result, instead of viewing my education as a burden, I now view it as a desired course of action, imperative in change my future. I now have the initiative, to take schooling seriously and not squander my opportunities of higher education. All of these changes within my own life originate from lessons learned by my uncle.
Although poverty may be a disadvantage at first, it has the potential to inspire; my uncle is a prime representation of the aforementioned. Usually, poverty is a vicious, never ending cycle with the potential to consume generations at a time. Although my uncle was resilient enough to overcome poverty, not all people are as fortuitous, capable, or resolute. However, my uncle was able to persevere. His determination to succeed forced him to make sacrifices that most children never consider at such a young age. While his peers were out having fun, he was inside studying. His diligence and assiduous/studious/scholarly efforts were rewarded/fully paid off when he passed the National exams, and was subsequently chosen to study abroad in the United States.
My uncle's perseverance through poverty has taught me the importance of diligence. I now strive to work hard in all aspects of my life. Concerning everything, from my job to my academics, I now give all my effort to the task at hand. Through his example, I realized that in order to achieve the goals I want in life, I have to be willing to make sacrifices. The first test of my values came recently when I had to make a very conflicting decision. I had to choose between going on vacation with my parents to Mexico, or staying at home and studying for my examinations. I weighed my options, and decided to stay behind. Normally, I would have attempted a compromise and brought my books to Mexico, but deep down I knew that I would end up becoming distracted from my studies. If it were not for my newly found influence, I never would have stayed behind. More importantly, he has inspired me to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor and confront the rigorous coursework that such a goal entails.
My uncle endured the hardships of poverty firsthand, and thereby has immense empathy for those who are suffering from its grasp. As a result, he looks kindly upon the less fortunate, and those who assist them. He has never forgotten where he came from and he and his wife recently established the Vietnamese American Scholarship Fund and donated 3 Million dollars to the cause.
Despite his astounding achievements and humanitarian efforts, he still remains humble. He understands that there are those even more successful than him, he realizes that there is never a true end to one's personal growth and learning, and has taught me to appreciate every opportunity I receive and to seek these opportunities.
I realized through his example that I should attempt to be more like him in these ways, and many more, and have been successfully putting this epiphany in motion in my life. In the past I've been quite arrogant in my own thinking. I was, "The Best" at everything. I realized, that if someone as successful as him was so humble, that those inferior to him, myself included, lack justification for being arrogant of their comparatively uninspiring achievements.
My uncle has opened my eyes and allowed me to understand that there will always be someone who is better, faster, stronger, or more intelligent than myself. Striving to be the best my potential allows, and doing so with an open mind, is my new personal philosophy, accompanied with a healthy dose of newfound philanthropy. Although I have yet to make a contribution as significant, I donate when I am able. However, my donations are not limited to money, but include my time as well. When I am unable to make a monetary contribution, I volunteer Time is valuable and therefore I donate my time by volunteering at a local homeless shelter throughout the holiday seasons of the year. Attributed to the inspiration and influence of my uncle, among important recent paradigm shifts within, I am now aware of the flaws in my ways and the disservice they have caused me. I intend on taking advantage of the bountiful collegiate system that the United States is lucky to host. I now understand the only thing that was holding myself back, from achieving greatness, was I.