Hey, my name is Alonso Velarde and I am currently applying for the North Caolina School of Science and Mathematics. NCSSM is a school that offers much more advanced courses and greater opportunities than my current school. Here are some essay questions they ask followed by my responses. Any kind of of feedback and corrections would be appreciated. Please include any sentences I should change for better clarity, lenght? (too long, or too short), incorrect grammar use, punctuation, etc.
1. Have you had any adversity in life that you may want to explain? (limit of 8000 characters)
Perhaps the toughest period of time in my life was the drastic change of moving from Peru to the United States at the age of 9. I was born in Lima, the capital. Lima is a very busy and fast-paced city with a population of about 8 million. Having lived there for 9 years of my life I had already established various strong friendships and I was fully accostumed to our delicious foods and style of living. When my parents told me of the news, I was extremely shocked. My mother had received a letter from a program called VIF. VIF is a program that brings teachers to the Unites States from all around the world. My mom heard about this program while reading the newspaper on one ordinary afternoon and decided to apply. She thought she had a very good chance of getting the job position because she had numerous years of teaching experience and a most helpful talent, she was bilingual. A couple of months after the application was sent my mom received this letter back, and what we onced thought of as a dream, became a reality in a matter of seconds. We had a set date in which we were to leave our city, our country, our people. I was quickly informed of the news and at first I didn't know how to take it. I was only 9 years old, I spoke little English, and I was being asked to leave a whole lifestyle behind me and start all over again. The mere thought of having to go to a new school, make new friends, and learn a whole new different language was more than overwhelming to me. My mother informed me that my new home would be called Sanford. On the following days I spent hours laying on my bed imagining what this new city, Sanford, would be like. Would it be like New York, with giant skyscrapers and flashing signs on stores? Would it be anything like Lima? This was a time of complete confusion, I couldn't quite grasp the concept that I was soon to leave my country.
As some time passed I realized that something had to be done about this. I couldn't just sit there and cry every night in hopes of time stopping and perhaps waking up from an awful nightmare. Slowly, I started informing my friends of the sad news. Friendships of 5 or more years were soon to be separated. I wouldn't call the friendships broken because I obviously had plans of keeping in touch with them as they were the only friends I had at the time. During the last few months, I remember really worrying about the language barrier. I had no clue how I was supposed to learn a new language so quickly, it all just seemed so complicated, I was scared.
Eventually the time came for my mom to depart from Lima. She was required to leave about a month before my father and I because she had to take a few preparation classes. During this month I remember her calling me and describing how beautiful North Carolina was. She always emphasized how green it was, she would tell me about the vast quantity of trees, bushes, and grass all around. She told me there were very beautiful houses and that people seemed extremely friendly. Everytime I talked to her I felt reassured that I was going to the right place. This made me feel splendid because I soon grew excited about my soon to be home. That month flew by incredibly fast and before I knew it, I was giving one last hug to my relatives in the Jorge Chavez International Airport. My flight left Lima and 6 hours later arrive in Miami, Florida. My father's brother came and picked us up and showed us around the city. The city was absolutely breath-taking and gorgeous, it was like nothing I had seen before. The pavement on the highways was perfect and I could not hear a single person beeping their horn. The streets were perfectly clean and the air seemed so clean. These huge positive differences soon made me realize that I was going to love this new place. We only stayed with my uncle for 2 or 3 days and then took our flight to North Carolina. After a short one hour flight my father and I arrive at the RDU International Airport. We soon met my mom and she drove us to Saford. It took her about an hour to get to our apartment in Sanford, but by the time we were there I was exhausted so I went straight to bed. As the days went by, she showed me around town and I learned that Sanford wasn't the biggest of cities. However, it did have everything that was needed to fulfill a person's basic needs, restaurants, grocery stores, a movie theater, and schools. On the third day it was time for me to go to school. I was very nervous as to how I was supposed to communicate with people and understand my classes. I soon found out that this was going to be another adversity. Now that I had overcome the first one of leaving Peru, I had to go through tough times to be able to communicate with people. I hated the fact that I wasn't able to express myself or participate in class. I could not really make friends with the exception of a few hispanics that speaked Spanish. During this period of time, I would often tell my mom that I wanted to go back to Peru. I hated the fact that I couldn't really make friends, I couldn't participate in class, and I couldn't even talk! I really respect and appreciate my mother encouraging me through these tough times. She would tell me that it would soon be over, that soon I would be able to speak this new language like I spoke Spanish. At first, this seemed impossible, but with the passing of about 6 months I found myself speaking enough English to make friends and to start participating in class. This encouraged me even more and after about 1 year I was completely fluent in the language.
Once I started speaking English everything became easier. I had friends who I could hang out with now, my teachers finally started seeing my intellectual capabilities, and I didn't feel like I was limited to a circle of friends anymore. Regular classes started to become way too undemanding for me and that's why in the 5th grade, only a year and a half after my arrival to the USA, I was enrolled in the AIG program. The AIG program allowed me to take more challenging courses throughout my middle school career and so far, my high school career. However, now I feel that not even the AIG classes are demanding enough for me and that's why I'm seeking a greater challenge such as NCSSM.
Something valuable that I have learned by going through these adversities is that any goal, no matter how impossible it seems, can be accomplished if one is willing to work hard to achieve it. Opportunities like coming to the USA are not offered to everyone in a country like Peru. This is why I am so thankful for my life. I greatly respect my parents for having enough courage to make such a tough decision. This decision has opened up so many doors for me, it has guaranteed me of a bright future if I am willing to take advantage of the opportunities that are offered to me. I consider the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics the best opportunity to succeed that I have been offered yet and that is why I'm planning to take full advantage of it. I once read a quote that said, "The only people that can really find out how far they can go, are the people that risk going too far." I find this quote to be very true and applicable to my situation. I feel that I am ready for the greater challenge and that the only way to really see how far my potential can go is by putting something like NCSSM in my educational career.
2. Describe your personality and what makes you unique. (8000 character limit)
I believe that I have a very appealing and unique personality. I think the best word to describe my personality is nonconforming. This of course doesn't mean that I don't like to follow directions or that I'm constantly disagreeing or argueing with my teacher. It simply means that I often aim for more than what is required, I'm not conformed with just doing what is enough. I often find myself striving to make logical sense of everything, and I love to analyze, theorize, and understand everything that I am taught. I am not the kind of person that is happy with just knowing the basics of a certain topic being studied. I don't feel that I know enough about a subject until I go very in depth about it. I would say that I have an unusual but yet interesting ability to understand complex and in-depth concepts when there is no kind of pressure or hurry. I am a person that is able to adapt to any environemnt with great dexterity but my best performance can truly be seen in a calm and quiet scenario. Some people also describe me as unpredictable, this might be supported by my constant interest in new things. For example, not too long ago we studied Genetics and DNA in my Biology class. This was a concept that I didn't have much knowledge about. After a few days of interesting talk about the structure of DNA, and the predicted advancements of technology in DNA Engineering, I became very indulged in this concept and I wanted to learn more about it. After I finished the required assignments from the teacher, I would often get on the Internet and research this topic to find out more information. I believe that this ongoing drive to comprehend things and to not conform to the average is perhaps one of the qualities that has really helped me stand out throughout my whole educational career.
My behavior in the classroom or in any instructional environment could be classified as introverted. I prefer the teacher to allow students time to think about topics being studied in class and I work best indenpendently. However, I have no problem working in groups or taking part in discussions in the classroom. I learn most efficiently by reading and listening, but I do consider visuals a very helpful complimentary tool. Frequently, a problem associated with an introvertive personality in the classroom is the lack of social interaction, or the fear of speaking in public. I must say that I am not a very talkative person as I am more focused on listening to what the teacher is saying. I don't feel that it is of much class or respect to disrupt teachers while they instruct, it serves no purpose but to make the teacher's job burdensome and it distracts the rest of the alumni in the classroom. Luckily, since the beginning of my middle school education, I've had teachers that have encouraged me and my classmates to do various presentations in front of the class. Throughout many years of presenting in front of the classroom, I have completely overcame this "fear" of speaking in front of people. Such is the case, that in the 8th grade I entered an oratorical contest with the theme, "My future is bright because...". I had an exceptional performance in this contest and I ended up winning the classroom level. I went on to the school level in which I also had a strong performance. At the conclusion of the contest I was given a certificate that recognized my participation.
I feel like this one is too short but the again, I don't know. What else could I put in it? Please also note that it isn't required for me to fill up all 8000 characters, that's just a maximum.
3. Extracurricular, Community Service and Volunteer Activities (Both in-school and out-of-school) (500 character limit)
At Southern Lee High School, I am a member of both Key Club and Quiz Bowl, I also participate in two varsity sports, soccer and tennis. Through Key Club, we help out our community by doing activities such as working at the bread basket, a place where we give food to the needy and getting funds for international foundations such as UNICEF. My enrollment in Quiz Bowl helps me become a more cultured person by allowing me to participate in several general knowledge competitions throughout the year.
4. Awards, Certificates, Projects, and Recognitions: (500 character limit)
Awards and recognitions in my middle and high school careers include: "A" Honor Roll awards, an award from Duke University for mathematically and verbally talented students, a better score in mathematics than 99% of students who took the EOG in my school, a certificate of appreciation for participating in the Optimist Club Oratorical Contest, Health/Fitness Award, a certificate of merit in recognition of outstanding achievement in soccer.
5. Leadership Positions and Activities: (500 character limit)
This year I was the JV soccer team captain and a varsity player. As captain of the team I had many responsibilities such as emotionally bringing up the team when we were down, and being a role model for my teammates. Besides being a player and captain I also referee soccer games every weekend. This leadership position has been extremely rewarding because it's helped become a much better decision maker. As a referee, one must make quick and fair decisions at any point during the match.
6. Technology, Computer Experience: (500 character limit)
I have several years of computer/technology experience. In the 7th and 8th grade I took technology and biotechnology respectively. Since the beginning of my high school career I've been enrolled in classes such as Computer Applications I, and Computer Applications II where I've learned to use software such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook, and various desktop publishing programs. I've also studied subjects such as multimedia, internet basics, and HTML.
7.Other Interests, Talents, Hobbies: (500 characters limit)
Some of my other hobbies are playing racquetball, bowling, and weightlifting. I'm also interested in playing instruments. I've been playing the drums for about 4 years and the piano for 1. I'm part of a band that has been together for almost 3 years now and I enjoy playing our music in various cities around NC. In my free time, I also enjoy doing crossword puzzles and taking trivia quizzes. I find both of these activities entertaining because I always fancied doing something productive.
There are 10 questions in the application process but I'm not done with the last 3 yet. I will post them as soon as I complete them. Again, thanks in advance for anyone that helps me out on this.