Questbridge/ Common App Prompt #1Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
When I was a year old, my family was selected for the Diversity Immigrant Visa program in Sudan. The prospect of obtaining US citizenship thrilled my parents, who were ready to put their lives on hold to provide their children with a good education in America. However, their initial feeling of optimism ended in heartache when they discovered that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came at a price: I was not eligible to receive a green card. Forced to make the hardest decision of their lives, my parents packed their bags and with my sisters, headed to California, leaving me in Sudan under the care my aunt. For four years, my kindhearted aunt raised me as her son in her simple, mud-brick home in the village. Then in early 2003, the inevitable moment finally arrived. Forced to leave the only home and family I ever knew, I traveled to the US with my uncle to join my long lost family.
Following an emotional reunion, I gradually began to adapt to my new life in the suburban community of Davis, California. Because of my family's large size, living in a small apartment building posed some major difficulties. I shared a bedroom with my parents and younger sisters, oftentimes sleeping on the floor so my father could have the bed. As a child, I did not have the luxury of playing with expensive toys or videogames like other children. Instead I took pleasure in simpler things, such as reading books and visiting the supermarket with my mother. My father, who was studying to become an accountant at the time, worked hard every day to make ends meet. I really admired him and always eagerly awaited the moment he would come home from work late at night. Pushing me to do well in school, he not only made sure I completed my homework, but also assigned extra math problems to further strengthen my skills. For that, I am forever grateful.
My parents are fairly religious people, so Islam did play a large role in my childhood. I visited the local mosque on a regular basis to learn about my faith and socialize with other Muslim youth. As a kid, I found the idea of praying five times a day and fasting for a whole month every year completely insufferable. However, as I grew older I came to understand the meaning behind these essential practices and embraced them wholeheartedly. In addition to teaching me the importance of commitment and self-discipline, Islam has been the medium through which I developed humility and self-confidence. For a long time, I withheld my religious identity from others out of fear of how they would react. Then upon reaching high school I made one of best decisions of my life: joining the Muslim Student Association. With the help of older students, I learned to be proud of who I am and came to the realization that trying to be like everyone else is a hopeless endeavor. Despite occasional verbal abuse regarding my race and religion, I am ultimately proud to be an African Muslim.
High school was a difficult time for me, both physically and emotionally. Several of my family members in Sudan unexpectedly passed away within the span of three years. The death of the aunt who raised me left me feeling despondent and bitter. Not only would I never see her again, but I couldn't even attend her funeral. To take my mind off my sorrows, I focused all of my attention on school. I worked harder than ever before because I knew that's what she wanted me to do. I continued to ride my broken bike to school every day, even after being hit by a car. When I had no internet access at home and couldn't do my homework, I went to the nearby public library. At the end of my sophomore year, my father became inundated with accounting work. To help him out, I spent countless hours every day after school sorting through store receipts and completing sales reports. Despite these less-than-ideal circumstances, I maintained focus and persevered.
Some might say that I was born into an unlucky life. However, I would never change a single feature of my upbringing. The obstacles I have faced and the personal hardships I have endured have only made me a stronger, more resilient human being. I look to the future with hope because I know with my determination and drive, I can accomplish anything.