“I came to discover and admire this culture of academic intensity and appreciation that was fostered at UChicago.”
How did you learn about UChicago? When did you first know that UChicago was the right school for you?
The University of Chicago has always been regarded as one of the world's most intellectually rigorous universities; a school that prides itself on teaching you how to think. During my own college application process, I came to discover and admire this culture of academic intensity and appreciation that was fostered at UChicago. The Core, for example, is extensive and ensures the well-rounded liberal arts education of each and every student at the College. I wanted a mixture of this liberal arts education in the setting of a predominantly research-based university, allowing me access to learn and conduct research at the many graduate schools affiliated with UChicago, as well as having the resources of the city of Chicago at my disposal. Learning about UChicago's dedication to research as well as the significance of the Core ultimately cemented my interest in the school and led me to strive for a place there.
Please describe the moment you received your admission to the College. What was your reaction?
It was a Thursday afternoon, and New York was a bit chilly that day. My friends and I were wandering around Union Square, busying ourselves, laughs accompanied by nervous silence. It was while ordering at a food stand that I felt the vibration of my phone in my pocket. I checked to see that it was the notification for the admissions decision. I freaked out, then scurried to the nearest bench in the park. I reassured myself that a rejection was imminent, and that it was okay. I didn't scream or exclaim in joy. My reaction was quiet and that of disbelief. Every sensation or thought afterwards felt surreal, and I needed to be in a warmer place. I remember heading over to a nearby bookstore, where I sat and ate my lunch.
What are you most looking forward to at UChicago? Are there classes, subjects or activities you’re excited to explore?
There are so many academic opportunities at UChicago. To be quite honest, it was a bit overwhelming to have the ability to choose among the vast number of classes offered here. I aim to strengthen my pursuits in STEM related fields while also kindling my love for the arts and humanities. Academically, I look forward to taking more film analysis classes. As a self-professed film junkie, it's refreshing to be able to take a break from binge watching Wes Anderson to join class discussions and closely analyze the subjects that I love. In terms of extracurricular activities, I recently joined a group on campus called Tech Team. This quarter, I'm responsible for automating the matching process for Maroon Tutor Match, a tutoring organization that provides young Hyde Park students with tutors from UChicago. I'm excited to apply my knowledge and interests in computer science, a feat I've never really involved myself in before. Of course, other classes and actives possibly piquing my interests await.
If you could speak directly to the person whose gift supported your scholarship, what would you say?
Privilege is a difficult concept to grasp. I often equated privilege simply as the benefits of one's socioeconomic status, understanding it as a dichotomy of either having privilege or not having it whatsoever. As a first-generation, low-income college student, my financial status often barred me from opportunities and I was forced to find creative outlets that were compatible with my background. I often regarded myself as not being privileged, especially living in a city where there was such a massive, conspicuous gap in socioeconomic status. My journey to college was a difficult one, but it was important in that I came to understand that privilege must be put into perspective, that no matter how strenuous one's circumstances may be, there will inevitably be other individuals battling worse conditions with less opportunities. Regardless of the fact that both my parents tirelessly worked multiple jobs day and night to support me and my older brother, or that, from age 5, I had to help translate government documents sent to my non- English speaking parents, I understand that I have immense privilege to be able to utilize my circumstances to constantly learn and grow. Day after day, I am privileged to live in New York City, to be surrounded by intellectually and racially diverse people, to have attended a prestigious high school, to have the chance to enjoy my life at the start of every morning. Accepting the generous aid from donors like you to be able to attend the University of Chicago as an Odyssey Scholar is another example of the privilege I have—perhaps one of the most life-changing decisions I've personally made. Being able to attend this institution, being able to actually live and breathe on the grounds of this beautiful school, has put into perspective how important it is to sometimes pause and engage in a moment of appreciation for my life. Thank you.