[T]here are many decisions that I am thankful for that have molded me to become the person I am now. During the summer of my sophomore year in high school, I took an American Sign Language class at my community college despite already completing two years of Spanish. I was unaware that the casual interest in this language would ignite the passion for my career. As I learned about the deaf community, I found a desire to help people who are physically impaired.
I attended a mission trip to the Tenderloin district in San Francisco, one of the most dangerous places in California. As I talked to the homeless people there, I realized that they were just appreciative to have someone listen to them. These people wanted someone who would hear their opinions, to know their voice mattered. All these decisions led to experiences that have encouraged me to pursue the major Communication Disorders, in which I can have a career as a speech-language pathologist, serving others who are physically incapable.
In the first eight years of my life, I lived in a very Asian American populated community and was ignorant to the fact that I could be treated differently because of my ethnicity. My family moved away, however, to Vail, Colorado, a ski resort town filled with many wealthy Caucasian people. It was a tremendous culture shock for me to move to a state in which there was less than 3% of Asian Americans total. The only other Asians I met in my city were either adopted or people who recently came to America.
I struggled with making friends with people in my school because I did not have anything in common with them. I was bullied at my local jazz class because the shapes of my eyes and my lips. I was embarrassed to wear my hair in a ponytail because my face would be exposed to others. Even when we moved from Colorado to California, I still continued to struggle with my identity as an Asian American. People would think I was only excelling in my classes because of my ethnicity instead of my work ethic. I tried to inform them that I succeeded because of the hours I spent studying and investing my time in my studies. Getting A’s in school did not come naturally to me because of my ethnicity. To avoid being bullied, I even attempted to fail some of my tests.
If I graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders, I will prove that it was because of my hard work and dedication to pursue my passion that allowed me to receive that diploma. It was not because I’m Asian. It was not because of the salary. It was because of a passion that was stirred in me in my sophomore year. It was because of a love for people.
We are proud to announce Rachel Lillian Wong is one of the current DiversityJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘star’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.