Change. We must all learn to deal with it. But for me, changing schools three times in four years has been my greatest challenge. From my first move to Arizona at age six, to my most recent move to Texas at age thirteen, change has been a constant. But the transition from parochial school to public, and back again to private has changed me the most.
I spent kindergarten through seventh grade in a small, Catholic school in the Phoenix area. When we moved to a North Texas suburb where parochial schools are few, my parents enrolled me in the district’s mammoth, public middle school. I made the necessary adjustments and thrived: making new friends, earning a starting spot on the basketball and volleyball teams, and striving for straight A’s in honors and advanced classes. I befriended my teachers, basked in their encouragement and love, and savored the unique hairstyles and expressions of individuality in each student’s dress and hairstyle.
Oh, the trends a girl can learn outside of plaid skirts and knee socks!
But as I approached high school, I also learned that sometimes with diversity comes risk. In eighth grade I started to practice and play summer basketball with the nearby varsity high school team. After a series of threatening events, my parents became concerned for my safety. So before my ninth-grade year my parents reprioritized, pulled us out of public school, and put my brothers and me back in a private, more protected environment.
In this smaller, Christian, college-prep school, I have not only experienced great humility, struggling with hours of homework and legions of tests, but my religious beliefs have been challenged, broadened and strengthened. I feel I am better prepared for the next phase of change in my life: choosing a college.
I am blessed to have been identified as a top-ranked basketball player and have received offers to play for and attend many of the country’s top schools. Therein lies my biggest challenge yet: where to spend my next four years. I feel tested in every way, mainly in the realm of my core beliefs. Do I bow to name recognition and chose the most prestigious program? Do I solely seek a school with national championship potential, putting academic goals second? Or might I find a perfect combination of both?
I believe Stanford University represents the latter, where each student admitted is exceptional in his or her chosen field. I know I will be challenged academically and athletically at this world-renowned institution. I will be encouraged to room and mingle with the entire student population, not just other athletes. The expectations of a Stanford student are fierce, and even my religious views may be tested. But thanks to the change I have experienced, the myriad moves I have made, and the necessary adjustments to different environments and people, I believe I have the confidence as a leader, a learner, and a faithful believer that I will stand strong and stay true to myself.
I feel prepared for this next chapter of life. And it is all thanks to change.
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