Tags: Yale, first generation, low income
Institution: Yale University
High School Experience
I could describe my tenure in high school with one word: growth. There were some very awkward times and I had some of the best moments of my life during those four years, but it was always a growing experience. What I enjoyed the most during my time in high school was meeting, with great diversity, a variety of individuals who shared my interests in science and had a passion for learning - teachers included. I owe a lot of the positive qualities I have now to these people, most of which I came to know for the entirety of my high school tenure. I didn't like, however, the rigidity of required courses; I like to challenge myself, and I feel that courses such as Economics, Civics, and Oral Communications (as they were taught) did not fill me with the same vigor as the environments in other classrooms did. A lot of people are trying to get by, settling for C averages, etc., and God love 'em, that's their choice - I just didn't feel that I was growing in those classes. I feel like I've got Restless Leg Syndrome but for my mind - I need constant stimulation.
My academic interests throughout high school spiraled in all directions with regards to science - political science, psychology/sociology, chemistry, biology, physics, what have you. I was pretty set on becoming a physician or engineer in either biochemistry or biomedicine, so I took the highest difficulty classes I could in most of those areas, with a heavy AP concentration in chemistry, biology, and physics. As is expected, I took AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics, and all of their prerequisite Pre-AP courses. I also took some medical courses.
AP Spanish Language and Culture: 5
AP World History: 4
AP Biology: 4
AP Chemistry: 4
AP English Language and Composition: 4
AP Environmental Science: 5
AP Spanish Literature and Culture: unknown
AP Statistics: unknown
AP Physics I: unknown
AP Calculus BC: unknown
AP United States Government and Politics: unknown
AP English Literature and Composition: unknown
ACT composite: 33
ACT superscore: 34
Rogers High School chapter of LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), formerly the Rogers High School chapter of ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals For America) - I was a member (17-18), then a Junior Representative in the club's executive group (18-19), then I became the club's president (19-20), so from 2017 to 2020.
Rogers High School Quiz Bowl: I was a member from 2016 to 2019, then I became Vice-Captain for the 2019-2020 school year, so 2016-2020.
YDAR (Young Democrats of Arkansas): I was a member of my high school's chapter from 2017-2020. I was elected as the 3rd District Vice Chair of the Environmental Caucus and the 3rd District Vice Chair of the Hispanic Caucus in the 2019 Young Democrats Statewide Convention.
Rogers High School chapter of the National Honors Society: I was a member from 2018 to 2020, and never served in a leadership position for this club.
Rogers High School chapter of Link Crew: I was a member from 2018-2019, then I was selected into the club's leadership committee for the 2019-2020 school year, so from 2018 to 2020.
Rogers High School chapter of the Spanish National Honors Society: I was the club's communications director from 2017-2018, then I was a member from 2018-2020.
Rogers High School's Student Environmental Association and their chapter of Mu Alpha Theta: I joined both as a member for the 2019-2020 school year.
The writers of my letters of recommendation were my AP Spanish Language and Culture teacher and my AP Chemistry teacher. I have very strong professional relationships with them and they were integral to my development as a learner, not just a student. They were so invested in making sure every single student was comfortable, involved, and ready for exam season, to an extent that they were more like friends than teachers to me and a lot of other people. Fine people.
I was involved in the QuestBridge National College Match program, so I wrote a lot of essays to 9 schools (Columbia, Duke, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Williams College, Washington University in St. Louis). Despite that, they all had the central theme of science and growth. In greater detail, I wrote about the exciting potential of scientific research in medicine and biology looking forward, as well as my fascination with engineering. With respect to growth, I wrote about my high school experience in finding diversity in thought and in background - in Arkansas; I also wrote about my own background as a "first-generation just about everything" in America, and how the values in my culture and my family unit influenced my outlook on personal growth.
I always have a difficult time answering the all-important question of my own merits as a college applicant. As simply as I can put it, I'd put it down on my leadership, my hard work, and my honesty. I worked hard and honestly in school and my extracurriculars, just like my parents did for me. My parents would come on hard times and not a lot of things were guaranteed then, but they knew that no one could ever take away what they worked for themselves. Basically, I took that and ran with it; it got my parents through some dark days and I could only hope that I could return a fraction of their sacrifice by doing my own work as virtuously as possible. These days, people have money and, of course, that plays its part in the game of post-secondary education. And the game isn't quite fair for the millions of people like me; I had to make do with what I had - so it became my strong conviction that the REAL payoff of hard work and honesty trumps that of wealth. So... at the risk of rendering the previous soliloquy of an answer obsolete by answering more directly, my strengths as an applicant come from my passion for, my admiration of, and belief in, hard work and honesty.
I'd basically give them that whole schtick in response 9, hahaha. Work hard. Do it honestly. It'll pay off if you have something to work hard and work honestly FOR. As pragmatic and naive as it sounds, I believe that if you are pursuing an objective for the sole purpose of achieving that objective, you're operating yourself incorrectly. In pursuing your goals, you have to focus on "the climb", for lack of a better metaphor - learning, growing, listening, everything that'll make you a better person (or climber, in this example), REGARDLESS OF THE OUTCOME - and not blind yourself with what's on the top, or else you'll fall down. And we're all bound to do it, we're not perfect. If you're a better version of yourself upon falling, you'll have a better idea on how to climb higher next time. But if you're so focused on achieving that objective, to the extent that you forget everything in the middle, you'll never climb any higher.
My parents never completed high school in Mexico, and when they came to the United States and had me and my two sisters, they barely spoke English in the house. Our economic situation was not poor - in student terms, I couldn't exactly afford to take the SAT and ACT every time it was offered. The first time I took it, in fact, was when the school paid for all Juniors to take it in February 2019. There just wasn't enough money to waste it on standardized testing when half of the furniture in the home, half of the pots and pans, three cars, utilities, and mortgage required monthly payments. These travails were recorded on financial documents and some essays/short answers I had submitted to the colleges I applied to, and of course, there was the actual college apps season. My parents felt so helpless when I would ask any questions about it; they just didn't understand, God love 'em. At the risk of sounding curt (sorry again!), there were certainly some special circumstances that affected my college application.
I didn't necessarily "choose" Yale University, per se, I was "Matched" by QuestBridge on a full-ride scholarship, but I did put them on my ranking list because I was enticed by the news of increased funding being put into Yale STEM, and, frankly, name-recognition was a factor. Not a lot of nobodies go to Yale University, it was like a dream for me to even consider it, much less be accepted.