June 16, 2013

Maine college-bound essayists hope to leave a mark

Dozens of graduates answered our call to share the essays they wrote in applying to colleges. Here are our three favorites.

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AUTHOR SONIA DIAZ of Scarborough graduated from Scarborough High School. She will attend Colby-Sawyer College.

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to have a different lifestyle? Have you ever wanted to travel hundreds, or even thousands, of miles to see things out of the ordinary? People crave new experiences, but they don't fully understand the risks of leaving everything they have to begin a new life. As a Mexican immigrant, my family left behind our country and our culture to pursue the American dream. Despite the challenges of becoming a Mexican-American citizen, the rewards are even greater than I expected.

When I was 11, my family decided to travel to the United States. My father only wanted to go on a vacation and wasn't planning to stay. After a few weeks, my mother and I told him that we wanted to begin a new life here. It wasn't what he wanted, but he did it for us. After four years living in the United States, my father has become open to the idea of buying a house and staying indefinitely. It is difficult for my parents to adapt because of the language barrier; not many people speak Spanish in Scarborough. I had a short amount of time to learn a new language and adapt to this "dream country," the United States of America-a beautiful, peaceful place to live.

Growing up in a different country and then moving the year before I became a teenager has changed my life completely. At only 12 years old, I had to have the willpower to live far away from my two older brothers and struggle with the new language. I had to translate everything for my parents. I felt like I had all the responsibility on my shoulders, but I had to be strong and accept the challenge. In most cases, parents protect their children and do everything for them. In my case it was different.

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to grow up so fast and travel to every part of the globe. My parents would take me to different states in Mexico to learn about their history and see the different cultures. I was eager to know more about the Mexican history that I was learning in school. I never got bored because I knew one day I would go there and see the beautiful places with my own eyes.

I never realized how expensive it was to travel; I was just a little girl who felt extremely happy to embark on an adventure. Now I see how my parents had to work so hard to get paid a decent wage. It was not easy for them because, as the oldest in their families, they were expected to help raise their siblings. My father has 12 siblings, and my mother has 15. My parents contributed to their households by helping to pay the bills and buying food for their families with their own money. Their lives were difficult, but they somehow survived.

There are a lot of young people my age who don't appreciate what they have. They might consider themselves underprivileged just because they don't have an iPhone or they don't get every single thing they wanted for Christmas. I know the value of hard work and the pride that comes with it; I have earned good grades my entire life, I have supported my brothers and parents, I have been responsible for the chores at home, and I have participated in my community. In short, I have led an active, involved life.

I could not ask for better parents. I am very blessed to have such an amazing family who cares for my well-being. I want to show them that all their sacrifices have paid off by getting a college degree and making the right choices. It has been hard for them because they left everything they had in Mexico to let their daughter have a better life, become bilingual, be a resident of the United States and-after five years-become a citizen.

I am just myself, a simple teenager eager to reach my own potential, to be someone who is remembered for great achievements. I want to be the one who travels around the world, not simply to travel, but to save lives. I want to leave my mark on this world by making a difference.

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