the interview

Ending high school on a high note, I graduated with a few accolades. I graduated with several tassels and what have you, but what my graduation day symbolized something beyond material things. It symbolized my growth and development. I evolved into a more mature person, realizing all the idiotic things I had done prior. There were so many things I wished I could have changed about my high school career in terms of academic achievement and personal growth, but being where I am now, I would not have it any other way. I love how everything has been thus far because I have noticed that throughout my senior year, I tested myself against temptation. Distraction temped me every which way from going out to parties, getting smoked out by girls (cute ones at that), and sending snapchats and uploading overly edited pictures on Instagram; however, I did not let such things stop me from working harder and more diligently than I have ever worked before. Had it not been for my Harvard interview earlier my senior year, I can sincerely say that without a doubt I would not be in the position I am as I type this post.

Taking a detour from the intent of the post, “my first year of college”, I want to talk more about my interview. I had no intention of attending Harvard, because I knew I had no chance given the amount of competition there was. I applied because all of my friends applied to Ivy League schools with outstanding résumés and backgrounds, blowing mine out of the water. I just wanted to fit in, but at the interview, but I was in for a rude awakening.

An elderly lady sitting in the corner of the Starbucks lobby, looking fairly important with her grande mocha with, probably, two sweet ‘n’ low packets and a half and half, caught my attention. She waved her hand slightly, as if to not draw too much attention from the coffee addicts standing in line in the busy coffee shop. I was fairly nervous in my skinny-dress jeans (if that is even a thing), white converse, black buttoned shirt, and my poor excuse for a black and purple tie. I faced my fears and walked over to her table with a folder containing my IB (International Baccalaureate) thesis. It was the only thing I could show her that exemplified any interest in areas outside of the world of academia; even though it was written in an academic style, its subject matter was far from academic. The subject was Can the Rubik’s Cube be Solved in Under 21 Moves (God’s Number)? I was passionate about the Rubik’s Cube and felt that showing the interviewer my thirty-five page thesis on how the Rubik’s Cube can be solved in under twenty-one moves using extensive structural proofs would impress her. However, as soon as I handed it to her, her reaction set the tone for the rest of the interview. She just gave it a glance and put it in her bag to “read” later. It is most likely sitting in the dump somewhere out there, but she did tell me some things that really opened my eyes.

A few of the things she told me were things of a constructive criticism-ic nature. I had to read between the lines, spend hours upon hours studying and understanding, discuss everything with peers to get a better understanding of the subject at hand, improve my body, mind, and soul and be truly and evidently passionate about something to even get the time of day at the time of admission. Unfortunately, she saw that I had none of those aforementioned qualities. However, hearing from her that I would not stand a chance at admission to Harvard, I really had to rethink everything I had been doing in my life. It was at this time when it truly clicked. The clicked part refers to me turning into a person with a sort of import that passionate people carry. It did not happen over night, but I never felt so crushed yet motivated at the same time. I wanted to prove to not only the interviewer, but also to my best friends who have worked outstandingly harder than I have that I, too, can display a sort of self-discipline and motivation to succeed at anything and everything I put my mind to. I know the things I am referring to are awfully vague, but the details will come later. For now, I will say that I entered my first year (quarter) of college with a new mindset. I knew I had to do something big at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and by committing myself physically and financially, there was more of a motivation to succeed. So much was on the line, but there was one thing that continued to bother me: Berkeley.

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where it all began

From the beginning of college application season to the end of senior year, I had to choose one among a few schools that accepted me. Of the few schools, that were affordable in Southern California, I hastily enrolled at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The reason I use the word hastily is that I didn’t get into any of the schools I truly wanted to attend. As a kid with high expectations in high school, I was incredibly naïve as to how admissions were going to play out. I thought that if I joined every club on campus like Rotary, National Honor Society, and some scholarship organization as well as volunteered at two hospitals that I would be guaranteed acceptance to my top choice schools. The more I look back on my past in high school, the more I realize why I was rejected. I was only but mediocre. I had neither passion nor desire to do something different or worthwhile. I had nothing so compelling on my résumé, let alone my being, that people could say “wow, I wish I did those things!” Unfortunately, I realized this all after I was confronted by an incredibly accoladed Harvard Medical School graduate interviewer that I would surely get rejected from her alma mater. I thought I was good enough, that I was ready to take on the challenge, that I was mature enough. Wrong. Wrong. And more wrong.