Duke University

My mother was born and raised in Vietnam. My father is a fifth-generation Californian whose family journeyed across Death Valley in the 19th century. My aunts are Taiwanese and Singaporean, and my cousin is Italian.

I was well on my way through...

Columbia University

For as long as I can remember, the concept of currency and the exchange of goods and services has always fascinated me. Growing up, I observed cashiers nonchalantly letting people walk away with goods in exchange for nothing more than a swipe of a...

Stanford University

In the first grade, I told my classmates that one of my favorite foods was rice. One of my friends asked me why, and I responded, “Why not? Doesn’t everyone eat rice daily?”

It took me a while to realize that not everyone has Vietnamese cuisine...

Georgetown University

A little over half a year ago, I refreshed my email for the hundredth time and caught my breath when I finally found what I was looking for. My heart pounded as I scanned the list of students who had been accepted into my school’s “We The People”...

Georgetown University

My mother was born and raised in Vietnam. My father is a fifth-generation Californian whose family journeyed across Death Valley in the 19th century. My aunts are Taiwanese and Singaporean, and my cousin is Italian. With this mixed background, I...

University of Southern California

Beep. Beep. I opened my eyes, turned my head to the right, and saw the spiky graph on the little monitor that told me someone was alive. I looked at my body and saw the wires stuck to it, which informed me that the beeping heartbeat was mine.

I...

University of California - Los Angeles

A smile spread on my face even before my feet touched the ground as I landed my flip and saluted the judge. I had just finished competing at the last meet of my first gymnastics season with Irvington High School, and my routines had all gone well....

University of California - Los Angeles

Of all the people I’ve met in my lifetime, three in particular have overwhelmingly influenced who I am and who I want to be.

At 4 years old, I found myself in Vietnam, racing a motorcycle with my mischievous cousins through chaotic streets against...

Brandeis University

Since my childhood, I have been disturbed by inequality and injustice in the world. I felt like a solitary beacon of humanitarianism upon a coast of apathy and egoism. The idea of college life, then, was unnerving to me; I imagined attending a...

Rutgers University

My father used to call me Betsy Ross. Before anyone was up, I would go downstairs and pull my quilt out from under the couch. I’d thread my needle with string, and by that time, quite regularly, my father would come to me on the couch and swiftly...

McGill University

For three days, after a heavy equatorial rain, the main road to my village remained impassable. This implied that some families had to subsist without their normal meals, since their breadwinners could not work. Transportation of goods using...

Duke University

Quiet as thieves, Diego and I slipped unnoticed from the boisterous dining room full of clinking glasses and roaring parents into the warm Guatemalan night. It was the middle of the dry season but the air was heavy with the smell of sulfur....

George Mason University

My uncle, a father of two who works as a waiter at a Marriott hotel in Fairfax Virginia, had his identity stolen in late 2014 by someone in New York City. For the most part, our everyday lives are a series of passing decisions; in an ever-evolving...

Boston College

As in Harry Potter, where the wand chooses the wizard, the trumpet chose me—although, at the time, I thought I was choosing the trumpet. Four wind musicians stood before me in my elementary school’s auditorium. Each one played an excerpt...

University of Southern California

I do not fit the stereotypical image of a cheerleader, the status-obsessed glamour girls of teen movies and the public consciousness. I don’t drink, smoke, or go to parties. I prefer to spend Friday nights at home watching war movies like Fury and...

Harvard University

There he is, clad in his “World’s Biggest Fish Fry” baseball cap, neon orange diabetic footsoles, and multicolored top hat à la Dr. Seuss. Four hundred and twenty pounds, bound to his high-backed leather armchair (driven with tender care all the...

University of Central Florida

As my family has traveled, a reproduction of one artwork has traveled with us: The Creation of Adam by the Italian Renaissance painter Michelangelo. The composition depicts the Biblical anecdote of God breathing life into man, who was created to...