On the Road

"Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story." / "Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family."

I took another sip of coffee, contemplating the road ahead. At that point – midnight –the coffee was less for taste than for me to stay awake behind the wheel. My mother dozed in the seat next to me, while my younger brother and sister slept cramped together with our labradoodle in the backseat. It occurred to me that the car was the only thing in life that I had any control over. It was two days after Christmas and we were moving, leaving the comfort of home in Atlanta, Georgia and headed for a new life in New Jersey. I’d never moved before. Speeding along the deserted highway, I realized I was terrified, overwhelmed by a cold and biting numbness. The steady drone of the motor gave me time to reflect.

Much of my life has had to adapt to the needs of others. My fifteen-year-old brother Nick, one of four children in my family, was diagnosed with severe autism when he was three. While people are warmed by stories of adolescents who shower their disabled sibling with love and support, these depictions of altruism offer only a glimpse of the challenges that these siblings face every day. As Nick’s educational and vocational opportunities dwindled in Georgia, my parents looked elsewhere for improved special needs services,...

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