University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
“Sit still!” my mom shouted at me in Igbo, as she continued to press the scalding flat iron to my scalp. I hung my head, watching as the puddle of tears in my lap grew larger, each additional tear rolling off my chubby ten-year-old cheek, darkening the light wash of my jeans. After taking a moment to recollect myself, I took a deep breath and sat up straight. It’s all going to be worth it, I repeated to myself.
Rewind to a couple of hours prior to this moment, a classmate asked me why “black people’s hair was always so nappy.” Usually, I would ignore remarks like those -- growing up in a 94.8% white community desensitizes you to microaggressions like that -- but that day, for whatever reason, those words happened to linger in the back of my mind. Immediately after coming home from school that afternoon, I begged my mom to straighten my hair. Ignoring her cries of “but your natural hair is so beautiful!” I continued to plead until, finally, she gave in. To many, that comment from my classmate may have seemed harmless, but this interaction, coupled with countless others, had a drastic impact on my perception of identity.
My desire to conform grew stronger than ever, as did the burning feelings of discontent towards my heritage. I...
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