The Hill

What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?

The hill is too tall. That’s what my friends said. That’s what everybody said. Which is exactly why I tried to climb it.

Every Saturday morning I would begin my workout by biking around Walnut, making sure to stop by Norman Boulevard, a street with an impossibly steep slope. There I would pedal up the street until my legs gave out, most of the time not even making it halfway up before exhaustion overcame me. And yet, every Saturday, I’d return again.

There is a natural tendency for people to set goals that remain within grasp and avoid what’s unrealistic. However, I believe that chasing the improbable is still a worthwhile endeavor. It’s from taking on an unlikely goal and fending off the doubt, adversity, and potential for failure that keeps me from backing down. I relish doubt from others as well as the doubt that I sometimes give myself, for there is no greater feeling than to go against conventional wisdom and prove expectations wrong. This mindset must have led to undertakings as spectacular as Elon Musk’s founding of SpaceX, and for me, as simple as neighborhood challenges like my ascent of Norman Boulevard.

My aspirations go far beyond riding a bike up a hill, and my climb on Norman Boulevard represents the process I...

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