Mr. Fishy

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.


“Does Mr. Fishy go up, up, up or down, down, down?”

I ask my class as I lay a plastic toy fish on top of the water.

“Up, up, up!” a little boy named John exclaims.

“That’s right! Mr. Fishy goes up, up, up like we do!” I tell my class.

A plastic toy fish is brought to life as Mr. Fishy at the magical swim school of Aqua-Tots. His ultimate purpose is to show young children how to float. Moreover, he’s an emblem of confidence; he has brought courage and meaning to hundreds of kids, including myself.

My parents always did a good job of not letting their financial struggles cloud my childhood. I grew up believing that yard sales were a treasure hunt and that coupons were magic. However, as I got older, I began to pick up on hints that I overlooked when I was younger. I’d walk in on my parents’ whispers in the kitchen as they scrambled to switch from Cantonese to Vietnamese, a language they use to discuss adult secrets. Although they never pressured me to get a job in high school, I still wanted to contribute; I became a water safety instructor at Aqua-Tots in January 2018.

I met John on my first day of teaching. He was nowhere near as eager as he is now. His eyebrows furrowed in fear and his eyes scrambled to find an exit as he...

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