When I was 15 years old I moved from Jamaica to the United States, and there was a drastic change in my standard of living.
In Jamaica, my father was a musician and my mother was a homemaker, and they provided for the family quite comfortably. In Jamaica, we lived in a nice neighborhood, we ate hearty meals, and we didn’t have to constantly worry about making ends meet.
When I moved to America, my parents struggled to find jobs; meanwhile, we were dealing with culture shock. We had to adjust not only to a new lifestyle, and to a new culture, but my parents had to search and search and search for employment.
Throughout this transition my parents were a constant source of strength that I could look to when the challenges seemed too daunting.
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They didn’t panic when they couldn’t find work; instead my parents worked harder to acquire jobs. They were successful in doing so and, both before they found work and after becoming employed, they provided me with food, shelter, clothing, and security. Over the years, I have learned that life is just a long strenuous trail that is filled with unique challenges and setbacks. The only way to succeed on this long strenuous trail is to adapt to the hurdles that life throws at you, and learn from the setbacks.
Every day in life a new challenge emerges; just recently my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. My mother has made so many sacrifices for me, and I just want to help her in the same way that she has helped me. I can recall her taking care of me when I tore my ACL, and working extremely late nights as a nurse’s aide so that I would have food, shelter, and clothing. I wanted more than anything to comfort her, to take care of her as she did me on so many occasions. I may not be able to help my mother now, but by attending college and medical school after that, I will be well on my way to being able to help her, and people just like her.
My desire to study and graduate with a molecular biology and genetics degree in college is not me simply aspiring to be a first-generation college graduate. Nor is it only to further my education or for my own happiness. It is for the joy my parents will feel when they see college acceptance letters, dean’s list notifications, and finally the exuberant joy they will feel as they see me walk across the stage of my college graduation. But my aspirations, my American Dream, doesn’t end there. After graduating from college I want to continue my education in becoming a surgical oncologist, so that one day I can do my part in helping to rid the world of all forms of cancer.
My dream continues when, after I become a surgical oncologist, I am able to support my family financially, especially my parents who have made so many sacrifices for me, but more importantly when I will be able to use my skills to give back to humanity.
I understand that there will be many challenges and obstacles preventing me from attaining my personal American Dream, but that is what life is all about. I am ready to use the tools my parents gave me; I will use the true value of hard work, courage, and the strength to go on in spite of difficult circumstances to make my desire to help my mother, and hopefully the entire world, a reality.
Jordan is a senior at Chapel Hill High School. He is a member of the Blue Ribbon Youth Leadership Institute and plans to attend a four year university next year where he will continue to work towards his goal of helping the world.