Sneakers squeaking on the gymnasium floor, my teammates trudged to their water bottles. As sweat dripped down the back of my neck, I heard a loud whisper. “How old is she anyway?” Someone else hissed, “Ten!” I felt the back of my ears start to get red as I realized they were talking about me. Even though I had come to expect the stares, it still made me uncomfortable. I later felt the same wondering gazes when I walked into my first college class at age eleven. Though my abilities are often questioned, my life story revolves around one core belief: I can change the field of medicine.
Sometimes, it feels like I came out of the womb dreaming of becoming a physician. While my peers were reading novels, I was reading biology textbooks and medical journals and imagining the possibilities in genetic research. Taking courses for my A.A. in General Studies with a Natural Science emphasis only increased my interest in finding cures for inherited diseases. As a delegate to the upcoming Congress of Future Medical Leaders, I look forward to learning more about CRISPR and the repair of infested DNA and mutated human embryos from Nobel Laureates and world-changing researchers, futurists, and technologists. This Congress, which is by nomination only, honors America’s brightest high school students who are likely to become future medical leaders.
People have often doubted my capacity to achieve my academic goals, but I don’t let it bother me. This spring, at the age of 13, I will graduate from Sage Oak High School with a 4.89 GPA. I will simultaneously graduate from Los Angeles Mission College with an Associate’s of Arts and a 3.71 GPA. I set my bar high, and I have the drive and determination that many students lack. Sometimes, my peers call me weird, but I do not let their raised eyebrows stop me from achieving exceptional grades and leadership. My record proves that I have the grit and tenacity needed to excel at UCI as both an undergraduate and medical student. My goal is to graduate with a BS/MD and work alongside other medical researchers in cutting-edge research.
Persistence is a trait I practice in sports, not just academics. This past April, my team SMOED won the most significant competition in the cheer community called Worlds. Because I was the youngest of twenty-two on my competitive cheerleading squad, I could tell that my teammates questioned my ability to handle the pressure and keep pace with them. It took 20-25 hours a week of practice and years of mastering the hardest passes, but I finally proved my worth when the team won gold. Balancing my athletic pursuits with my academic ones wasn’t easy, but it taught me to manage my time and earn the respect of my peers, coaches, and professors.
Integrity is another driving characteristic of my life. Technology like CRISPR is fraught with ethical questions, and the field of medicine demands honesty and compassion. I know that if I want to find long-term solutions to genetic diseases, I must first be fully committed to helping others. For this reason, I regularly tutor students in my community who are struggling in school. I have a clean record at my high school and community college, and I will continue to make choices fitting of a leader who wants to save lives through the research.It has been a few years since that whispered question from my teammate in the gym, and there will always be people who gawk and doubt what I do. My strength, however, comes from within. When I fail, I get back up. When I struggle, I devote more time to practice. When people sneer at my age, I shrug and move on. I focus on a world that I see that others cannot: a future where my time as a medical student at UCI transforms me into a life-saving medical researcher. I will stop only when the dream becomes reality, and this scholarship will help in achieving my goals.