College Essay: 6,373 miles to the ‘land of dreams’

Abdulmalik Daud, St. Paul Harding High School

The people on the plane reminded me of the soccer players and cartoon characters I saw on television. It was like another world. Not many people looked like me.

I know if I take a chance at every opportunity that presents itself, it will lead me to where I want to be—the top.

Outside, the fluffy clouds, the green land and the blue ocean made me feel like I was flying over paradise. I quickly realized there is more in the world than I ever dreamed.

I flew to the United States in May 2012 from my hometown of Lagos, Nigeria. I was 11 years old. Lagos isn’t as educated as the rest of the world. Most people never finish high school, and those who do find there are no jobs to reward them for their schooling.

As a child in Lagos, my school focused on math. I was not interested, though.

That began to change soon after our massive plane landed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The day before my first day of school, a Sunday, I was happy and excited to start my new education. Day one was warm, the sun shining through the sky and the wind blowing. I climbed onto the school bus and began the ride of my new life.

I was shocked, surprised and happy when I had learned we were going to the U.S. Over time, this new society has changed my view of the world.

I’ve learned we went to the moon, learned there is a solar system, and learned that atoms, molecules, particles, bacteria and viruses exist. I discovered the periodic table and was taught how physics, trigonometry and equations are used to build complex buildings and formulas that solve the most complex things in today’s world. Most important, I learned here, in the United States, if you get an education you can be anything you want to be. You can get a job to provide for your family. I know if I take a chance at every opportunity that presents itself, it will lead me to where I want to be—the top.

It took 6,373 miles across the world to arrive in my new land of dreams. The U.S showed me a world bigger than me, my family and my hometown. I am 16 years old now, and my curiosity continues to grow and grow. I embrace U.S. culture while still appreciating my Nigerian roots. I look back at Lagos and appreciate the modern ways of the U.S. and everything it has to offer. Embracing my new society helps me focus on the big picture. My curiosity is the fuel to keep my dreams going.

I am independent, ambitious, tough, smart, eager and willing. I am ready to earn a degree in engineering and build structures that last a lifetime. Most important, I will provide for my family in a way that would have been impossible in Nigeria.

The land of opportunities has shown me that growth creates success, and growth comes from hard work. I am ready to lead my family and my generation.