College Essay: Adapting to Change

I am wrapped warmly in my thin, soft, rainbow blanket looking up at my mother and father in a blurry haze. For the next 15 years, that rainbow blanket would be an object of comfort, home and family. When I was young, I never wanted to grow up and become an adult because reality was endless and full of possibilities. I was too afraid to leave the warmth of my home and step into the real world with aspirations of my own. But, the year 2019-20 has shifted my entire view, and I had to adapt to the changes that occurred when growing up.  


The elders always ask me, “Thaum koj loj los koj yuav dhau los ua kws kho mob, puas yog?” This translates to, “When you are older you’re going to become a doctor, right?” 

“Yes,” I quickly reply without thinking, because it is such a common question. For 15 years, I’ve set strict rules to achieve my goals. I had my whole life planned out–until I went to high school.  


Transitioning to high school was a steep, icy hill. There were many obstacles I had to face that reflected my determination. For nine years, I had spent my entire life with the same adults, peers and school, but it was time to step out of my comfort zone.   

“YOU GOT INTO THE MATH AND SCIENCE ACADEMY!!” my mom screamed joyfully, as if she was the one  who had been accepted. However, I was nervous about attending the No. 1 public charter school in Minnesota.  

Regardless, I wanted to play for the volleyball team. I had practiced for weeks to improve my serve. It was toward the end of August and humid outside. My knees were shaking, and my stomach was quivering with fear. My head was dizzy and my throat was dry. As I walked into the building, I felt a rush of cool air overwhelm me. It smelled like new wood; everything was polished. I peeked into the gym and saw girls that were more than 5 feet tall. After half of the tryout, I made new friends. I was excited to play volleyball with them, and I soon got over the feeling of being an outsider. Since the student body population was small, I connected with teachers and students. I even joined clubs. I finally belonged.  


Then March 13, 2020, hit and altered my sense of belonging at school. I was finally happy and comfortable with the high standards of Math and Science Academy, but COVID-19 drastically impacted everyone; it was time to adapt.

I learn online curriculum, practice social distancing and participate in extracurricular activities online. As the oldest of six, I am responsible for myself and the care of the family.  I tend to my 1-year-old sister, Scarlett, and help watch my siblings. I give my rainbow blanket to Scarlett when she’s fussy. Now, my rainbow blanket is part of my family’s memories. I learn to appreciate and grow as a learner and daughter. I understand my parents, grandparents and siblings better than ever before. I know that my passion for helping people and seeing families united and joyful is my vocation. I want to become  a cardiothoracic surgeon to help families through hard times and give them the hope to continue on. We can only adapt to change.  


“Even if the desert becomes cracked, no matter who shakes this world, don’t let go of the hand you’re holding.” This quote is from someone who reminds me to continue making new memories while holding the past, much like my rainbow blanket. This blanket reminds me that when I pursue higher education and start a family, I will always have the strength of my memories that tie me back to who I am.