College Essay: Choosing the right path

Gabriel Hearne
Gabriel Hearne, Columbia Heights High School

If I hadn’t moved away from Gary, Indiana, I would be in a juvenile facility or possibly pregnant.

I’m on the path to college and to fulfill my dream of becoming a doctor.

Growing up with my mom and older brother in a small neighborhood known as Tarrytown, where almost everyone was black, those around me were going down the wrong path.

Instead of getting good-paying jobs, they chose to sell drugs, use violence, steal, gangbang, drink and smoke weed. Even at 7 years old, I picked up some of those bad habits. I didn’t care about my education, I started fighting boys and I stayed out late. My mind was set on having devious fun. Compared to my friends though, I wasn’t as bold when it came to being disrespectful or displaying destructive behavior.

Things got worse when my great-grandmother died. Our family struggled to cope.

Months later, my mom made an announcement that made my heart drop.

“I want to start over and we’re moving to Minnesota,” she said, “so we can have a better life.”

I thought about all the people I’d be leaving behind. What about my dad, who lived with his new family? And my little half-brothers? My friends?

Reality hit me when I was giving away my toys, packing clothes, noticing boxes and seeing the moving truck.

My mom had a friend in Minnesota and that’s who we stayed with. The first two years was one of the loneliest times of my life. Everyone welcomed me when I first arrived, but after that, it was difficult to make friends. I felt like an outcast.

Life got better in junior high. I started doing my work and paying attention in school. I talked to my teachers when I needed help, I found the value in schoolwork even though it was challenging, and I also made supportive friends.

My freshman year I signed up for school activities, such as student council and sports. I stayed after for homework help. I also signed up for College Possible, a college prep program for low-income students of color.

I’ve heard from relatives that some young women like me in Gary, Indiana, did end up behind bars and pregnant. I am happy to say I have not experienced either.

My experience from my great-grandma’s death to now has changed dramatically. I went from staying outside as if I didn’t have a home to staying in the house as if I don’t have anywhere to go.

But I know I do have somewhere to go. I’m on the path to college and to fulfill my dream of becoming a doctor.