College Essay: Honoring a father and his legacy

Zong Xiong
Zong Xiong, Champlin Park High School

I hate the smell of hospitals. The pungent, sterile odor of the place where some people go to die takes me back to the year I turned 7 years old.

My greatest inspiration comes from my father, who was well-respected and dearly missed by his friends and family.

At this point, I had already been familiar with the hallways, the room where my dad lay in a coma for a month because of a stroke, and our routine: I get to touch his head, talk to him and plead for him to get better so he can take me to the park.

But, this day was different. I had just arrived to the hospital with other family members when I noticed my sister, clearly distressed, coming toward us. Her sobs told me something was really wrong.

“My father just died,” she let out.

Life afterward became dreadful. The world I once knew became dark and unfair. The man who brought so much joy and laughter in my life was suddenly taken away. In school, I noticed my perspective was different from my classmates. I started to feel like an outcast. While the other children smiled at their father, I cried for mine.

On top of that, financial issues emerged, which drowned my mom in debt. This led to the foreclosure of my family’s home. We frantically scouted the area and found an affordable rental in the same school district, but my mother still struggled. Rent. Six growing kids. Utilities. The bills mounted.

No family plans for a sudden death of a loved one, nor is a family ready to lose their house on a sudden notice. More importantly, a family is never prepared to face a new reality. But somehow, these adversities made us stronger.

Being the youngest, I am grateful to my older siblings for the choices they made in their lives. They allowed me to live life peacefully like a newborn child and focus on school. Before entering high school, I observed how my siblings were able to maintain a high GPA and graduate with honors even though they had to stress about work and school. This inspired me to do my best because if they are able to succeed, I can too.

My greatest inspiration comes from my father, who was well-respected and dearly missed by his friends and family. He was labeled educated even though he never received formal schooling. He would always instruct me and my siblings to focus on our studies and avoid playing around—mainly advising us all to grasp every opportunity before it was too late. The way he positively influenced so many people during his lifetime is why I look up to him and want to be like him.

I took all the rigorous courses in high school. I can still remember scanning through my textbook on the night of May 4, 2016, the day before my AP history exam. I decided to challenge myself more by enrolling into PSEO my junior year. Additionally, I joined College Possible, which gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge on education beyond high school. This has helped me prepare for college and my dream of going to medical school.

I can visualize the day I will stretch out my arm to receive my diploma to honor my dad and his legacy.