I have changed both as student and as a person this year by gaining motivation and a different perspective on life after high school as well as discovering what I’m passionate about and the impact I want to have as a person. Going into junior year I knew it was going to be the hardest year with managing my time and stress, as well as preparing for the SATs and completing a one month internship. I knew there was going to be a lot on my plate. I think I started the year off really strong, really motivated and excited to get through the year and be one step closer to college, but after first semester when the SATs became more of a reality and I felt more pressure to figure out what I wanted to do, I think I just lost motivation. I had a slight idea of what I wanted to do with my life from the research papers we wrote in the beginning of second semester. At first it was hard for me to decide on which social justice topic I wanted to choose because I wanted to do something I was really interested in but also something that really related to me. I was considering things like equality, racism, black lives matter, how school district lines affect success but then I started thinking more about identity and what factors into our identity and how we identify. And that’s how I came upon multicultural education. It was in elementary school that I really started forming my definition of identity with an experience I had in 2nd grade. So it was a really cool experience for me to be able to unpack that in my research paper and find out that there are other options to help kids not feel that way and really learn about their background and be able to define themselves. So from writing that paper I learned that I wanted to do something where I could use my experiences to help others. But it was frustrating not knowing exactly how that could translate into a career. Junior year requires a lot of hard work and I was taking all honors classes and I felt like I was stressing myself out and killing myself, and then I realized for what? I didn’t have any goal really, anything to work towards. I knew I wanted to go to college, and that I liked writing a research paper about multicultural education but what did that mean? What did I want to study? What did I want to become? What if I do all of this hard work and I can’t figure it out. So I became really unmotivated it was like I was working towards something, but not something I was excited about. The abstract idea of college and life and maybe being interested in doing something with education. But just because I enjoyed writing one seven page research paper about it, did that mean that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life? So I think I had a really rough time before internship and after the SATs like okay I have these scores I studied for the test, but what now? I didn’t really care what work I was producing anymore I just wanted to get it done so I could go to sleep or watch Netflix, I didn’t want to think about college anymore. It was just too hard and too frustrating for me to decide on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was really hard for me to want to come to school because I felt like it was just pointless stress that was never going to end. I didn’t know if I even wanted to go to college if it was just going to be another 4 years like this. I stopped using my planner so I was unorganized and didn’t do a very good job of planning out my work or my life at all. And I thought internship was just going to be a break from school and when I come back it’s over, and I was still going to feel the same way. But during the course of my internship I learned so much, I met so many people in the office that weren’t just doing their job for money, they genuinely cared about the work they were doing and wanted to do it. I went into my internship knowing I was fascinated with social justice and education but not knowing how that could develop into a career, I was really interested to see what politics looked like when it wasn’t on the news. Learning the difference between politics and policy and seeing how passionate representatives from organizations were for what they were fighting for made me realize that I want to have a career where I feel like that. Through internship I learned about how passionate I am to keep learning, which I think I kind of lost in the midst of junior year. When I did my mentor interview with Francine she talked about how, when she was in high school, she thought she wanted all these things and she felt like she was on everyone else’s timeline and I could really relate to that. There have always been high expectations from my family for me to go to a really good college and become a doctor or a scientist or like the president of the United States. So growing up I thought I wanted to be a scientist but I was just saying that to make them proud and I figured that being a scientist seemed okay enough, but it was never really something that I was crazy excited or passionate about and during internship I realized how important it is to have a career/major that you’re passionate about. Francine kind of just told the normal way of doing things to wait. I really admire her because she knew what she wanted and she did it. Everything worked out for her. Interviewing her and Diamond really helped me have a different perspective on finishing high school and going to college. The reason Francine enjoys her career so much isn’t because it’s just one thing that she’s super passionate about and she wants to do that one thing for the rest of her life, but she likes it because it combines a lot of things she’s passionate about and meets her skillset. Literally this interview totally shifted my mindset I don’t know why I was so rooted in thinking that I had to find one thing that I wanted to learn about for 4 years and then go into a career for the rest of my life and not get sick of that one thing. But hearing that I can just find something that I liked and I wasn’t going to be trapped into one career for the rest of my life made me really excited actually. So I didn’t have to figure out every single detail this year, or even before I finish college. I went home a told my mom what Francine had said and we went on a college website and looked at the majors and I found some that actually look really interesting, like all the stuff I liked rolled into one. So now that I’ve looked at some majors that I can see myself being perfectly happy in I feel like I have something less abstract and more certain to work towards, something I’m excited about. It’s not just school, school, school, school, but I looked at some of the classes I could be taking in college I feel like that makes it more real to me and I can visualize those things and being excited to work towards them.
(next slide) That’s not the only thing I learned from my internship I also gained a lot of new skills. Through my internship project I learned how to organize an event. We decided to host a voter pre-registration drive here. So we had to contact the organizations we needed to meet all the legal requirements of a voter pre-registration drive. We had to coordinate dates and times with Larry from the organization, Mr. Botterman with the school, and what days would be okay for us to be gone from internship with Francine. We also had to consider the details, like what would be the most efficient way to spread the word and to get the most seniors to come, so we made flyers and sent emails to the teachers and decided to hold the drive during advisory time so that it wouldn’t take away class time but could be more of an advisory activity. I also learned a variety of office skills that I didn’t have before. How to use microsoft publisher as graphic design software both for the newsletter I updated and the social media graphics I made. (next slide) I learned how to answer the phone which was really a struggle for me at first because I avoided it for as long as I possibly could, because I was scared the person on the other side of the phone would ask a question I wouldn’t know the answer to or I would say the wrong thing. But then one day no one else could answer it and the rule is if the phone rings twice you have to pick it up. So if someone else hadn’t gotten to it by the 2nd ring I knew I had to pick it up. So it rang once and I was hoping and hoping it wouldn’t ring again, but it did and I answered it and I was fine. I knew exactly what to do because I had been prepared by Diamond, I was just being dramatic. Another big thing I learned was how to take notes quickly and in a way that I could understand them. Especially when I would staff meetings with the Assemblywoman they would go so fast and I would be making a list of what they were asking for and what we were asking for and trying to connect the notes I was taking with the previous notes I had already taken as research and then also making a list of things I wanted to learn more about and look up. So definitely having a way to keep track of that and still be able to keep of up with the conversation is a very useful skill I think I learned.
So at the beginning of this year I created the S.M.A.R.T. goal of maintaining an A+ in all of my classes throughout the year, which I met! The way I intended to measure this goal was by not letting my grades ever drop below a B and the lowest any of my grades have been throughout this year was a B+, so I just made it! I worked really hard to keep my grades up, especially in math because this was the first year that tests had more of an impact on our grades. But then I got a C on a test which brought my grade down to a B+ and I realized that these tests were actually going to affect my grade way more than missing a 5 point homework assignment. So I did test corrections and started studying on Khan Academy and throughout this semester my math test grades slowly started increasing from C’s to B-’s and then on our 2 hour math final we took before internship I got the highest grade on a test I’ve had all year which was an A. So that brings me to my goal for this summer.
I want to come in to senior year with my UC and Common App essays written, and refined. I have 2 drafts of my UC essays and one draft of my Common App already but they’re just first drafts. I want to refine my drafts and write and refine my two other UC essays over summer so that they’re basically ready to copy and paste onto applications for senior year. I’m going to try to write first drafts of the two other UC essays in my time before the last day of school and then ask at least 10 people to read and critique them over the summer. I’m going to go to Virgina so I’ll ask some of my family there, my mom and I’ve asked Mrs. Hood-Esparza to critique them over the summer as well. I want to do this because I know just applying for colleges and figuring out where I want to apply will be confusing. So having the essays already written, refined and ready to go will be one less thing on my to do list. I also know that some schools that use the Common App will also want writing supplements depending on the school, so if I finish the basic essays I can just focus on writing really good responses for the supplementary writing for schools I want to go to.
(next slide) I appreciate Mrs. Nuvia and Mrs. Hood-Esparza because even though this was the most challenging year, I always felt supported by them. And even though all teachers try to get to know their students at High Tech I felt like they got to know me but also opened themselves up so that I could get to know them. This is the most comfortable I’ve been with my teachers because they’ve seen me laugh and cry (multiple times), and I know that I can go to them with anything, even when they’re not my teachers next year I feel like I’ll probably be spending a lot of time in this hall. Also Mrs. Hood-Esparza wasn’t originally in this photo but I wanted a picture of all of us together so...
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