“SINCE before I can remember, I’ve always looked for every way I could to help other people. Whether it is through something as simple as tutoring my classmates for free when they struggled with a concept or something as a large as planning and executing volunteer events for the community as President of the National Honors Society in my school, putting others over myself has always been a priority. This is the mindset that let me to find nursing as the most suitable career for myself. When I was researching different career paths, I explored many options and opened my eyes to the different possibilities for my future. However, when I researched, “what do nurses do”, it was the first career choice I found that fit exactly what I was looking for”. (Gina Gavino-Da Costa, 2019)
I’m yielding my column today, to our sixteen year old American granddaughter’s ISU (Illinois State University) Essay – Personal Statement for the benefit of our reader’s especially young ones and parents. Her essay below was one of the requirements for her application for her entrance to said University.
“I grew up in a town in the middle of the Midwest. I went to school in a district that was predominantly white, with less than five percent Hispanic population, so I stuck out. My skin is brown, and my hair is big and curly. People would ask me where I’m from, and I would say, “I’m from here! Peoria, Illinois’. Then they would ask again, “but where are you really from?’ I would then explain that my parents are immigrants, my dad from Brazil and my mom from the Philippines.
“But I myself never lived in either of those places. I was born and raised in the Midwest, and I identified as nothing but American. I seemed as though all of my friends and classmates, however, didn’t see me as such. This lead to an internal struggle for me; I didn’t know where I fit in. When we would visit Brazil or the Philippines, they would see me as American. At home, I was seen as foreign.
“As I grew up, despite my internal confusion, my parents set an example for me of how to live. They came from poor families in third world countries and came to America and made something for themselves – the classic American Dream Story. As cliché’ as it sounds, they did dedicate themselves tirelessly to their education (both PhD graduates), and that was passed own to me. Since before I can remember, education and grades have been at the top of my priorities.
“Though my grades were at the top of my priorities, I struggled to find passion in getting A’s. It wasn’t until I had a taste of making a difference that I found it. During summers in high school, I would volunteer at different organizations in the Southside of my city, Peoria, to help those living at or beneath the poverty line. I volunteered at the soup kitchen, started a school supply drive at my school to bring supplies to those that need them, and volunteered at summer camps for lower income children. It wasn’t until I realized I could make a real difference that I found passion in what I was doing.
“As I found my purpose in serving others, I began to also find passion in discovering who I was. Giving back to others in turn gave back to me. Learning about the backgrounds. I discovered beauty in who I was and in the countries my parents came from. I began to appreciate my roots instead of shying away from them. I began to see my brown skin and big hair as beauty rather than flaws, and I realized that maybe I wasn’t made to fit in like I had wanted so badly.
“As I go into the next chapter of my life. I want to be able to continue helping others while also experiencing personal growth. I am a believer that we can all change the world if we do our own little part. My part? Helping to save lives and serve others as a nurse in a hospital one day. My hope is to be able to reach out to many lives to help whatever way I can. I plan to use what I learned from my internal struggles and the discovery of my passion to help others reach good health and self-acceptance.
“Today, I am a senior and the president of our NHS chapter, where I find volunteer opportunities to serve the community. But what I am doing today wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for those little children at the culinary summer camp that believed in me and showed me the power of giving back.
What do you think? Is not her “mature” outlook so inspiring to young people? A teenager for other people. A talented young woman whose noble ambition in life is to be “broken” and shared by others so to speaks and make this world a better place to live in. She follows my Diamond Rule of “to love God, love others.”
Thank you Lord for the gift of Gina Gavino Da Costa. May her tribe increase.