Trying new things can be intimidating. The unfamiliar makes us nervous in a way that is difficult to describe. When attempting to try something new, we often ask ourselves: What am I doing? Is it worth it? Why should I task this risk? Even though it’s challenging to try something new, I’m here to tell you that it’s worth it.
I grew up in Jamaica, and after hurricane Ivan, my parents had a hard time finding enough money for me to attend school. In addition, the school had been damaged and couldn’t accommodate all of the students. So, rather than having all students at school at the same time, every student attended school for only half of the day. This made life more complicated than ever before because my parents had to pay more for me to learn less. Eventually, my parents stopped sending me to school because they needed me at home to help with rebuilding the house and taking care of my little sister.
My parents were separated and for years they debated whether or not I should move to America with my father. Finally, when I was 13 years old, they decided that it was the best decision. They knew that in America I would have the chance to be more successful. I realized that if I moved, I would have the chance to go to college and one day help my parents to complete their college education as well. Even though I was happy about changing my future, leaving was one of the most terrifying experiences that I had ever had because I knew that everything would be different. In 2009, I moved to Evanston, Illinois with my dad and my sister to live with my grandmother. As soon as I started school, I quickly saw that I could never survive in the world without an education. If I couldn’t read or write, it would be more difficult to accomplish my dream of attending college.
The hardest part about moving was adapting to a new environment and learning the different ways of life. In school, I was assigned tons of homework, which I was not used to due to the inconsistency of my former school. In Jamaica, teachers relied more on textbooks as a way of learning. In America, most of my assignments required a computer, which I had never used before. Additionally, all of the classes that I was placed in were above my reading level, which made it hard to keep up. So, I started reading anything I could find around the house. I had to push myself in order to catch up and succeed, because I didn’t want to be like my parents who never graduated from high school. I had the opportunity that they never had and that motivated me to become a better student and to make them proud. Fortunately, I graduated with the rest of my 8th grade class and continued my education at Evanston Township High School.
In high school, I strived to be the best student that I could be. I was admitted to Evanston Scholars – a non-profit organization that improves college access and success for first generation and low-income students. This scholarship program granted me the chance to attend the college of my choice, making my dream a reality. Thus, by embracing something new and different, I am on my path to earning not one, but two degrees in Elementary Education and Communication at Lake Forest College.
By embracing something new and different, I have learned that I am capable of more than I ever thought possible. Without a doubt, the risk was worth the reward.