2012 Harvard Summer Reflections (Ep.1)

For the past couple months, I have been working to understand how I came to reach my current position in life. From the day I found out I was accepted to Harvard back in early 2009 to my return from my travels around the world in early 2012, it seems that I’ve been anticipating the moment when my alarm goes off and I wake up next to my Mother and Brother in my small apartment in San Diego, California. My life for the past 3 years feels similar to a Disney Movie and I still have trouble accepting it as reality.

This persistent disbelief in my current situation stems from a childhood perceived as an “anchor baby” and a “welfare baby”, an adolescence described as “just the son of our cleaning lady”, and teenage years treated as a “threat to society” despite my straight A’s in school. Even before I could speak, people have been making assumptions of who I am. As much as I fought my placement in these pre-determined roles based on my race and class status, I couldn’t help taking on the physical and emotional strains of these expectations.

Thankfully, these past 3 years at Harvard and beyond have forced me to struggle with my past, present, and future in a way that has led me to take hold of my own identity and begin to discover a role I can actively fulfill based on my merit, skill, and passion instead of where I was born or the family I was born into. Armed with the tools learned at Harvard, in my travels, and through my volunteer, work, and fellowship experiences, I continue to unravel the history of my people and work to contribute to the future of our community.

This summer came when I needed it most and has contributed to the continual growth of my self and of my passion for service. Although “Self-Knowledge” has always been important to me, I can finally put a name on the concept and realize the utility of self-knowledge in helping others. I began in Arizona with the Nogales Summit for Youth Leadership (NSYL); went on to complete the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellowship at the Goldman School of Public Policy at Berkeley; and am currently in Tokyo, Japan working with HLAB (Harvard College Japan Initiative- Liberal Arts Beyond Borders).

Like I said, I still can’t believe this is real life. Who knew this boy from San Diego could possibly have these opportunities?

I threw myself into these experiences where I have learned many lessons- some of which, I haven’t even realized I learned yet. Understandably, a caveat of this intense and continual immersion is that the time for reflection is very limited and space for blog posts can seem rushed or underdeveloped.

For this reason, with summer coming to a close, I hope to communicate select lessons from this summer and these experiences through this Harvard Admissions Office Blog that I have kept since my early years as a Harvard Student.

Harvard is a place of intense challenges- academic, personal, emotional, and otherwise. It can even be described as a Love-Hate relationship, but I guess that’s all part of the process of self-discovery. All I know is that from my perspective now, after 3 years of successes and failures, or maybe from this side of the world, I see Harvard as the training ground that is preparing me to change the world at my fullest potential.

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