The dream of a higher education is soon to be reality.

    When all is quiet but for the faint hum of distant traffic, I will sit at the most promising looking stoop and muse within writing. Endless possibilities lie in wait, amongst the blue-lined paper; all one needs is the slightest inkling of a want, to willingly choose to delve into stories, of the future, in their ever-shifting forms. I choose to create a place for myself, letting incessant thoughts and dreams unfurl and craft futures of their own.

    Once upon a time college was a dream for me. My mother originated in Guatemala and came to the United States when she was 19 years old. She had decided to chase the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, all of which were a scarcity in her own country. Of course, education is a driving force in our family because my mother did not have the opportunity to finish even elementary school. It is her great ambition to live to see her own children educated and hopefully successful one day, in the sense that they are faithful, happy, and have a stable job.  Since she was deprived the opportunity to better her life through education, she now frequently reminds us to “go to school and get good grades, because then you don’t end up like me,” which means working at a factory and struggling to help with all the needs of our household while constantly being pressured to give to family that still remains in Guatemala.

    My mother nurtured a love for learning within me, in addition to my already competitive nature, and was hesitant but encouraging when I decided to begin the gruesome process of applying to college earlier than planned this past year.

    I have heard time and time again that there are scholarships, grants, and loans that push people through college; however, it seems as though many people apply and are accepted, but few graduate and actually work in their field of study. And therefore I began to wonder and to plan, that if there was even a minute possibility of a college where I could attend tuition free and get a good education, I would leap at the chance.

    Then, one fateful day I picked up a letter from the kitchen table that would change the course of the next two years. I had never heard of the United World Colleges before, but through the Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) leadership seminar that I attended last summer I was able to receive a letter encouraging me to apply. The letter stated that I had a higher percentage of acceptance, up to 5 percent, than those who had not attended HOBY. I decided that 5 percent was better than zero percent, so I went forth and attempted to compete in the first of three parts of the admissions process. Long story short, there were many tears along with underlying feelings of anxiety as day after day passed by.

    Ending the six months in which it took to apply, I received an e-mail notifying me of my acceptance. I had been selected as one of the 50 students from United States to receive a full scholarship for tuition, room and board, and textbooks. I would be one of the 200 students traveling to Montezuma, New Mexico for the upcoming fall to study a rigorous curriculum while forming friendships with my international peers.

    I had never really given thought to what it means to leave home, where my heart is. Embracing the adrenaline created from simply being in the midst of change, I desire to leave my family and my friends not so that I may leave and create a future for myself. Nor do I choose to go so that I may be “free” and make decisions for myself; rather, I will put my best efforts forward in hope that I can come back and help those who have known me and have helped me grow into the person I am today, to give back to the ones who molded me.

    To me, even the mere thought of attending a United World College was a silent petal falling unto the dark listless waters of a stagnant pool, nuanced crimson hues meeting onyx water, only but a gossamer whisper that began ripple after ripple into the fading shadows. I think I heard somewhere: veni, vidi, vici. I came. I saw. I conquered.