My senior year fall, I decided that Yale would be my “reach” school. While both my parents went to college, no one in my family had ever been to an elite, private university, let alone an Ivy League. Most of my family had never even heard of Yale. Even before applying, I was wrestling with “imposter syndrome:” the internalized fear of being a fraud. I had no idea what going to a school like Yale looked like or what my chances of admission were. And still, my college counselor (and my parents) insisted I apply, reassuring me I could succeed at Yale. On November 1, 2016 I applied for Early Action.
I remember writing and rewriting my supplemental essays, thinking about what would make me stand out. And each time I came back to the Google Doc, my gut told me to write about the people and places I cared for most: the communities that taught me to be kind, work tirelessly, and always pursue my ambitions. I wrote about my Dominican heritage, my hair, the books and writers that have sustained my love for English, and a desire to learn new things about myself. Simply put: I wanted to write about things that influenced who I was and who I could become.
When I got my acceptance letter in December I was shocked, excited, and more than anything, proud. Getting into Yale felt unreal; all I could think about was that I, a child of immigrant parents, a woman of color, a student from a small public high school in NYC did that. And even though I wasn’t sure I’d choose Yale (that would come later in April of 2017), and going to college was still 8 months away, just knowing I could get into a school like Yale reassured me my hard work paid off. But I will never forget the words my mom told me the day I was admitted: “I am so proud of you mi hija (my daughter). You did it. But remember, even if you hadn’t gotten in, you are and will always be enough.”
I carry those words with me even now when I’m having a hard day, feeling homesick, or out of place. I remember that it wasn’t ever about whether I’d be good enough to go here. It was always about what I could contribute to and get from countless vibrant communities: classrooms, cultural centers, volunteering in New Haven, my friend groups, and especially now in my role as a First-Year Counselor for Trumbull College (#Moorah). Following through with my application–even through the doubts, unfamiliarity, and fear– was all worth it, because I really didn’t know what I could accomplish until I tried.
My parents dropping me off at college (left) and my grandparents’ first visit to Yale (right) in Fall 2017.