Most people have choices. My mother always said she had none. When she was 23 years old, she immigrated to the United States from China with about fifty dollars in cash and no connections. Thanks to my mother, I have more choices than she had, and I have done everything possible to take advantage of my opportunities.
My mother left behind everything she ever knew and started working at a Chinese restaurant in Iowa City, Iowa, which was the only job she could get. She had come from a warm province in China, so she did not even own a coat, and when she arrived in Iowa for the first time, a blizzard was rolling through town. She managed to rent a cheap apartment by paying a year’s rent up front, and she started working that very first night at China Buffet, a small Chinese restaurant in the center of town. To this day, 26 years later, she has never taken a day off. She has never been swimming or hiking or exploring the city. She wakes up each morning, goes to China Buffet, does the kitchen prep work, and then cooks and waits tables all evening, until she cleans everything up and goes home to sleep. Luckily, she eventually married the restaurant’s owner, who is my father.
Because of my mother’s lack of choices, I now have choices, which makes me consider them very carefully. I have attended Kirkwood Community College with a 4.0 grade point average for the past two years, majoring in English and literature. I have been accepted to the University of Iowa’s famed English department, where I want to go on to complete my MFA in Writing. There is one problem, however. My parents do not make enough money to pay for my tuition, but they make too much for me to qualify for most government grants.
Because my parents’ restaurant was located in the center of a town, where most people do their shopping in the suburbs, China Buffet went out of business last year. At first my parents were despondent. They didn’t know what to do with themselves. But eventually, they opened a new China Buffet in the food court at our local mall. They love the new location even though they don’t have any of their regular customers from the old restaurant. This risk they took is paying off, and it has inspired me to follow my dream of becoming a writer, no matter how difficult the obstacles are.
I have been the president of both the book club and the fiction writing workshop at Kirkwood Community College, and I am already looking into joining similar clubs at the University of Iowa. I volunteered for the last two summers in a small Guatemalan town, teaching English to children and young adults, where I saw the impact of individual choices on student success. I actively seek and pursue opportunities to help my community and regularly participate in reading hours and volunteer tutoring in our local library district. I feel that I deserve this scholarship because I have worked hard and I have made the right choices to put me on the path to being in the English Department at the University of Iowa. I plan on contributing to the world as a writer with my words, and I hope that the scholarship committee will see the value in this contribution.
I will always keep in my mind my mother’s lack of choices, her 14 hour workdays, and the difficulties in her life. With this knowledge and experience, I will move forward and write, so that I can devote my life to crafting wonderful stories and not just making Kung Pao chicken. But I’ll do a little of that, too. I still work for my parents on breaks and holidays. Thank you for your consideration.
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