37 Accepted UC Personal Insight Question Essays

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Last updated on March 5, 2019
University of California Personal Insight Questions

Introduction

Ryan Chiang
By Ryan

The University of California is a public university system in California that has 10 campuses: Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco (graduate students only), Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. The UC system is world-renowned and widely regarded as having some of the best public universities in the world.

Undergraduate admission into the UC system requires you to write 4 essays. There are 8 prompts, called Personal Insight Questions, and you choose any 4 to answer in 350 words or less.

Applying to multiple UC schools is very easy because they are all part of the same system and as such in the application you only need to checkoff which schools of the UC system you would like to apply to.

Below are accepted Personal Insight Question essays written by real students who were accepted to these UC schools.

Please note: all names, cities, and other personal information in the essays and supplements have been replaced to keep the authors' privacy.

EssaysThatWorked does not condone nor tolerate plagiarism. Do not copy, reuse, repost, or modify any part of the written works posted on this site without express written consent.


UC Personal Insight Question Essays (37)

4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
(350 words max)

“Give me liberty, or give me death!”, I proudly exclaimed, finishing up a speech during my first Individual Event competition for Speech and Debate, also known as Forensics Workshop. Public speaking was always one of my shortcomings. During countless in-class presentations, I suffered from stage-fright and anxiety, and my voice always turned nervous and silent. I saw Speech and Debate as a solution to this barrier that hindered my ability to teach and learn. With excessive practice, I passed the tryout and found myself in the zero-period class. All of my teammates, however, joined because they loved chattering and arguing. I had the opposite reason: I despised public speaking.

I was definitely one of the least competitive members of the team, probably because I didn’t take the tournaments very seriously and mainly worried about being a better speaker for the future. Throughout the daily class, I engaged in impromptu competitions, speech interpretations, spontaneous arguments, etc... Throughout my two years on the team, my communication, reciting, writing, and arguing skills overall improved through participation in events such as Impromptu, Original Oratory, Oratorical Interpretation, Lincoln Douglas Debate, and Congress. I even achieved a Certificate of Excellence in my first competition for Oratorical Interpretation -- where we had to recite a historical or current speech -- for Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death.”

I decided to quit Speech and Debate because I felt as if it has completed its purpose. After this educational experience, my communications skilled soared, so I could perform better in school, especially on essays and presentations. Leaving this activity after two years gave me more time to focus on other activities, and apply communications skills to them. In fact, I even did better in interviews ( which is how I got into the Torrance Youth Development Program) and even obtained leadership positions in clubs such as Math Club and Science Olympiad Through my two years in Speech and Debate, I believe I became a much better thinker, speaker, and leader. Taking advantage of this opportunity boosted my self-esteem and overall made high school a better experience.

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1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.
(350 words max)

From an early age I became a translator for my mother anytime we went out in public. This experience forced me to have conversations with adults from a young age. It made me become a great communicator, while helping my parents overcome their language barrier.

Being a communicator has allowed me to lead. When I joined my school’s National Honor Society I was given the opportunity to lead. Applying the skills I used from being my mother’s translator I was able to do what no one else could, make the calls and start the club’s most successful event to date an annual Food Drive at a local Albertson’s, which collects over one ton of food every November. Also developing events like an egg hunt at the local elementary school, a goods drive for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, and stabilizing a volunteer partnership with a local park. I have been able to grow as a leader, who actively communicates and brings parties together, planning events and having them run smoothly with minor issues. For instance, last year there was an issue with the homeless shelter not picking up the food for the food drive. In a spur of the moment solution I managed for club member’s parents to collectively deliver the food. My ability to communicate benefited me allowing me to find a solution to an unanticipated problem.

Throughout the four years I have been in journalism I have led; mentoring younger writers and improving the way the paper operates. Staying after hours, skyping with writers about their articles all helped establish my role as a leader, who is always supporting his team. I have done this while writing over 100 articles, editing tons of pages, and managing deadlines. I learned that while being a leader requires effort, it is the passion like I have for journalism that motivates me to lead in my community.

Being a leader so far in my life has taught me that I need to communicate, be passionate, and pass on my knowledge helping cultivate future leaders, who can expand and supersede my work.

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4.Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
(350 words max)

The relationship I cultivated with my school's college center, by simply being inquisitive, has been most significant. Over my years in high school the college center became my 2nd home, where I learned about extra opportunities and triumphed with help from counselors.

For instance, with help from my school’s college center I applied and was accepted as an LAUSD Superintendent Summer Scholar this past summer. The program selected 15 juniors out of over 450 applicants to work in one of 15 departments, and I was chosen to work for the communications department, which received over 70 applications – making me 1 of 70. Interning for LAUSD at their 29 floor high rise was very eye-opening and exposed me to working in communications alongside seasoned professionals. The opportunity gave me the chance to meet the Superintendent and school board members, who are politically in charge of my education. As part of the communications department I learned how the district operates a network of over 1,300 schools and saw how the 2nd largest school district shares info with stakeholders through universal press releases, phone calls, and the district homepage.

I wrote several articles for the district publication and worked with public information officers who taught me the principles of professionalism and how to communicate to over 1 million people. Recently, I was called from the district to become a part of their Media Advisory Council working alongside district heads, representing the students of LAUSD.

Working for LAUSD furthered my passion to pursue careers in both communication and education. I have always had a desire to be a journalist and the internship assured me of that. I want to write stories bringing student issues from areas like mine to light. Being exposed to the movers and shakers that control education in Los Angeles has heavily motivated me to become an educator and at some point become a school board member influencing the education students like me receive.

Support from the college center has spawned opportunities like a life-changing internship and set me on course for a future full of opportunity.

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6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
(350 words max)

Understanding the past helps us make better choices in today’s society. History provides us with the views of people and politics, the ethnic origin of people, and much more. At the base of all history, there is an intensive culmination of research which hopes to address or bring light to a story. My passion for history began while digging deep into own family’s story, researching the history of Latin America, and the origins of the city I was raised in.

For example, when I first saw my favorite show Avatar The Last Airbender, I spent hours researching the mythology of the show which in the process made me learn about the philosophy of China: daoism, Confucius, and the mandate of heaven. Anything can be put within a historical framework to understand the context; every decision, tv show, and law has a history and that is exactly what I love. History forces us to take into account the voices of the past before we can attempt to plan for the future.

History has helped me become a more effective writer for the school paper. It has made me think like a attorney, revisiting old cases, and writing up a winning argument in a mock trial. Thinking like a historian has helped me make sense of the current political climate and motivated me to help start Students For Liberty, at my school’s campus where political ideologies are shared respectfully.

Learning, about history drives my inquisitive nature — I demonstrated this desire by volunteering at a local museum to learn more about the origins of my community in Carson. Ultimately, learning about the Dominguez family who established the Harbor Area of LA.

In terms of academics and performance, I have passed both of my history AP exams in World and U.S. history — being the 2nd person in my school’s history to do so. Studying history in high school has nurtured my love for social science, which I hope to continue in college and throughout my life.

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8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?
(350 words max)

In 2011, I started at a newly built school spanning sixth to twelfth grade. The school’s inception was not the greatest with gang culture and issues plaguing the school and nearby community. From this moment I knew wanted to make a change, improving the school and local community.

For example, two years ago a bicyclist was crushed by a container truck across the street from my school, several peers of mine and I advocated for a bike lane to get installed on the street to protect cyclists from the busy traffic. I worked day and night for three weeks using my connection with the city’s public works director to meet with city officials and make a change. I looked for solutions and ways to improve my community and lead the charge to better our street. When we met with city officials they agreed and ultimately approved our bike lane proposal. This civic action started with a group of three concerned high school students, in which I helped facilitate the conversations resulting into a bike lane project, that will be built the summer of 2018 after I graduate high school. Ultimately helping solve an issue in my community.

Using my influence as part of the Associated Student Body I advocated for a new medical academy on my school’s campus to address the growing interest in medicine and health careers of many students at my school. While I am not personally interested in a health related field, I recognized that many students at my school did and teachers agreed. I came in as an intermediary, who because of my position in ASB was also a member of my School’s Shared Leadership Council (SLC), through these means I motivated other ASB officers to support the academy’s inception and after a grueling amount of meetings in which we went through logistics the academy was approved for the benefit of students.

I am a student who will attend a UC pursuing my passions in journalism, education, and history; while being an involved student making the campus a better place than when I first arrived.

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5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
(350 words max)

Education has always been important in my household, but never paramount. We were always taught to put familial needs first—even before our own. My parents always emphasized the lesson that selfishness leads to bitterness and loneliness. That value is why six new members were added to my family when my father’s brother died two years ago. I did what was expected and shifted my focus from school to helping my kin.

I remember feeling a mosaic of emotions—apprehension, prudence, and displacement—as I greeted them at the airport. The five-hour-long ride back home was awkward and somber, and the complete silence said so much more than words could. We were all just afraid of what the future had in store for us. My step aunt, my two older cousins and the three younger ones were all compassionate, loving people. Yet, I couldn't seem to shed this foreboding feeling the first time we all entered our house. Every passing week made our financial situation more tenuous. So, my brother and I volunteered to help our dad at his small pharmaceutical wholesale business after he laid off two employees. We worked after school three days a week and would return home around 8:30.

That year of juggling school with my new obligations at home and my father’s business was emotionally and physically wrenching. However, I don't pity myself and I wouldn't go back to change anything because I learned so much about my character in that year. I realized that my parent’s belief in selflessness had shaped me into a more capable person because I was able to sacrifice time from socializing and classes to contribute, in some way, to my family. And even though I was concerned that I would hurt my academic performance, I stuck to my promises. That inexplicable sense of uneasiness I felt at the airport was caused by anxiety in anticipating the new demands that could potentially exhaust me. Thankfully, the challenges prepared me for the academic rigor for my junior year, my senior year, and hopefully, for university.

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1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.
(350 words max)

My group and I spent a total of seven hours preparing five hundred bagged lunches for the extensive homeless community at Oakland. Out of all the obstacles that could have halted our progress, rain was the last thing on our minds. We were lucky enough to distribute three hundred lunches before the rain began to relentlessly pour down on us. There were a few hours left of daylight before we would be able to eat Iftar for Ramadan, so, an overwhelming majority of our group wanted to call it a day. However, there was still a large number of unsheltered and hungry homeless people throughout the city, and I could not bear to let all that food go to waste. So, I raced to one of our nearest vans, grabbed a bullhorn, and yelled to gather the attention of as many people as possible. I instructed them to form lines in front of our eleven vans in order to take everybody to the nearest homeless shelters with the promise of food and entertainment. We went to six other heavily concentrated areas to do the same thing, and within just five hours, nearly five hundred homeless individuals were transported.

This event is one of the dozens of community service projects I’ve performed in my role as vice-president of the youth faction of the Sudanese Association of Northern California (SANC). This Oakland food drive has left me with a sense of clarity of what it takes to get a project, event, or any other endeavor accomplished. The food drive was obviously a success, but what made this particularly memorable is the email the president of SANC sent me the following day: “You have a keen ability to synthesize and communicate anything quickly and effectively.” I realized the explicit connection between my forensics (speech and debate) career and my community service: the power that I carry in my voice can motivate others to do good. I have tried to apply this insight into each new endeavor since.

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3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
(350 words max)

I’ve always hated the feeling of clammy hands, the needless overflow of adrenaline rushing through my veins, and the piercing eyes that can see through my façade—the eyes that judge me. I felt like this debilitating anxiety that I suffered through was something I could not avoid when doing the thing I was most afraid of—public speaking. I still felt every sweat droplet run down my skin before each speech, and this anguish never completely dissipated. Fortunately, I learned to moderate my fear in high school when I decided to join the speech and debate program. My anxiety has slowly faded in intensity as I’ve gained certitude and poise with every tournament, and every chance I’m given to speak on behalf of others; this talent has allowed me to be a voice for the voiceless.

Out of all the national tournaments that I’ve competed in, the MLK invitational holds a distinct place in my heart. It was my first invitational tournament in which I competed exclusively in Lincoln Douglas debate. I only had two weeks to prepare myself since it was finals week, while my competitors had upwards of two months to prepare. I was fortunate to break into the final round, as my years of experience helped me to articulate and explain my few arguments more effectively, while also refuting my opponent’s.

I realized that the extent of one’s knowledge is useless if it cannot be made known in a way that is clear to others. I learned that preparation is necessary, but one can be so focused on what they are going to say that they don’t hear the arguments presented. I kept an open and ready mind for various claims and strategies which left me free to adapt to the opponent’s argumentative style each round. This ability to think on my feet has served me well in countless debates, speeches, and presentations. I continuously use these skills to become a better and more active listener in my daily interactions as well.

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4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
(350 words max)

I worked in a health clinic in the impoverished village of Amara in Sudan this summer, expecting to be assigned general administrative duties during my internship. However, those expectations were tossed out the window within the first week. I consider myself a pretty squeamish person, so the thought of blood oozing from any injury disgusts me in ways that I cannot describe in words. So naturally, I was shocked when I didn’t flinch or faint as I held the retractors of a ravaged knee during surgery. I can’t say that I confronted the daunting tasks I was given with complete confidence, but I learned from the experiences nonetheless. At times, I would question the challenging orders given to me by the faculty, but I later realized that it was due to the lack of qualified doctors and nurses at the village.

I observed eleven surgeries, ranging from liver disease to a gruesome foot infection. The clinic worked under severe pressure, as basic resources and equipment were scarce, which ended badly for some patients. There was one particular patient who did not survive a disastrous bus crash due to the unavailability of ambulances. He was laying on the floor in agonizing pain for a lingering six hours. As the viscous blood stained the white cloth that covered him when he was brought to the clinic, I felt a surge of sorrow, anger, and helplessness. It was difficult for me to come to grips with the reality that some things cannot be undone. The emotions I felt that day slowly faded, but never completely receded. I left this internship satisfied with the invaluable knowledge I obtained, but I still feel like I needed to do more. I live a relatively privileged life, and don’t have to spend each day worrying about a measly injury that could end my life. At the time, even though I thought I was worked too hard for a high school student, I now know I didn't do enough. I’m eager to return to the clinic soon, and have hopes of gaining more experience and knowledge.

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2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
(350 words max)

Video games have cultivated my creative thought process. When I was a toddler I invented a game I would play with my brothers. It was nothing along the lines of Hide-and-Seek or Tag, but rather, it was meant to mimic a role-playing video game. It was called "Guy" and came with its own story, leveling system, and narrative story. While seemingly impossible to translate the mechanics of a video game into real life, the "Guy" trilogy provided hundreds of hours of fun to pass hot summer days and escape the harsh reality of our parents arguing and eventual divorce. This thought process translated into my educational career. have always thought of a tough class or test as a video game. This mostly due to my excessive amounts of video games I played as a child through middle school (especially 7th grade). Each year comes bigger and "stronger" challenges, bigger and stronger bosses to defeat. My senior year will have me face the most powerful boss yet; full AP course load on top of heavy club involvement and community college classes. Many thought of this "secret boss" as an impossible challenge; something that could never be beaten. No one from my school has ever attempted to take on such a challenge, let alone defeat it. That is probably what excites me about it. In a game, messing around with lower level enemies is fun for a while, but gets boring when it is too easy. The thought of a challenge so great and difficult makes the victory even more rewarding. Stormy skies, heavy rain, and epic boss battle music; I'll take that over a peaceful village any day. In the future, I seek to use this thinking to drive research. I think of abstract physics concepts like secret door and levels that need to be proven true or just a myth in the game. One day, I can make my own discovery of a secret "cheat code' that can help everyone who plays a little game called life.

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5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
(350 words max)

Although many would say that hardships are the greatest hindrance on a person, my hardships are my greatest assets. The hardships I have overcome are what push and drive me forward. If I had not gone through the failures of my 7th grade year I may have been satisfied as a B or C student. It is easy for us to use our hardships as excuses for not doing work, however, this is a mistake that many people make. Through my struggles and failure, I have realized an important truth: I am not special. The world will continue to go on and expect me to contribute no matter what I have gone through. Everyone endures some type of obstacle in their life; what makes people different is how they handle them. Some sit around and cry "boo-hoo" waiting for people to feel sorry for them. Others actually take action to improve their situation. Through hard work, I have been able to outperform my peers, yet I know there is still room for improvement. The thought of actual geniuses in top universities excited me; I long to learn from them and eventually surpass them, or perhaps enter a never ending race for knowledge with them. I used to live an hour away from school. I would have to wake up and be dropped off at a donut shop at 4 in the morning and then walk to school at 6:30 am. After school, I would have to walk to the public library and stay for as long as it was open then wait outside and get picked up around 9:30 pm. I am reluctant to retell this story; not because I am ashamed, but because it is not important. It doesn't matter what hardships I have endured, they do not determine who I am. What matters is what I have done.

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7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
(350 words max)

Originally I saw volunteer work as a nuisance. I felt that it was an unnecessary "requirement" for college. I felt that someone decided to do volunteer work while in high school and now it has become the norm and is essentially required for college. Once I began to get involved, however, I found a true appreciation for the work I was doing. I loved helping people and, as always, wanted to challenge myself. I worked at the Bellflower Volunteer center and tutored kids every day available, as well as helping out with large special events put on by the city. I then joined Key Club and made it my mission to attend every single event no matter what; even going to the lengths to walk for 4 hours starting at 5 in the morning (it was still dark outside) for a 2-hour beach clean up. I then became Service Event Coordinator and also made it my mission to have an event every week, while attending all of them, while still working at the Volunteer Center. I also started a tutoring program in math at my school as I really enjoy helping my peers academically. It always warmed my heart to see fellow ninjas( our division mascot) at events I had planned, friends and neighbors at Bellflower events, and CSF members at tutoring.I am always willing to help people with anything. If someone needs my help I will stop whatever I am doing to help in any way that I can. Lending a helping hand is an important part of our society; however, a helping hand cannot do anything if the other hand does not reach for it as well. We need to be able to help ourselves first before others can help us. I tried to create a community where I could help people, but also people could help themselves so that there is no reason for anyone to not be able to achieve their goals and aspirations.

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8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?
(350 words max)

Rather than relying on pure intellect, I choose to excel through continual self-improvement, my ability to overpower obstacles, and an unrelenting force of determination. There are thousands of students smarter than me, students with better test scores, students with more volunteer hours, and quite possibly, a more socially acceptable sense of humor. I can assert, however, that my determination and ambition is hard to match. I am willing to look in the face of the impossible without fear; in fact, the only emotion flowing through my body would be excitement. There are thousands of intelligent students, however many are unable or are unwilling to utilize their full potential. Although not a genius, I have shown my ability to improve drastically in capability over time. At some point in my middle school career I was not technically supposed to still be enrolled because my grades were too low; now I'm on track to be valedictorian of my class. I am willing to do whatever it takes to meet my goal; if there were a service event across the country I would be willing to walk the entire way; if I could take a million AP's I would. I understand that it is a big jump to go from Bellflower High School to a UC in terms of academic difficulty; however, that is part of the excitement. I am not afraid of failure, it does nothing but make me stronger. Am I capable of making a jump of such a magnitude? It is not my judgment to make; I am only here to try.

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4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity.
(350 words max)

At 10:30 pm on a hot, summer, Wednesday night, you would expect my friends and me to be having the time of our lives and going out on crazy high school adventures— but instead, we were actually stuck in a chemistry laboratory trying to map out the Lewis structure of sulfuric acid.

Over the summer of my sophomore year, my friends and I enrolled into ‘Introduction to Chemistry’, an evening course at our local community college. As a six-week summer course, I spent two hours in lecture, two hours in the laboratory, and another two hours studying on my own for four days a week for six weeks. It was evident that I struggled with adjusting to the pace of college when I received 19% on a quiz. I felt left behind, exhausted, and overall pathetic. No matter how many hours I spent studying, I couldn’t keep up. But instead of giving up, I picked up certain strategies like reading the material the night before, rewriting my notes, and joining a study group; eventually working my way up to a B.

At the end of that summer, I learned so much more than just chemistry. On top of having the raw experience of what college is like, my chemistry experience taught me that it is okay to fail. I discovered that failure is an essential part of learning. Coming to this realization inspired me to take more college courses and rigorous courses in high school. I transformed into a hungry learner, eager to fail, learn, and improve. By seizing the opportunity to take this course, I pushed myself beyond my limits. This experience and realization changed how I wanted to pursue the rest of high school, college, and life in general.

I walked into my first day of the chemistry class expecting to walk out with an A; but thankfully, I didn’t. Instead, I walked out of that class with a taste of the college experience and a principle that I now live by-- that it is okay to fail, as long as you get back up.

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8. What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?
(350 words max)

The spin-the-wheel slows down and eventually stops at ‘try again next time’. That is, until I secretly push it one slot over to ‘princess tiara’. As the child hurries away to the next carnival game with the tiara in her hair, her mom turns back at me with a warm smile and mouths the words “thank you”. Seeing genuine happiness in the people of my community while volunteering at events such as my school carnival always remind me why I love my community so much.

I hold a lot of pride in how I’ve become a prominent figure in my community. From volunteering at festivals for my local elementary school to becoming employed by the City of American Canyon Parks and Recreation Department, I relish being in the hub of the community. I love our annual Fourth of July parades and Easter egg hunts, where I am stopped every 15 minutes to catch up with the crazy kids I worked with at summer camp or even just with the staff I’ve met from school. Growing up and connecting with such a diverse community is and will always be a large part of who I am. From kindergarten up until my senior year of high school, both my small community and I as an individual have grown immensely. By volunteering at local events, connecting with the people of my community, and finally getting employed by my city, I know that I have contributed to the successful growth of my community.

Although I really love my community here in the small town of American Canyon, I cannot help but think of the other great communities that I can potentially be a part of as well. I believe that by going to the University of California, I will be able to thrive in the liveliness of the Question #8: What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?

communities that the campuses are well-known for. A major contribution I believe that I can bring to the University of California is integrating, being involved in, and building the school’s community so that both I and the school can grow together for each other.

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5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
(350 words max)

Throughout my childhood, I grew up in a nine-person household where the channels of our TV never left the Filipino drama station and the air always smelled of Filipino food. But the moment I left home, I would go to a typical suburban elementary school as an average American kid at the playground. I grew up in a unique position which I both love and hate: being a second-generation Filipino American.

I love being a second-generation immigrant. I have the best of both worlds. But I also hate it. It chains me to this ongoing struggle of living under the high expectations of immigrant parents. How could I hate the part of me that I loved the most?

Growing up, I lived under the constant academic stress that my parents placed on me. Their expectations were through the roof, demanding that I only bring home A’s on my report card. My entire academic career was based on my parent’s expectations. Their eyes beat down on every test score I received. I loved them so much, but I could only handle so much. The stress ate me alive, but I silently continued to work hard.

Living under this stress is the biggest ongoing challenge of my life thus far. Until last year, I never understood why my parents expected so much from me. Finally being old enough to understand my parent’s point of view, I realize that they set these high expectations in the hopes that one day, all of the pain and struggles it took to get to America will pay off. Since then, I’ve overcome the high expectations of my parents by converting their pressure into a fireball of ambition and motivation, deeply ingrained in my mentality.

This intense desire to succeed in America as a second-generation immigrant is something that has and always will fuel my academic drive. As the first person in my family to go to college in America, I’ve made it my life aspiration to succeed in academics in the honor of my family-- a decision made by me.

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1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.
(350 words max)

Seconds after our teacher announced our project groups ?I heard the familiar, pitchy voice of the most irritating person in the class yell my name. Just like my worst nightmare, I had been put in a group to work with Eva; the annoying girl who had a weird obsession with horses. At that moment, I knew that it was going to be the longest project of my life.

Eva was extremely difficult to work with; she would always interrupt me, stubbornly stuck to what she wanted, and did not listen to a thing I said. Two weeks of tension and no progress flew by until one day during class, Eva went on another ramble about her horses. Although I wasn't ready to hear her talk about horses again, I let her continue. What was another rant about horses turned into a conversation about the mental disorders Eva faced and how she relied on horse riding as therapy. After that conversation, our progress took a complete 180. I was eager to learn more, and we finished the project with more purpose and meaning. My perspective changed entirely.

I was moved by Eva’s passion for horse riding and encouraged her to start a club on campus where she could share her passion with others. Beyond this project, I helped Eva defend her riding center during city council meetings because it was on the verge of being shut down. In exchange, working with Eva taught me how to be more open-minded, more patient, more understanding; values of which I personally lacked my entire life. ?I began to cooperate with people with a more accepting and considerate mentality, understanding that people work in different ways.

I’m glad I chose to work through the project with Eva because I grew as a leader in a way that I would have never expected. I know I could have easily done the project by myself, but instead, I worked through our disagreements and bickering. S?haring this experience with Eva unearthed my ability to lead using patience and understanding, which are now essential assets to my leadership capabilities.

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1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.
(350 words max)

In my freshman year of high school, I had enrolled in the String Orchestra Advanced Class which was mixed in with the Beginning class. I was the only person with experience, seven years in the Violin at the time, while most of the students in the class were beginners. I got class elected, then re-elected as President my Freshman and Sophomore years, and was First Violin, then First Viola Chair.

My first year consisted of myself and the instructor teaching the basics of each instrument. Learning a new instrument is frustrating, and there were times where older students in the class would get frustrated and unhappy that a Freshman knew more than they did. As a leader I had to make sure I did not keep a separation between myself and my classmates. Therefore, my Sophomore year, I changed my instrument to the Viola. By showing my classmates that I too was a beginner, and that I too had to learn because I had a new instrument -inspired the class to learn as well. My classmates no longer saw me as someone who told people to practice and not give up, yet did not have to practice or struggle themselves, but instead, as someone who was there practicing, and struggling along with them.

The Orchestra program at my school started my Freshman year as an experimental class, but the school ended the class after my Sophomore year. Though unfortunate, in the two years of its existence, my classmates went from being novices, to performers, where in the last year of the program, we performed many times for school events and finally in an orchestra conference in my Sophomore year, where judges praised our Orchestra's technique and cohesiveness. After the class got cut, many of my classmates continued to pursue music independently, or in the District Orchestra. It is a wonderful feeling for me to see my former classmates -to this day- performing, and even teaching others, knowing that I was there when their journeys in music first began, and I look forward to seeing their musical pursuits in the future.

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2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
(350 words max)

I express my creative side by playing the violin and other musical instruments. Ever since I was a younger child, music had always been a part of my life. The first instrument I remember playing is the piano when I was four years old. My school had a music program, so I went and learned how to read music and play the Recorder. Though it was a simple instrument, it was to prepare us students for the more complex instruments that we could choose to play after completing the Recorder lessons.

I took this class all of first grade, and in second grade I was ready to choose the instrument I wanted to specialize in. I chose the Violin, and now -ten years later- I am still playing it. Throughout the years I have learned to play other instruments as well, such as the Piano, Trumpet, Viola, and more. During that time I have also been able to play those instruments in different styles of music.

From second to seventh grade, I played the Violin and sung in my elementary school district's Mariachi and my middle school's Mariachi even when I did not know how to speak Spanish. I have been playing the Violin at my church's choir almost every Sunday since Seventh grade. I played the Violin and Viola in my high school's Orchestra class in Freshman and Sophomore year, and since my Junior year I have played the trumpet in my school's Jazz Band and Trumpet Choir.

My siblings have also been inspired to be creative musically, and together we perform at our church and other places, and music has become an important part in their lives as well.

Throughout my life I have been able to express my love for music in many different ways. Whether through playing with a group, doing a solo in front of an audience, composing my own music, or teaching my younger siblings how to read and play music the way I was taught many years ago, music has always been a large way that I could express my creative side.

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3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
(350 words max)

My greatest talent would be relating to and inspiring others. Throughout my time in school I have demonstrated that talent by becoming a leader where I was trusted by my teachers and peers. It began in 5th grade when I was voted to become Student Council for my class, where my peers knew that I related well with them and that I would do my best to use my position to fix their issues.

In middle school, I became the Knowledge Bowl team Captain. There was a new coach, so the program was small, about five students. There were many students who wanted to join the team but felt that they were not "smart enough" to join. I recognized this and encouraged those students to join and they succeeded. By the end of the year, our team was 3rd in the district overall statistically standing, our highest ranking in a while.

In high school I joined JROTC as a Freshman, and I became a Platoon Sergeant my Junior year. My job for the semester was to teach and motivate cadets in the program. Some cadets did not do well with authority, and felt attacked when other class leaders would be assertive. As a leader I took a different approach, and related to my cadets. My platoon was constantly noted as being a well-rounded platoon by our instructors, and I received the Non-Commisioned Officer Leadership Award.

In Academic League, motivation was key to our team's success. Sometimes personal problems would affect a member of the team, so I showed them I could relate to their struggles and still believe in their ability to help the team. In times when we would be losing in a match, I would inspire the team to keep pushing on, and to remain positive. That year our team placed 5th in the district -again a highest ranking in a while- and I was voted as "Most Inspirational" by the team.

Throughout the years, relating to and inspiring others has been a skill that has allowed me to make great connections with so many people.

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6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
(350 words max)

An academic subject that inspires me is Computer Science. Computers have fascinated me ever since a young age. I used my first computer when I was 4 years old- the Apple Macintosh Performa. I began learning about how computers worked in first grade, where I had my own Windows XP computer. I did not know what I was doing when I clicked through the thousands of files that made the computer run, but it was fascinating, and almost seemed like magic. I knew that a career with computers had to be in my future.

My fascination with computers took a new meaning in freshman year, when I decided to learn how to program. I did not know where to start, so I just typed in the search browser, "how to start programming". That day, I started with the Processing Language. It was a simple language to learn, but it built the foundation for my furthered interest in the computer programming aspect of Computer Science. After a couple months of using Processing, I learned HTML/CSS and JavaScript. These languages would allow me to program a wider range of applications. Soon enough, I became bilingual in the languages of computers. As time went on throughout my freshman and sophomore years I exposed myself to more languages like SQL, Batch Scripting, and in junior year, Java.

In my junior year I took AP Computer Science A, and finally after all the years of loving computers, I was able to take Computer Science as a class where I learned the Java language. I also furthered my interest in Computer Science by integrating it with the Engineering club on campus, using the Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

This year I am in Computer Integrated Manufacturing, where I can implement my knowledge of Computer Programming into Engineering, through the use of Corel Draw with the Laser Cutter Printer and AutoDesk Inventor and OpenGL C++ Code with the CAD 3-D Printing machine.

Computer Science has always been a part of my life inside and outside of the classroom, and I seek to continue pursuing it as my major.

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7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
(350 words max)

Throughout my childhood, the phrases “get good grades” and “make money” constantly harassed my every waking moment. Life seemed pointless, a never-ending cycle of trying to make more money to create artificial happiness. However, through partaking in my middle school’s ASB, I discovered my love for helping others, and I realized that I wanted to make my life about changing the world and leaving behind a better future for the generations to come.

In an attempt to live up to this philosophy, I have performed hundreds of hours of community service. From volunteering at a senior home to distributing food to the homeless, there is no doubt that I have made a substantial impact on those around me.

Despite all this, my most significant contributions are the ones that take place every day and are often undocumented. Picking up trash, staying long after my job is complete to help other groups, or even saying, “Thank you. Have a nice day,” to anyone who has provided a service for me are just a few examples. While they seem insignificant, these small actions add up.

However, above all, my biggest contribution is building meaningful connections with the people around me and making sure they realize how special and important they are to me and everyone else. In nurturing those who are less experienced, assisting those who are struggling with their emotions or their studies, and inspiring those who have untapped potential, I am not merely applying a band-aid on a wound, but elevating a whole community around me to tackle and prevent ailments the next decades will bring.

Years from now, I will likely have forgotten about my modest academic achievements. However, the memories of seeing someone I had mentored blossom into a strong leader and the smiles and laughter of someone I’ve helped battle through depression will forever be ingrained in my mind.

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6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
(350 words max)

Ever since I was little, I have possessed a unique fascination for nature and the way it interacts with itself. As I sat in the prickly seats of old tour buses and the bilingual tour guide has silenced himself for the dozens of passengers that have closed their curtains and fallen into deep slumber, I would keep my eyes glued to the window, waiting to catch a glimpse of wild animals and admiring the beautiful scenery that mother nature had pieced together. At Outdoor Science Camp, while most of my friends were fixated on socializing and games, I was obsessed with finding every organism in the book. Nothing else caught my attention quite like ecology.

As high school dragged on and the relentless responsibilities, assignments, and tests washed away the thrill of learning, ecology was one interest that withstood the turmoil. At the end of a draining day, I would always enjoy relaxing to articles detailing newly discovered species or relationships between species.

This past summer, I was able to further this interest when a unique opportunity to volunteer abroad caught my eye. Flying over to the beautiful tropical shorelines of the Dominican Republic, I was able to dive into the frontlines of the battle against climate change, dwindling populations, and habitat destruction brought about by mankind, and I enjoyed every moment of it. While everyone was obviously ecstatic about snorkeling in the crystal blue waters, only I was able to retain that same excitement about trekking through knee thick mud and mosquito infested forests to replant mangrove trees. While tracking animal populations, my heart leaped at the sight of every new species that swam right in front of my eyes. Even when it came to the dirty work of building structures to rebuild coral and picking up trash along the beach, I always found myself leading the pack, eager to start and do the most.

From this experience, I realized that pursuing the field of ecology was what I could picture myself doing far into the future, and this was how I was going to impact the world.

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5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
(350 words max)

At the start of high school, I saw nothing but success. From grades to extracurricular activities, everything seemed to be going smoothly. However, as my sophomore year progressed, this wave of success was soon swamped by a wave of disillusionment. I struggled to perform in Calculus and as a Vice-President, but instead of looking for a solution, I looked for excuses. Ultimately, when I was forced to face my two F’s and my lost elections, the world came crashing down. The vision I had meticulously planned out for the future seemed to shatter before my eyes. My self-confidence plummeted to an all-time low. I thought my life was over.

However, my response to this failure was what would ultimately determine the direction my life would take. In the end, I made the right choice: instead of continuing to blind myself with a false narrative that cast all the blame off my own shoulders, I admitted to my own shortcomings and used this experience as a lesson to grow from.

In doing so, I learned to focus on the aspects of my life that I was truly passionate about instead of spreading myself too thin. I learned to face challenges head-on instead cowering at the first sign of difficulty, even if it meant asking others for help. I learned to accept and utilize my own differences to create my own unique leadership style. Most importantly, rather than letting this mistake define me, I ignited a sense of determination that would guide me back on the right path no matter how many obstacles I encounter.

Looking back, this tragic mistake was a double-edged sword. While it definitely leaves a stain on my record, it is also likely that I wouldn’t have been able to find the same success a year later without the lessons I gained from this experience. At the end of the day, while I still grimace every time I contemplate my sophomore year, I understand now that this mistake is what has allowed me to develop into the person I am today.

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8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?
(350 words max)

All around us, the world is dominated by big voices, people who can present themselves positively and effectively elaborate on their opinions. Many of our most successful politicians carve their paths to the top through their charisma and articulate language. Unfortunately, while many of them possess a strong voice, many of them don’t possess that same strength in listening. While their job is to represent the people, there is a large disconnect between their perspective and the perspectives of their citizens. Even in Congress, civilized debate has transformed into a shouting battle, where both parties attempt to push their ideas, but neither side is willing to listen.

In contrast, a leader with an open ear, an open mind, and an open heart is exactly what I bring to the table. I believe that everyone has a unique story to share. From the most flamboyant billionaires to the people living on the streets, every single person possesses their own unique set of skills, perspective, and knowledge that can be useful to learn from. Because of this, I make it my priority to listen to and understand the human behind each team member I work with. In recognizing each person’s strengths and weaknesses, I’m able to build a positive environment in which every person is able to reach their maximum potential.

For example, when it comes to group projects, I always make sure to know the personalities of those I’m working with and create a transparent and inclusive environment that is conducive to productivity. Rather than dishing out assignments and deadlines, I make sure everyone is able to contribute in a way that matches their strengths and skills. Furthermore, by creating such a transparent atmosphere, group members are able to understand each other’s situations and help each other out like an actual team, allowing everyone to be both productive and pleased.

With all the divisiveness that is taking place in the country today, it is more necessary than ever to have open-minded leaders such as myself to help bring this campus and this nation together.

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3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
(350 words max)

My greatest skill is my ability to remember things really well, whether they be minute details or important information that should not be forgotten. Over time, I’ve had a knack for remembering details most people would not even bother to remember, such as old test scores, atomic masses, and other details involving numbers. My friends have always marveled at my ability to remember all these numbers. When I was in chemistry class, we used the periodic table so much that I soon began to remember the atomic mass of the more common elements, and even the molecular mass of common compounds like glucose or water. One of my best friends, who is undoubtedly the smartest person in our class, even finds it crazy that I can remember all these numbers and always tells me that my memory of numbers is amazing. I also used my memory to learn and remember how to solve the Rubik's cube, which amazes my friends, as they find it to be complex with many different, possible combinations.

This skill that I have developed, however, isn’t completely under my control, as sometimes I just remember random and irrelevant facts without really trying to do so. I recall one weekend when my eight-year-old cousin was attempting to memorize the digits of pi: I remembered them along with him, learning up to forty digits in just one day. The skill is seemingly natural and not something I have worked hard to develop, as I may be able to use my memory to my advantage, or it can be a disadvantage. It helps when I have multiple tests in one day, or a test with many questions where I have to remember a lot of information, such as finals. Sometimes, however, it is a disadvantage when I remember information during a test that is not relevant to the topic, such as random dates, names, or song lyrics, to name a few. This skill is very important to nonetheless, as it has assisted me all throughout my life in many tests and challenges involving memory.

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4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
(350 words max)

I was going to University of Southern California for three weeks, and that was all I could think about as the school year came to a close. After finding out that I had been accepted into the Bovard Scholars program, along with one of my best friends, I could not wait for the upcoming summer. As July 16th neared, I became more and more anxious, as I did not know what to expect, but I was looking forward to this new opportunity.

The program had just been launched this year and 49 of around 500 applicants were accepted. Over the course of three weeks, the 48 other people from all over the country would be my new friends. During my time there, I would be assigned a coach who would help with the college process, whether it be working on the college application as a group or having one-on-one sessions to work on personal statements. Outside of working on college applications and essays, we had guest speakers from admissions offices, student panels where we could ask questions, career panels, and workplace visits. We also had many presentations on financial aid, fields of major, jobs, and interviews which, most of it, I did not know beforehand.

Along with all this help, we also dormed at one of the residence halls, which allowed us to experience what college life might be like. I was amazed by the diversity of people that were attending the program, and I was shocked to find out that my roommate from New York was Egyptian. We even had Resident Assistants who planned evening activities for us to further stimulate college life. However, they were not just our Resident Assistants; as we grew closer we were able to gather information from them about college.

As the program came to its end, I did not want it to stop. I had such an incredible experience and learned so much about college. I knew that the program will never truly end, though, as our coaches will continue to work with us until Spring when we are accepted into colleges.

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5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
(350 words max)

Growing up, I tackled the challenge of school without much guidance from anyone other than my older sister, who is one grade higher. When I was at the young age of just five, my parents divorced and my sister and I were left with our dad, who we did not see often. Because our time with him was limited to driving us to school and home and dinner, we could not ask him for much help with homework or projects. Most of the time, we did the work ourselves or asked our uncle and aunt for help when they came on Saturdays. By the time we reached middle school, I was in more advanced classes, and although my dad had received an Associate’s Degree, he did not take advanced classes like I did, so he was unable to provide much help. My dad only took math up to geometry, and his English was not as fluent as mine, preventing him from providing much help.

Once I enrolled in high school, I was able to get help from teachers, programs, and even my sister. With this newfound help, I overcame the struggle of not knowing what to do in school and life, and I learned that help is always there, but I just needed to ask. Throughout my time in high school, I became more motivated than I was before to do the best I can and overcome anything that comes my way. I was able to do this with help from others, and I will continue to strive for greatness, overcoming any obstacles. Without the help of others, I would not have had the success that I have had in school. My good grades are a testament to the help that I have received in order for me to be where I am now. Although I can say that I have overcome this challenge, there is still one last hurdle, which is to graduate from high school, attend college, and apply everything I have learned to the real world.

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7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
(350 words max)

I never thought that I would tutor other people after school, but that was what I did my junior year and now in my senior year. During my freshman and sophomore years, I was the one being tutored by upperclassmen who had taken my classes before. Receiving help from others inspired me to become a tutor my junior year so I could give back and share the opportunity that I had. At first, I was not sure if I would be up to the task, as I did not feel confident in my teaching abilities in various subjects. As time went on, however, I became at ease and comfortable tutoring anyone the more I tutored along with my peers.

Every day from Monday through Thursday, I went to library as much as I could to help tutor with others from 3 to 4 o’clock, and it slowly became a part of my daily schedule. To begin with, I was not the greatest teacher, but as I helped more and more, I gradually became better at it due to teaching the same concepts repeatedly. Not only was I helping the person I was tutoring understand the subject, but I also was becoming better at the subject by teaching it. Teaching a subject allowed me to relearn concepts and ideas that I had forgotten, as well as studying for a subject if I was tutoring a classmate.

Motivated by wanting to help other students, I was able to be at tutoring most days, and this led to me receiving a tutoring award at my school’s California Scholarship Federation banquet at the end of the year. It was a surprise to me as I was not expecting to be honored. To me, the best award was the satisfaction of helping others understand how to do homework questions and them being grateful for the help. Although this year tutoring is not being held in the library yet, I joined another club that tutors after school for the time being so I can continue helping others and spread my knowledge.

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3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
(350 words max)

Just when we think we figured things out, the universe throws us a curveball. So, we have to improvise. The universe is funny like that. Sometimes it just has a way of making sure we wind up exactly where we belong.

When I first started playing flute, I probably looked like a pufferfish choking on a clump of wasabi, but that didn't matter. Blasting deep breaths into my flute, I blew voraciously as I tried to produce a B-flat; but all I could muster was a raspy whistle.

6 years later, I was filled with pride knowing that I had worked hard enough to be selected as the concert soloist for the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County. My moment had arrived; I stand center-stage and begin Chaminade's Concertino Op. 107. Recognizing the minor scales and arpeggios, my fingers glide through the measures with absolute certainty; and with each successive measure, my breathing, tone, and articulation seemed to increasingly synchronize. Before long, the piece came to an end. Holding the D-natural farmada as long I could, I let the note fade into submission and lowered my flute. Taking a bow, I reveled in the magnitude of my hard work.

As I grew older, it became evident that I would need orthodontics and jaw reduction surgeries. With my face full of rubber and metal, I couldn't form a tight enough valve to sustain notes. I was officially back to square one. The following months were brutal, I had to put away Tchaikovsky and go back to the basics; but my effort was genuine and I gradually regained my ability to play.

Today, I consider playing flute my greatest skill. Not because I can play complex scales or win competitions, but, instead, because through the horrors of braces, learning how to double-tongue, and impossibly fast measures, I never gave up. Playing flute had crafted in me the relentless determination which I've exhibited over the past 8 years. I may not know what curveballs life will pitch to me next, but I have confidence knowing I will persevere regardless of the circumstances.

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7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
(350 words max)

I am "Korean big toes", "a water panda in disguise", and "Mr. Sweatface" - these are the nicknames I happily accepted over the years. My life was a buoyant bubble, full of gratification, funny nicknames, and simple pleasures; but that changed when I was confronted with the inhumane conditions of the LGBT centers around my town.

Stepping into the stone-house building, a few things immediately caught my attention. The rooms were small, full of broken furniture, smelled of mold, and had poor lighting; moreover, there was no privacy and extremely limited resources. It was obvious that the facility didn't have the funds to sustain itself, let alone help anyone trying to assimilate back into society. My heart ached as I realized the advantages I had been taking for granted; the idealistic mirage of reality I previously held, was now replaced by an overwhelming truth: Life isn't fair. Everyone in that facility had been criminalized for their sexuality, and I was going to do something about it!

Over the next few weeks, I brainstormed ideas and eventually decided on creating a blog where I would share the stories of anyone who was willing to speak up for change. The clickety-clack of my keyboard filled the common rooms of LGBT centers around my city. I slowly-but-surely interviewed the residents of these homes, recording stories of inequality and discrimination. As I uploaded each story to my blog, I felt a sense of accomplishment knowing that I was breaking down barriers and fulfilling my passions. Furthermore, reading the comments flooding my inbox, I realized that although the LGBT centers in my area still remain underfunded, I had made an impact on individuals through my blog and did something for a community I genuinely cared about. It was more than I could have ever hoped for.

In my quest to create change, I forged a new nickname for myself -- "advocate"; except, unlike the titles I was bestowed as a kid, this nickname represented my creativity, ingenuity, and passion, and for those reasons, it is more precious than anyone will ever know.

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8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?
(350 words max)

This was the night. Clenching my fists, I called my dad over. Maybe it was the adrenaline coursing through my veins or maybe just suspense, but time seemed to freeze as anxiety washed over my consciousness. A million doubts flooded my mind as I dreaded what would come next. The pitter-patter of his feet hitting the tile floor brought me back to reality. My dad had always loved and supported me, I just had to trust that things would be alright.

In a quivering voice, my hands shaking, I explained to my dad that I was gay. After a brief moment of silence, my dad said ten words that completely changed my life: "I raised you completely wrong, get out of my house". I was devastated, but I wasn't surprised. This was the same person physically forced pork down my throat when I told him I wanted to become a vegetarian; who would hit me and my mom if either of us voiced dissenting opinions; and the same person who would come home drunk and threaten to kill us. With tears running down my cheeks, I packed my belongings and drove my 98' Nissan Pathfinder away from my home. From that night on I learned to be brave, to follow my dreams, and to fight for what I believe in.

The next few years were tough. In my community, being gay was unacceptable and embracing my identity meant enduring the consequences. I will never forget being dragged into a storage room and choked or hiding the bruises I got from being pelted by textbooks. But looking back, I realize that the lessons I learned drove me towards success. They inspired me to be relentless and graduate early, to surpass expectations by doing college-credit classes, and remain strong in the face of oppression and adversity. Moving forward, as I look to broaden my education horizons, I know that I have the emotional vitality to success wherever I go. So I want to dedicate this essay to my dad and to everyone who made me strong, thank you.

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2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
(350 words max)

I was brought into this world with an overactive imagination and an absence of siblings. My abundance of boredom and lack of playmates was solved by creating multiple characters, drawing them, and pretending to be them. When I joined theater my freshman year, I quickly fell in love because it brought me back to that childhood innocence of carelessly being someone else It was an opportunity to evaluate how I could incorporate my personality, experiences, and charisma into a character and to turn my visual concepts into a reality through doing makeup.

I was also introduced to improvised comedy. where I presented my witty and quirky side. On the other hand, working with a cast and crew was something I was unaccustomed to. but I soon saw myself becoming inspired by the surrounding creativity of others. Whether we were doing a dramatic or comedic play, we worked together to evoke an emotional response from the audience. It’s an honor to see people laugh and cry during our performances because I've connected with hundreds of people by putting my heart on a stage. In contrast, painting has been a private indulgence. Every feeling and thought trapped inside becomes free on that canvas into a beautiful visual creation. Like my mood, my paintings aren't uniform and consistent; they range from iridescent beaches to scattered splotches, yet every stroke, color. and mistake had a reason.

As my only patron, my mom couldn't always afford painting supplies, so occasionally I had to improvise with tools like spoons, paper towels, and erasers. Regardless of the tools I was using, my paintings were reflection of myself. The progression of my work is an exhibit of my struggles, success, and how I became who I am today. Painting is not about the finished product; it's about the journey and the lessons I've learned to get there. My creativity is not limited to the arts, but is embedded my appearance, mindset, and career path in solving mental health issues. Creativity, to me, is putting bits and pieces of myself into doing what I love.

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3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
(350 words max)

Life can be an overwhelming obstacle course, but my ability to get over any bump with a smile on my face has been my greatest strength. Maintaining an optimistic outlook has introduced me to new opportunities, made me a better leader, and helped me get through everyday life. Although my determination to get back up was built by a couple scrapes and falls. I learned about the impact of a positive attitude on others through my experience on the tennis team.

The motivation and bond my team had because of the encouragement and support from our captains has influenced my approach to interacting with others. For instance, while working with my peers, I always praise them for the effort that they put in and patiently help them. When applying this to class projects and theater productions, I saw an improvement on our performance and our accomplishments felt more satisfying and meaningful. My positive attitude is also influential during my job at a convalescent home. As an activities assistant, my objective is to get residents to participate in activities and to make them fun.

At times, it’s difficult to convince residents that a macaroni necklace is worth getting out of bed for, but I am always that friendly face that cheers them on and picks them up. Knowing that my happiness is brightening someone else's day is extremely valuable and is the fuel to my enthusiasm. Preserving my optimism is not always easy; however, my excitement for the future retains my drive to overcome any challenge. Every opportunity given to me is taken advantage of, and if something doesn't go as planned. I am confident another door will open. Even though I enjoy focusing on the bright side of life, I'm aware that some people feel like they cant overcome their challenges alone. I recognized that I can be a hand to help people up, someone to believe in them, and a friend to conquer obstacles with. Using this positive influence is the very reason why I am looking forward to a career in psychology.

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5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
(350 words max)

The saying "you can be your own worst enemy" was the embodiment of the time I hit lowest point. Finishing my 22-hour days, I expected to lay down in bed close my eyes, and smile: thinking about all my accomplishments. Instead, I was sleep deprived, rapidly losing and gaining weight, and unhappy.

As a result, I stopped being able to focus and my grades began to fall. I lost motivation and the only reason I did anything was because of my obsession with completion. In this vulnerable state, I would tell myself I was useless and shy away from taking opportunities. I started to question if could get out of the hole I dug. Ironically, I have always been an optimist. I thought about the many things I wanted to do and I wouldn't be able to do any of them from a hospital bed.

Seeing the bright light ahead of me, I moved forward to a journey of self-improvement. First, I isolated myself from things that were affecting my happiness through finding a place where I could peacefully think about why I was enduring so much pain, regularly eat, and get some sleep. When I came back from my retreat, I continued my routine which improved my health and performance in school. The greatest outcome was my realization that I was compensating for my lack of self-esteem, I've been trying to get validation from my parents and peers by trying to be perfect, but when my friends left me and my parents didn't notice my efforts I overworked myself.

It was hard to stop searching for approval, yet the support of close friends and acknowledging that I'm doing everything I'm capable of, revealed to me what its like to love yourself. From then on, I determined my self worth, no one else. Now that I found my own drive and am confident, I don't have to beg for friends. struggle to maintain grades, skip meals, or lose sleep. Presently, I can say I am no longer my worst enemy: we're like friends that get closer every day.

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8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?
(350 words max)

Stepping foot in public has been like opening a floodgate to questions and comments about the one thing that I've been looked down upon my entire life for - my height. Standing out because I was 4'9" wasn't something I was proud of; I was picked last for sports, not taken seriously, and often used as a human arm rest. My mom warned me life was going to be hard if I didn't drink my milk.

However, people aren't aware that my appearance is a deception and what makes me extraordinary is that I've outgrown myself. People should be asking me how a person so "big" can fit into a girl so tiny. I have a huge personality, dreams, goals, and a plethora of talent. My achievements earned me such a high standing that I do know what the weather is like up there, yet, my head is never in the clouds because my distance from the ground makes me down to earth.

My only oddity is that my anatomy has grown out of proportion. It's hard to believe that with such short arms, I can extend them long enough to touch hearts with my art and performances. I have been devoted to helping people and educating myself ever since I was young, but who knew that my brain and heart would become so gigantic? Despite my how big my brain is, I keep my head as small as my body because I value letting others know that I'll never overlook them. Although I haven't hit as many significant growth spurts as the average person. I grow with ambition every day, considering every moment a step closer to success. Being able to pursue my passions at a university will allow me to continue maturing into a person who will one day be looked up to by many. The reader of my response cannot see the facade that has been the subject of many peoples first impressions of me. instead, they will observe that even though I can't reach the top shelf, I can still reach my goals in life.

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7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
(350 words max)

Serving food at school carnivals, embellishing the local marsh, tutoring students after school, and discharging patients at my local hospital were some of the ways I actively supported my city. However, a distinct way of being engaged in my community involved being selected for the Youth Development Program last summer. This organization works with the Torrance Refinery and selects thirty out of hundreds of applicants. The first week of this program involved activities that trained students for college and eventually their careers by making them adept in communication, leadership, and teamwork skills. For the next four weeks, students were assigned a specific job around the City of Torrance and Torrance Unified School District (TUSD).?I was placed in the TUSD Information Technology Department, along with six other students, and we essentially helped deal with technology-based issues around the district. Even though my professional desire incorporates biology and chemistry, I had a compelling interest and math and technology. I gave back to my community by utilizing the technological skills I gained at work. My colleagues and I traveled daily to several schools around the district and assisted in technological advancements: testing network ports and preparing schools for newer phones, imaging and updating new laptops and desktops, and arranging and setting up new computer labs and Chrome book carts.

?Today, many people globally use technological and visual aids to assist their education. My summer job also allowed me to make a difference in the education of others. With the faster internet, newer telephones and computers, teachers could instruct more efficiently and students can be educated more effectively, thus improving their academic performance in the future. This program helped me a lot by boosting my teamwork and leadership skills, which will be extremely valuable as I will be pursuing many president/vice-president positions in my senior year. However, this program has allowed me to make a stronger impact on other people rather than myself; I feel delighted that my work in summer will be beneficial to twenty-thousand students across Torrance.

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