I have always had dreams and aspirations that so many told me I couldn’t achieve due to the background from which I came. Both my parents grew up in slums in India and emigrated to the United States with the sole hope of giving me and my brother a better future. For my entire life, my parents constantly struggled to make ends meet in our home, jumping from job to job, never getting paid more than $5-10 dollars an hour, and not knowing an ounce of English. My whole life, we could not afford anything that was not food, clothes, or shelter, living paycheck to paycheck. There were times that I sold candy at school to friends, so I could afford to buy a backpack or pay for a heating bill. With all these challenges, I grew up in a very traditional Indian household, and being from a low-income family, I was expected to grow up to be a housewife, rendering all my efforts to no purpose. For a very long time, I felt like all the cards were stacked against me.
Dwight Morrow High School and the Academies at Englewood was my escape. I felt the opportunity at our school like I have never felt in my whole life. With a new beginning, I was seen as equal, and not just the “poor” girl. For the past 4 years, I was given the opportunity to learn, see new perspectives, solve social problems, see the world beyond my home, and find my passions. Ms. Aronson believed in me like no one ever has, and truly showed me the road to succeed and conquer the challenges I was facing at home. During Robotics and Technology Students Association meetings Mr. Sherry gave me the resources to finally put my engineering mindset into action. The whole DMAE community supported me through my academic and activist ventures, and I will always be indebted to the way this school helped me.
Because of my time here, I was given the opportunity to be a QuestBridge Scholar and Jack Kent Cooke Scholar at Columbia University with a full-ride scholarship, and the honor to be your Academies at Englewood Salutatorian for the Class of 2021. I was able to find my passion for biomedical engineering and social activism, and most importantly, devoting my life to solving the world’s problems and to bettering humanity.
My time here made all my mother’s, father’s and brother’s struggles worth it. All the times we couldn’t afford to keep our heat or electricity on taught me how there are injustices and problems in this world we must solve, and I have our school and our community to thank. To the entire faculty and the Class of 2021, I say thank you for truly changing my life and allowing a girl who was trapped by disadvantages to break free.