Sunday, August 9, 2009

Rise of the underdog

SJP alumni chat about their challenges and success with the college application process during an alumni panel discussion with the SJP 2009 group. (Photo Credit: Brain Rokus '99).
By Valerie Briseno (Laredo, Texas)

It was all a dream to me. I couldn’t believe I actually made it into the program. Even through the first few intense days of the program, I just couldn’t fully understand why or how I got chosen.

I felt like the underdog, not to mention very intimidated. The panel discussion with the SJP alumni was what really opened my eyes up and helped me realize I got to where I am because of my hard work and dedication.

I, like some of the other alumni, come from a low-performing high school. And, even with all the interruptions at school, I’ve strived to do the best and improve my abilities as much as possible. Living in a city that practically no one has heard of and being Hispanic plays a role in shaping expectations about my future success and their lack of belief in my abilities. When others don't believe in you, it's hard to believe in yourself.

I felt like many of the panelists in that I never thought that I could get into an Ivy League school such as Princeton because I wasn’t good enough for it. I was scared of having the directors and counselors disappointed in me if I didn’t get in. It was in my mindset that, no matter how good I thought I was, I wasn’t going to get accepted into a prestigious university.

The alumni, however, helped me understand that I wasn’t the only one that felt insecure. The panel answered so many of the questions I had, and somehow, helped me become more confident. I realize, now, that if you don’t believe in yourself no one else will believe in you.

Thanks to the alumni I know I can get anywhere I want to by simply dedicating myself and being confident about myself.

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