I came to America when I was just three years old and every single memory I have was made here. I did not understand how my status, or lack thereof, affected my life for many years. My parents did not want me to know. I did not understand the grief my parents felt after receiving every denial letter for citizenship.
I continued to live my life, make friends, go to school, everything any kid does, but eventually, i grew up. I came to understand the position I was in. And I knew, well I hoped, that education would be my way out. Excelling in school has always been my priority, and fortunately I have been blessed to be recognized for that. I think, silly as it is, two of my most prized possessions are my two President’s awards, both signed by former President Bush. Funny thing, these President’s Awards. They let me know that my achievements are valued. That they make me an asset to America. That they make me American.
But, when it all comes down to it, I guess there’s a certain group of people who have decided that I am not American. That I am not enough. That my achievements do not matter because I have, unfortunately, had three less years in America than my peers. But I am here to say the opposite. That my achievements do matter! That I am enough! That I am American! And to any of you who are in my shoes, I want to let you know that you do matter and you are enough, and one day we will be recognized. This is not to say that I have everything figured out; I am still struggling with myself to come to terms with my position in America. I know that I am American, but it kills me to know that many do not consider that to be true. So maybe that’s why I’m writing this.
As a pre-med freshman at UCLA, I believe I am already on my way in achieving the American Dream. Yes, education has gotten me this far, but citizenship will let me have my hopes and dreams. And that is what being an American is: having countless hopes and dreams and being able to achieve each one. Because in the end, what is a country? Nothing but man-made geographical borders. But America? America is so much more. America is a concept of freedom and achievement. And I am an American because I have grown up with these concepts.