I am glad I didn't abandon the superficial me, but instead acknowledged her, and stood by her to take her on an enlightening and rewarding journey. Cosmetics led me to dig deeper into scientific inquiry, helped me develop an impassioned voice, and became a tool to connect me with others. Together, I've learned that the beauty of a meaningful journey lies in getting lost for it was in the meandering that I found myself.
Transformers are not just for boys. I loved these amazing robots that could transform into planes and cars the first time I saw them in the toy store.
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The boys had all the samples, refusing to let me play with one. When I protested loudly to my mother, she gently chided me that Transformers were ugly and unfeminine. She was wrong. I joined the robotics team in a desperate attempt to find a community, though I doubted I would fit into the male-dominated field. Once I used physics to determine gear ratio, held a drill for the first time, and jumped into the pit to fix a robot, I was hooked. I went back to China that summer to bring robotics to my friends. I asked them to join me in the technology room at my old school and showed them how to use power tools to create robot parts.
I pitched my idea to the school principal and department heads.
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By the time I left China, my old school had a team. Throughout the next year, I guided my Chinese team-only one of three that existed in the country-with the help of social media. I returned to China a year later to lead my team through their first Chinese-hosted international competition. Immediately upon arrival to the competition, I gave the Chinese head official important documents for urgent distribution. I knew all the Chinese teams would need careful instructions on the rules and procedures.
I was surprised when the competition descended into confusion and chaos. I decided to create another source of knowledge for my fledgling robotics teams. It took me several weeks to create a sharing platform that students could access through the firewall. On it, I shared my experience and posted practical practice challenges. I received hundreds of shares and had dozens of discussion questions posted.
When a head official reached out to my Canadian mentors, warning them to stop my involvement with the Chinese teams, I was concerned. When a Chinese official publicly chastised me on a major robotics forum, I was heartbroken. They made it clear that my gender, my youth, and my information sharing approach was not what they wanted. I considered quitting.
But so many students reached out to me requesting help. I wanted to end unnecessary exclusion. I worked to enhance access to my platform.
I convinced Amazon to sponsor my site, giving it access to worldwide high-speed servers. Although I worried about repercussions, I continued to translate and share important documents. During the busy building season, my platform is swamped with discussions, questions and downloads. I have organized a group of friends to help me monitor the platform daily so that no question or request is left unanswered. Some of my fears have come true: I have been banned from several Chinese robotics forums.
I am no longer allowed to attend Chinese robotics competitions in China as a mentor. The Chinese government has taken down my site more than once. Robotics was my first introduction to the wonderful world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
I am dedicated to the growth of robotics in places where it is needed and wanted. I have used my hands and mind to tear down all barriers that separate people, no matter gender or nationality, from the inspiration and exploration of STEM. As a non-Catholic in a Catholic school, I knew I had to be cautious in expressing my opinion on the abortion debate.
However, when I saw that all of the armband-bearing students were male, I could not stay silent. Some of my peers expressed support but others responded by calling me a dumb bitch, among other names. One by one, I responded. I was glad to have sparked discussion, but by midnight, I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. But instead, they told me to remove the post and to keep quiet, given the audience.
I refused to remove the post, but decided to stay silent. I gradually began to realize that refusing to conform to the conventions of society is what propels us toward equality. As a junior coach, I spend my Monday and Thursday afternoons with middle school girls, running, singing Taylor Swift songs, discussing our daily achievements I got on my math test! The girls celebrate their accomplishments and talk about themselves positively, fully expressing their self-esteem.
I want to fight for social justice in the courtroom. Wake up!
It's late already. We were supposed to open the restaurant earlier that day. Sometimes, they needed me to be the cashier; other times, I was the youngest waiter on staff. The restaurant took a huge toll on my parents and me. Working more than 12 hours every single day even holidays , I lacked paternal guidance, thus I had to build autonomy at an early age.
On weekdays, I learned to cook my own meals, wash my own clothes, watch over my two younger sisters, and juggle school work. We began working at 11pm all the way to 5am. So I started a list of goals. After two unsuccessful attempts, I got in. The rigorous eight months of training paid off as we defeated over international schools and lifted the 2nd Place cup; pride permeated throughout my hometown. Despite the euphoria brought by victory, my sense of stability would be tested again, and therefore my goals had to adjust to the changing pattern.
During the summer of , my parents sent me to live in the United States on my own to seek better educational opportunities. New responsibilities came along as I spent that summer clearing my documentation, enrolling in school, and getting electricity and water set up in our new home. In the midst of moving to a new country and the overwhelming responsibilities that came with it, I found an activity that helped me not only escape the pressures around me but also discover myself.
My 15 years in Mexico forged part of my culture that I just cannot live without. Trying to fill the void for a familiar community, I got involved with the Association of Latin American students, where I am now an Executive Officer. I proudly embrace the identity I left behind.
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The more I scratch off from my goals list, the more it brings me back to those days handling spatulas. I want to explore new paths and grow within my community to eradicate the prejudicial barriers on Latinos. So yes, this IS how I want to spend the rest of my life. A Chinese American with accented Chinese, a Florida-born Texan, a first generation American with a British passport: no label fits me without a caveat. I even spend my free time doing nonograms, grid-based logic puzzles solved by using clues to fill in seemingly random pixels to create a picture. It started when I was a kid.
One day, my dad captured my fickle kindergartner attention a herculean feat and taught me Sudoku. As he explained the rules, those mysterious scaffoldings of numbers I often saw on his computer screen transformed into complex structures of logic built by careful strategy. From then on, I wondered if I could uncover the hidden order behind other things in my life.
In elementary school, I began to recognize patterns in the world around me: thin, dark clouds signaled rain, the moon changed shape every week, and the best snacks were the first to go. I wanted to know what unseen rules affected these things and how they worked.
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My parents, both pipeline engineers, encouraged this inquisitiveness and sometimes tried explaining to me how they solved puzzles in their own work. In high school, I studied by linking concepts across subjects as if my coursework was another puzzle to solve. PEMDAS helped me understand appositive phrases, and the catalysts for revolutions resembled chemical isotopes, nominally different with the same properties. As I grew older, my interests expanded to include the delicate systems of biology, the complexity of animation, and the nuances of language.
I was and remain voracious for the new and unusual, spending hours entrenched in Wikipedia articles on obscure topics, i. Unsurprisingly, like pilot fish to their sharks, my career aspirations followed my varied passions: one day I wanted to be an illustrator, the next a biochemist, then a stand-up comedian. When it came to narrowing down the choices, narrowing down myself, I felt like nothing would satisfy my ever-fluctuating intellectual appetite.
But when I discovered programming, something seemed to settle.
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