Life challenges and how to overcome them

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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?

It has been my belief that I am the type of a person who excels at academics. Little did I know how fragile that ability to succeed was. The death of my grandfather plunged me into a long phase of depression, starting from the middle of my senior year in high school. As a result, my academics went on a downhill spiral. It was the first time that I had received a non-passing grade in my high school academic career, so much so that it hurt me from inside. My admission to University of California-Santa Barbara was rescinded. That made me feel like a failure and it was the lowest point of my life without a doubt. I felt like I had disappointed my parents and even worse, I had let myself down. For the next few years, I ended up spending towards build myself back up because failure was never an option in my mind. I went to the community college in order to restart and rebuild my academics. However, I thought I could do all this alone and did not seek professional help whatsoever. As a consequence, I could not muster the confidence to do well academically as I had wished for; because I felt completely crushed, found wanting at times and it became hard to motivate myself within school and the activities. Nevertheless, I pushed on and only took the amount of workload I could handle without crashing down ultimately. That meant taking lesser course units but at least I knew I would be able to handle it and essentially do well.  It was not until earlier this year that I took medical help from a psychiatrist which brought about a drastic change within my entirety. Through help, I have learnt to forgive myself for failing because I was my own worst critic. The past is the past, and I must look onto the future course to pursue my passion in the field of computer science. It is still hard but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I may never be completely cured but now I know not to let my depression get the better of me. For I am so much more. And my talent is yet to appear.

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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?

If one thing that I am sure about myself, I am very resilient. Even with my admission revoked back in the high school, my yearning for higher education did not end there. I felt discouraged and my spirit crushed but not continuing to seek higher level of academics has never crossed my mind. And despite depression, I pushed through in order to break the clutter within my mind – to achieve my end goals. My struggle with it has taught me to be more resilient towards the challenges, because I know how to find new perspectives and ways in achieving my goals. For example, because I know how much amount of intense class courses can worsen my depression conditions, I simply took less courses in order to ensure I do well in it; for I rather do well than potentially fail in all courses.  No matter what adversities I encounter, I know I can overcome them with solid resilience at my end.

If admitted as a student, I believe this trait can be of an asset to the university that I bring to the fore. When presented with problems, I will not shy away from them. Rather, I see it as an opportunity to learn, grow and develop. Just as I refuse to be reduced by my depression, I will not let any academic challenges or setbacks scare me away. And rather than rushing through to solve a problem as quickly as possible with a possibility of low comprehension, I am the type that will take a little more time to understand the problem to the minutest possible details. Since I like to maximize my learning experiences while minimizing the challenges that a problem poses, I find it interesting to move ahead with resilience. Although I wish I would never have to deal with depression, hitting rock bottom has allowed me to solidly rebuild my foundation. I came out stronger in spite of all this.

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

During the freshmen high school year, I joined Academic Decathlon, not expecting to accomplish much. Little did I know, I rose to become the club’s president and then the team captain by the time I was a senior. I never considered myself much of an inspiring leader. Leadership skills are not something I am born with, as it is something that I learned through experience of being one myself; through trial and error. Being on the job as a leader helped much. I was never the most charismatic leader but from my experience as the president of the club, I have found my style of leadership that fits me – I can bring people together and extract the best out of them in order to work towards a common goal. I became the president at a time when our incumbent coach decided to retire. With a new but inexperienced coach, I was expected to carry more of the club’s responsibilities and ensure that we succeed in competitions. It did not go down well at first especially after our dismal result in a scrimmage. I was leading like I did not care. As a result, the club’s morale was at an all-time low. That was the moment when I realized that I was assigned as my club mates’ leader to lead, not for the right to brag my title to universities.

Having said that I knew I have always been very good at lifting people up and connecting with them on a one on one basis. Hence I decided to apply this to my leadership style as well. Within no time, I established an environment where people felt at home, and each person mattered equally. I have managed to unite our club to where we felt like one big family. We spent long hours after school studying together and even cooked together. By the time our real competition came in, we managed to come second countywide, and qualified for an even bigger state competition. It was from this experience that I learned that when I make followers feel like they are part of something bigger, a vision can become reality. It is a skill that I hope I will be able to carry on within the real world.

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