Throughout all the years of my life I don’t believe I have dedicated so much time on letting myself deeply self-reflect on who I am as an intellectual being and why I am the way I am. Maybe it’s because I never saw an importance in taking the time for self-reflection or maybe simply because I wasn’t introduced to it during school like today. Either way, I have finally taken the time to allow true,authentic reflection to happen within me which has allowed me to become more in tune with myself. I have found out which values and morals I’ve been carrying along with me unconsciously throughout my intellectual journey and more importantly, life. In addition, I’ve taken the time to find out my most influential and impactful experiences in my life that have left me intellectual scars which helped me transform into the person I am today. I’ve learned that I am always transforming intellectually and that can be in either minor or major changes.
being. My town is home to nearly 46,000 people and it is predominantly Mexican American . Growing up in El Sereno I was surrounded by quite a few first generation citizens and first generation college students. This special type of community influenced me in ways that can’t be easily replicated in different communities. For instance, the apartment complex I grew up in is what gave me the opportunity to meet new people that come from a similar type of background as me. My friend Joshua was my neighbor and seeing the financial struggles they faced showed me I wasn’t the only one going through a hardship and that I was still in a position where I was more fortunate than others. Also, although his family wasn’t in the greatest position, they were always caring towards me and my siblings. This realization was pivotal in building my motivation to strive for success in life through specifically aiming to attend school(s) of higher education such as a University. This was mainly because I didn’t want to see myself or most importantly, my family, stuck in this endless cycle of financial distress that the majority of my community faces. I wanted to find a way out of the financial hardships within my family and I felt like school was the key to my goal. I believe that I am destined to do great things in life and make a name for myself, and I want to be able to give back to my community because I know how much in need my town is in. I want to give back to my community because I know it has the chance to encourage others to do something impactful and meaningful and that was something that was missing when I was growing up. This has caused me to keep my community in the back of my mind when I’ve been on my journey to accomplishing my goals.
Just as my City has been crucial in shaping who I have become as an intellectual being, so as football. A great majority of my life-shaping, influential life lessons have been through the sport of football. As I look back to my poem “Dear Football” , I wrote “You showed me what can be done as long as I stay diligent and disciplined…You broke me down physically and mentally yet .You built me up strong.” Throughout the 12 years of playing football, I learned through first-hand experience how my endless hours of hard-work will pay off but it may take time. This patience is needed because without it I wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice my free time to perfect my craft. During the summers of my junior and senior year of high school , a great amount of my personal time was dedicated to improving my skill set hoping to get noticed and hopefully offered a scholarship. I would go to my local park with a group of my teammates and we would practice our offensive plays and work on our defensive techniques. Although it took quite some time for my hard-work and dedication to show results, it was worth it. Two months of practicing was finally able to be displayed against my opponents which is what ultimately revealed my improvement. I saw a significant amount of improvement in my offensive and defensive performance that I had never experienced before. For example, my junior season of football I recorded 12 interceptions in a single season which is my personal best and I led in total interceptions throughout my division. At the end of the season I was honored by being placed on the All-City 1st team defensive team which is an award for the best defensive players throughout the division 2 city schools of Los Angeles. This experience was highly educational as it literally showed me that I am capable of polishing myself whether it be for personal development/growth or for the game of football. . As long as I stay focused on my goals, I will reap the benefits of my hard work, patience, and determination.
Ultimately, these skills and habits that I have developed through football have been transferable to most aspects of my life. It significantly transferred into the classroom to the point where I was dedicating more time to studying and attending after school tutoring sessions to receive extra help. These traits that were founded through football, have brought me to where I am today. I am at the University of Southern California because football taught me I can get accepted into a highly competitive university as long as I work towards it diligently and patiently. My hard-work from being a part of the USC NAI program for 7 long years(6th grade up until 12th grade) paid off at the end of my senior year when I found out I got accepted into my dream school. Despite football revealing to me the benefits of my hard-work, football has also played a huge factor in developing my character and strong mentality.
As quoted in the previous paragraph, football “broke” me down physically and mentally yet it managed to simultaneously “build” me up. As I reminisce about my time in football, I always find myself reflecting back on the harsh and gruesome practices that my teammates and I would endure. I still remember the summer days of my high school practice where our coaches were focusing on our conditioning. These were honestly the worst of times as I was constantly being pushed to my limit. There were days during practice where my legs literally had a deep burning sensation, and I would just want to drop to the floor and give up. However, I would continue to push through the harsh conditioning because I knew it was only going to make me a better player and most importantly, it’ll help develop who I become as an intellectual and as a person overall. As an intellectual I had the mindset that it is okay to encounter academic struggles as long as I persevere through them because it will lead to personal growth and knowledge gained. For instance, my senior year of high school was the most challenging for me as I was taking 4 AP classes while in sports but I continued to fight diligently because in the end it’s going to be worth it when I’m in college. Also, when I see my report card I would get a sense of relief and happiness because my grades are a reflection of my diligence, strong mentality, and character. As my life will continue on beyond football, my mindset and traits that I originally built will now be practiced throughout other parts of my intellectual journey.
Although the city of El Sereno and football have played a huge role in developing who I am as intellectual, I have also been highly influenced by my grandpa and what he has accomplished in Mexico. Growing up, my family and I would go down to Mexicali, Mexico regularly to visit my great grandparents. Visiting Mexicali wasn’t always something I looked forward to mostly because I didn’t have any relatives that were my age and my spanish isn’t strong, so I felt like I had trouble building a genuine connection with my relatives that I rarely see. Also, I didn’t enjoy going because my great grandparents’ home was very small, crowded, and torn up. However, in a way, that house has symbolized my family and me. In my Haiku“House Transformation” I wrote “ Once a torn up home, Slowly became full of life, Through hot endless days.” My grandpa and his brother made the decision to renovate my grandparents’ home and it slowly started to come together. What just started as simply installing new carpet and tiles led to the construction of 6 additional bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and a second floor patio[I added a photo of the house at the bottom of the essay]. This has symbolized my family because my days as a kid I grew up in an apartment that was small and not in such good condition, but now me and my family have a home we truly love. Also, it was a symbolization of my grandparents’ life as they came to the U.S with as little as nothing and now they live comfortably in San Diego while still having the house in Mexicali. My grandpa’s hard-work and grit inspired me and truly led to my growth mindset.
Visiting Mexicali and being able to see the stages the house underwent and seeing it being brought to life was very impactful. I saw my grandpa make my great grandma’s dream a reality through his non-stop hard work and determination. He explained to me how important it was for him to give his mom a house that she can love, and it has to be done quickly because my nana’s time here with us wasn’t looking too promising in the future. Day in and day out in the blistering heat of Mexicali I would see my grandpa and his brother outside tearing down walls to create bigger rooms and to make more space. Occasionally my grandpa would let me help by letting me complete the simple tasks such as : painting, unscrewing nails, and carrying the light materials to whatever room was getting worked on. I was observing my grandpa and his brother transform a torn up 2 bedroom home into a 3 story home that my nana loved. This was extremely fascinating to me as my grandpa never went to school to learn engineering or construction. My grandpa was simply an immigrant merchandiser.This ultimately helped cultivate my growth mindset as I learned that I am capable of learning new topics even if they’re rigorous just like my grandpa did. Being in the construction environment is what truly inspired me to become a civil engineer. I grew fascinated with the idea of being capable of creating structures and knowing I can have the ability to create my desired house as always stuck with me.
My growth mindset has been a part of my intellectual journey as it helped me get through rough classes such as AP Calculus. I was struggling with grasping the content of AP Calculus as I was easily getting confused and learned that it was mainly due to my foundational algebra skills needing improvement. Instead of just giving up and thinking that I couldn’t deveolp the necessary math skills for AP Calculus I looked for resources that can help enhance my skill set. For instance, I would use Khan Academy as a teaching resource and for practice problems in order to practice my algebra skills which made completing and understanding my AP Calculus material easier. In addition, I would go to my USC NAI tutoring sessions after school in order to receive guidance from my tutors. In the end, my growth mindset has contributed tremendously to where I am today. Without it I wouldn’t have had the desire of becoming a civil engineer because I wouldn’t be willing to take such a rigorous major that will inevitably bring me struggles and problems where I feel completely stuck and stumped.
To conclude, my intellectual journey consists of many values and lessons that I have been educational and transformative to me personally. My community , my football experiences, and my incredible grandpa have influenced me intellectually in major ways. My community boosted my motivation to receive a higher education and through football I learned how to stay committed and patient. My grandpa helped cultivate my growth mindset through the renovation of my great grandma’s home. Overall, my influences are what got me to where I am today as an intellectual and as I continue through life it will start to be influenced by different things.