A Powerful Personal Statement by a Schuler Scholar

This personal statement encapsulates the type of students we work with in the Schuler Scholar Program. Nancy is one of the most inspirational young women I have met in my entire career. She is a sophomore at Beloit College in Wisconsin.

She walks down the center of the ballroom making her grand entrance as everybody turns to look at her. She feels like a queen. She is the only one shining. The smile on her face is contagious. Her “Chambelanes,” (escorts) kneel down in her honor. Her father waits for her in the center of the dance floor as it is now time for the father daughter dance. He gives her “La Ultima Muñeca,” (her last doll). Her Grandmother places the traditional crown on her head and her mother cries. She approaches her daughter holding a pair of high heeled shoes that she will give her in exchange for her flats, thus completing the transformation. Her family and friends witness this metamorphosis. According to her culture, she is now officially a woman.

The Fiesta, the doll, and the crown are every Latina girl’s dream. This was my dream, but this was not the way it happened.

I remember when my mom and I were in the boutique ordering my dress, it was a lilac color with silver stones, and it was perfect. I was turning fifteen and the oldest of five siblings. My youngest sister was turning four months old and it was at this time that she was diagnosed with epilepsy. The diagnosis of her illness changed our lives and impacted mine in a profound way. I knew my mom would need my help. I had to be there for her, to support her through hospital visits and overnight stays. I went prepared because I had many roles to embrace, that of a sister, a daughter and a student. I brought my homework along just in case one of those visits turned out to be a long night. Being the eldest of five daughters, like a Quinceañera after her transformation, I had to change my girl shoes into a young woman’s high heels as I now walked a path with many responsibilities. My journey from childhood to maturity began here. 

According to the ancient Aztec customs, fifteen was the age when many women left their family home to become wives and mothers. This is what an ancient culture believed.  Today’s society has set different standards. Two of my oldest cousins became pregnant, I did not want to follow this same path. I want to make a difference, to break that cycle. “We are in the land of opportunity,” I told myself and it is time to put a positive twist to the traditional waltz, to replace some of the “moves” and create a new dance. Though my sister’s illness sometimes made me feel sad and my cousins’
disappointing actions embarrassed my family, I continued my dance around the negative
comments, and gossip from many people. I want to shine on my dance floor, to direct my
own spotlight.

The women in my family never had the opportunities that I have had. Most of them did not finish high school, since they had to work and help support their families. I want to change all this. I want to show them that there is always a possibility to accomplish what seems impossible.

I have gone through many obstacles, from the responsibilities at home to the endless hours dedicated to my school work. Yet with patience and determination, I know that I can manage to overcome anything. Becoming a Schuler Scholar was the best gift in my life’s ceremony. It changed me as a student and supported my determination to succeed. I am proud of the Scholar I am and the person I have become because of my strong character and my sense of conviction. I’ve grown through the years. I am changing from that young girl to a responsible young adult with every right decision I make. My family now witnesses a change in our generation. I will be the first in my family to graduate high school and go on to college. I will become the first lawyer in my family and I will win many cases. I know deep in my heart it doesn’t take a fancy dress to be successful.

I did not have the Quinceañera of my dreams– my life has been my Quinceañera.


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