Khadijah
Other than through classes in school, in what areas (nonacademic or academic) have you acquired knowledge or skills? How?

I have not prepared for college or life in the traditional manner. For almost all of my life, I have never had a place to call home. I have questioned why I have to struggle so hard to succeed while others do not have to question whether they will go to college. However, there is one thing I have never questioned: my education. My life and circumstances have given me life skills, that in turn, have helped make me into the driven and passionate student I am today.

I have lived in many types of shelters and motels throughout my life, and as a result, I have learned to be flexible, independent, resourceful, and driven in achieving my goals. Whenever I am hungry, I know where to find food. Whenever I am depressed and stressed, I know exactly where to go to calm down. I tune out the prostitutes who try to sway me towards their way of thinking and ignore the drug addict's plea to try just one drug. I have learned how to tune out the patronizing pimp that snorts, "You ain't college bound. You live in Skid Row!" I have learned not to show fear when I am walking home late at night, and I have learned how to remain alive with almost no money. By moving around and experiencing so much, I have learned to adapt to many different situations, go after and accomplish my goals, and most importantly, thrive.

Interestingly enough, my difficult life encouraged my passion for learning. The refuge I sought when I was at my most depressed was school. School was free, it was amazing, and it stimulated the intellectually curious side of me. I began to love school. However, shelters were temporary, and as a result, the schools I went to were temporary as well. In kindergarten, I did not notice too much. I simply learned my ABCs and found happiness in school. However, by the time I reached elementary school, I figured out that my way of life had messed with the thing I loved the most. I could not let that happen. One moment in third grade defined my path today.