It was a bittersweet moment to graduate from UC Berkeley.
I was initially denied admission, but when I appealed with a persuasive letter about my academics with references from teachers, I was finally accepted.
It took me five years to complete my undergraduate studies. At different points I lost financial aid. It wasn’t easy, and things even got to a point where I questioned my ability to finish school at all.
In my experience at Berkeley, it seems that the struggle getting to the finish line is a recurring theme. One of my closest friends couldn’t continue past his sophomore year because he couldn’t get the support he needed. A roommate my junior year also dropped out after struggling academically. Stories like these surrounded me my five years in college. It made the possibility of dropping out feel far too real.
Walking across that stage represented more than just completing my degree. For me, it was symbolic. I was never supposed to walk across that stage. I’d like to think that as I walked, I carried with me the hopes and dreams of those who never got the chance to finish school and graduate.