Throughout my childhood, people frequently asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” At the age of 5, the common answer I gave was, “I want to be a superhero.” After years of watching Spiderman, The Incredibles, and Power Rangers, it seemed that saving the world from incoming meteors and the likes of the menacing Doctor Octopus was the most respectable and glorious occupation a child could aspire for.
By the time I turned 10, I wanted to be a movie star. When I realized halfway through my sixth grade class’s dress rehearsal of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that my acting was pitiful, it became clear that it wasn’t for me. I began to search for other opportunities, and eventually found myself working the technologically-advanced light board and backstage rigging at my school’s performing arts center - a position I loved so much that I would still enjoy doing it to this day. Technology seemed quite imminent in my future. I had always known much more about computers than my peers, and it seemed that my knowledge would only increase in value as I grew older. Even now, at the age of 16, I know that the future is unpredictable, that so many things may change, but I will try to stay true to what I believe is my calling.
Nevertheless, I do know that my short-term goal is to attend college. Growing up in war-era Vietnam, my parents and the vast majority of my extended family never had the opportunities for education that I have today. Education was simply not one of the priorities of the post-war government, so my parents barely finished high school before becoming part of the workforce. By attending college, I would be the first in my family to do so. Not only would it provide me with the resources I need to achieve my goals, but it would also allow me to set an example and become a role model - not only for my younger sister, but also for all of my younger cousins.
In the long run, I hope to be successful and to do something that will allow me to make a difference in the world, whether it be writing programs to operate the machinery necessary to cure cancer, or just writing an algorithm to end traffic jams once and for all. Being successful, to me, means having a job that both pays well and makes me happy. I heard a quote once that has stuck with me to this day: “Hard work isn’t hard if you enjoy it.” I aim to get a job that involves doing something I love so that I will not be reluctant to wake up when my alarm goes off every morning, allowing me to easily support my family financially.
My parents have always told me stories about how horrible the conditions were in Vietnam because of the government’s neglect of its own citizens. The population struggled to find jobs, and those who could usually ended up immigrating to the United States to start a better life. When the Vietnamese people left their homeland in hopes of a better future, they left behind many family members that they would not see again until many years later.