It’s to boarding school. I’m trudging up

It’s the dead of January. Beads of perspiration collect at my forehead. I’m waddling up a snowy hill at boarding
school in an over-sized jacket that looks like it belongs more to Tenzing Norgay on his summits to Mount Everest
or to Neil Armstrong in the frigidity of space. Not familiar with the weather in New England, my mom packs for
Antarctica. Still, I fancy myself an explorer. As frigid air wicks the sweat on my face, I feel the rush of adventure –
the possibility of failure, but also spectacular discovery.
My world is one of dazzling contrast.
I am the descendant of generations of farm workers in California’s Central Valley. I grew up on a military base in
the Mojave Desert. There is no lush vegetation, no breathtaking skyline, and little water. The only clouds in sight
are the clouds of dust that careen their way through creosote bushes and sand. The sun beats down on my
hometown and covers the 1950’s Quonset huts of my school in a blanket of dry heat. At night, when you look up at
the stars from a dirt road, you are treated to a sensation I can only describe as falling into a galaxy. I hold up star
guides with cold hands against the backdrop of Mojave skies with a sense of pure, unfettered wonder.
I live over 100 miles from the nearest city. I drive 5 hours to a science fair that no one from home has heard of. I
build my own telescope. I fill over fourteen journals. I build radios in the garage. When there is no one to show me
how, I fight for every opportunity to explore what excites me.
I move across the country to boarding school. I’m trudging up a metaphorical hill in weather I was never quite
prepared for: a desert kid caught in a blizzard. My eyes still sparkle for the subjects I love. I have sturdy boots that
have never failed me. I believe in myself against spectacular, irrational, odds.
I never forget where I come from. I never forget the hours spent searching the internet for opportunities. I never
forget creating the ones that didn’t exist. I step back and forth between two communities that, at times, seem
worlds apart. I begin a science research group at my new school to help other kids like me find resources to grow,
and inspire them to take advantage of each one. I believe that the greatest usage of one’s life is to build something
that will outlast it.
I keep building.
The mountains ahead call. The cold is nipping my oversized-coat, but I don’t notice. It is the challenge that excites
my spirit. My world is one of rural desert towns and snowy hills, of public school and boarding school, of journals
and telescopes, of taking and giving back. What seems a series of impossible contradictions gives rise to the very
determination and grit I bring to everything I do.