My parents immigrated to the US from Taiwan in the late sixties and eventually settled in Southern California. My dad was an engineer and my mom was a nurse. They worked hard and saved money to invest in a small multi-family property that over time they would trade for more units. My parents also bought and flipped the homes we lived in which dictated where we lived and went to school. By the time I was in junior high we had settled into a permanent home and my sisters and I into the Garden Grove Unified School District.
Freshman year of high school l I became ambitious. Nobody pushed me, it just happened. After a childhood of not fitting in and prejudiced taunting (Hey Chink, Jap, Slanty-Eyes, etc.), I finally found my groove in academics. It was like a button was pressed and I just started to Go. I chose the hardest classes, piled on a wide-range of extra-curricular activities, furiously practiced the piano, and pushed myself to acquire leadership positions to assemble the strongest college application possible for admittance into a prestigious university. Since my high school was not particularly competitive and my relentless effort not the norm, I was rewarded with straight A’s. And so I pushed myself more. I excelled academically and earned numerous department awards. I took the maximum number of A.P units. I placed in piano competitions and studied abroad. I lead community service projects and participated in academic competitions. I joined numerous clubs (many of which I had no interest in or talent for) knowing it would look impressive on my college application. All my hard work culminated at the end of my senior year with one particularly thick envelope in the mailbox: I got into Stanford.