My eyes slowly opened to the morning light, peeking through my window. I slowly awakened to the realization that this is it. Graduation day. I hopped off my bed and jumped into the shower. Mid-shampoo, I think about how far I’ve come since elementary school, the very beginning. Even then, I knew I was academically proficient. I enjoyed learning and going to school. This pattern continued into middle school. It wasn’t until high school that academics became challenging for me. Now I couldn’t just learn, I also had to do well in what I learned for my future. At this point, everything was for my future. I longed to have a career in psychology and the only way it seemed for me to do that was to excel in school no matter what. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always done well in school, my only dilemma was the competitiveness of my high school. Nearly everyone did well in school; my goal was to stand out and display my uniqueness academically. Through four years of emotional and academic struggles in schoolwork, clubs, and sports, the time finally arrived for me to prove my uniqueness to a couple of schools that would push me further into reaching my career goal. With blood, sweat and tears, I did it and even proved it to the school of my dreams: Stony Brook University. At first, it was difficult. New curriculum, more homework, more independence and more responsibility. The work was overwhelming and keeping up with so many classes stressed me out as I wasn’t used to managing everything so quickly. Because of the PAL system through scholars, PASC, tutoring, Hall Council, my many clubs and newfound friends, I was able to maintain stellar grades with a smile on my face. That’s what academic and personal success means to me. Being proud of all the hard work that you’ve done despite the struggles to get the place where you are now. Now, I’m here. Graduation day.