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to the 2019 essay winner...



California State University, Fullerton

Major: Biology

Newport Harbor High School, Class of 2019


Sakay's essay exemplifies The Wall POV's quest to cultivate a profound connection between writer and reader.  This connection is largely due to the writer's ability to reflect and express an experience - intimately inviting a stranger, known as the reader, into one's world and personal point of view.

2019 Writing Prompt:

​Describe a situation when you’ve experienced or witnessed adversity, and how did it affect your decision or goal of pursuing higher education?

Read Sakay's winning essay below

It is September 7, 2015, and my family is walking fast in the airport. We don’t want to miss the call to board my flight from Mexico City to Tijuana. As we approach the last security check, I stop and look at my parents. They look so humble in this big city. Their faces read pain and a sense of urgency. I stare long and hard, memorizing every wrinkle on my mother's face and the calluses on my father’s hands from the job that fed my sister and me for years. Yet, next thing I know I have left my luggage in my spot in line for revision and I can’t let go of my mom. I grip her shirt so hard I stop feeling the tips of my fingers. I take in her scent and her warmth as it will be a very long time before I feel her touch again. My face has suddenly become so hot and my tears only make my hair stick to my face. I don’t ever want to let go.

The reality has just settled in my mind: I am leaving my family behind in Mexico and going to live with my aunt in the US for my high school journey. I am a US citizen; however, my parents are not. My departure is the only way I can complete my education. For the next four years, I will come home to a family that is not my own. I will not be able to say “Bye mom” or “Bye dad” whenever I leave. I won’t be able to say “Happy Birthday!” to my sister. I will miss out on the joy of having family Christmas's and the smile that will spread from ear to ear on my parent’s face as they have the “Happy birthday” song sung to them. Life will be lonely and I must accept it, at the age of 14.

I left my family behind in the treacherous and dangerous land of Mexico

I left my father driving a taxi car every day to pay the bills and personal expenses when we all know that he could get kidnapped and killed at any time for simply driving. Yet no one would look me in the eyes with so much pride in their heart like him even through difficult times. I left my mother alone in our big house with no one to talk but the flowers in her garden. No one will hug me tight and warm like her before I went to school. I left my sister without any advice about puberty and boy drama. No one will look up to me with so much respect and admiration as my sister.

It all sinks in at some point. I left a lot of things. I departed my family so that one day I can come home and hand them my high school diploma and my college degree. I departed so I could receive the best possible education and one day bring them back to the US legally.

Unlike the average teenager that says they “hate” their parents or wishes they could move out, I wish I had my parents with me. I wish I could tell my mom about my day in person rather than over the phone. I wish my parents could come to all the Back to School Nights and meet my teachers. There are so many things that I wish I could change, but I can’t. Now, every day I wake up, look at myself in the bathroom mirror and say, “This will be worth it.”

This year's Willow Tree Scholarship is now open.  To review the new essay prompt and apply, click here.

2019 Special Thanks
Browning, J.S.
Ha-Martinez, T.
Kim, S.
Law, D.
Le, J.
Mai, T.
Martinez, M.
Martinez, S.
Nguyen, A.
Nguyen, P.
Pham, E.
Pham, J.
Silva, K.
Tran, H.
Vuong, Q.
Vu, D.
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