I am very excited that I will be starting my PhD Program at Columbia University, Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics program, in the fall of 2017. I was also chosen as one of the NSF Graduate Research Fellow for this year.
I remember crying happy tears when I found out about the fellowship. I came a long way to become who I am today. When I first came to America, speaking minimal English, I never imagined that I could achieve such great honor in my life. I attended a below average high school, and then a below average college, because I was not able to afford better. When I got into UT Austin and UIUC, but could only attend UT Tyler and UT Dallas, I thought my life would not get any better because my starting point was so low. But I kept fighting and trying to shine among my peers. I obtained various research opportunities and was the leader of a few student organizations. I am glad that NSF was able to recognized my potential and rewarded me this fellowship.
When I browsed online and see other fellows’ profiles, most of them are from prestigious undergraduate schools, and then there’s me from UT Dallas, I was very proud that I fought my way through to be amongst the same list of people from much better backgrounds. I experienced the same thing at Columbia’s visit day, when everyone introduced themselves, I noticed that many of them were from MIT, Caltech, as well as the Ivies. UT Dallas was among a couple of lesser known state schools there. I am grateful that the admission committee recognized my strong will of success and provide me with the chance of studying at such an established school and program.
Moving from coast to coast is a bit terrifying, but I am excited about the life ahead of me. Getting a PhD has always been what I wanted to do, and NYC is full of opportunities for further career development. I am eternally grateful for everyone who has helped me to become the way I am today, and I will one day be helping younger generations to achieve their dreams.