We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofSusmita Gurung

I used to be a quiet and insecure student. I remember my friends talking about attending university. There were discussing the classes at our local college, North Dakota State University. Since it is a public university and more expensive than community college, it was impossible for me to think about going there. But, since my friends were talking about the school, I was curious. I started researching the courses it offered. I also went on a college tour to see the campus. The college looked big and fancy with lots of space and it had a refreshing atmosphere. I liked it. It was also highly ranked among other schools in the nation. During the tour, I also saw students of different ethnicities. I was inspired and felt the urge to go to there after seeing the diversity.  When I moved to the United States, I didn’t know English fluently, and I was afraid to communicate with my peers. I had a question constantly buzzing around in my mind. _Will I ever get accepted into a good university? _As the days passed, the language wasn’t my struggle anymore. My English skills grew, and I felt more comfortable speaking. Since I belonged to a low-in- come family, I always made sure to keep my expectations low. Financially, my parents were not stable enough to afford the basic things we needed.  Being a refugee was not something I chose. I was living in a place where it was impossible to survive. My grandparents always wanted me to become a successful nurse. Being a nurse was also my dream, and this was one of the reasons why I was happy to be in the United States.  Even though I made up my mind to attend the local university, I doubted it would happen, because I did not have enough money. So, I started working at Walmart and saving money for my future. When I found out about financial aid, I frequently visited my counselor to discuss my options. Although my grades and GPA were all excellent, my ACT score was low. My counselor suggested that I should look for scholarship opportunities. I was frustrated because almost all scholarships were asking for an average ACT score.  During a project for my English class, I started to gain more hope for my future. I wrote about my personal experiences that I faced coming to America and then I shared it in front of a public audience. Soon after, my teacher encouraged me to submit the story for a contest, and I won! This gave me so much confidence and I started to believe in myself even more.  I went to the counseling center at my school to investigate scholarship opportunities, and found a scholarship from Concordia College, for those who came from different countries. I applied but didn’t get the scholarship. I even blamed myself for being born as a refugee. I decided not to go to college after high school. I figured it was a sign and I was very depressed.  Unexpectedly, I ended up receiving an academic scholarship from Concordia College for four years. My mom couldn’t believe that her daughter received a scholarship and was now able to achieve her goal. Even though I was fighting many obstacles, I still challenged myself and pushed through.  I believe in the power of faith. Faith consists of believing when it is beyond logical reason to believe. I’m the oldest child in my family and I have two younger siblings. I will be the first child to graduate from high school in my family, and I will also be part of the first generation to attend college. 

© Susmita Gurung. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.