It was getting steeper and steeper, and my heart started pounding faster with each little step that I took. My tired legs were weakening and dragging me back. I slid with each tenuous step and kept wishing my shoes would give me a better grip. I reached for the railings beside me and swore never to look back down the steep slopes of the largest marble found on earth, The Ayers Rock near Alice Springs, Australia. I was in Australia as an exchange student and the school had organized a three day tour for all the exchange students. I recalled the spontaneity with which I volunteered when the tour guide had asked us if anybody was willing to climb the rock and repented every moment of it. Apparently there was a superstition among the Aborigines that an Iceman existed at the peak of the rock and that he would chastise anyone who ascends it. Not one to abide by something that was beyond logic, and encouraged by my previous trekking experience in the Northern Himalayas, I decided to take on the challenge. And what followed was an experience I would never forget.
Halfway through the initial climb, my bravado abandoned me and I contemplated going back. But as I cautiously looked down, making sure my neck was the only part of my body that turned; I felt that the way down looked scarier than the way up. And then there was my conscience that kept egging me on towards accomplishing something that very few have been able to. When I couldn't battle with it any longer, I gave into it. With a half empty water bottle and a soul strengthened with courage and vigour, I continued the climb.
A number of strenuous steps later, I saw the railings end and thought I was at the top - only to discover a little longer that it was but a mirage. I still had a long way to go, and I didn't know whether to feel happy about the fact that the gradient was no longer steep, or sad about the fact that the railings had ended and there was nothing to hold on to. I
Describe a significant setback, challenge, or opportunity in your life
I consider a challenge as an objective that I have to reach for a dream. During all my lifetime, challenges have been important to me because they taught me to have discipline in my work and never give up in difficult situations. The greatest challenge that I have made was to overcome the difficulties of the language in the . When I was studying at , I had always the dream to study in an important university in the . For that dream, I took an important decision that later shaped the way of my life: study in to find an opportunity to get to an important university as UT Austin is. When I came to the , I had a problem with the English language. The opportunities were there so everyone could get a place in any important university. However, I knew that to get those opportunities I had to study more than a normal student to improve my English proficiency and therefore try to achieve those opportunities. After taking the challenge, I talked with my counselor asking her how I can prepare to get in an important university. She told me that it’s difficult to get in but not impossible and it requires a great effort from me. She told me that I would begin from the lowest English level because I was not prepared to take challenging classes. During that time I struggled to learn a new language but it was necessary because with that plan I could learn more. I started to learn the basic grammar, sentences structure, reading comprehension, and writing. I started to read books to learn more words and I started to talk with people that don’t speak my language. After those painful months, I had improved my English proficiency but it was not enough to be in challenging classes. Suddenly, I realized that if I want to be competitive, to be a better citizen, to be a better Hispanic, and to defeat my challenge, I have to take risks by taking the challenging classes no matter if I haven’t a high English proficiency. Although some challenging classes weren’t hard, there was a class that I considered was the hardest class that I have had: AP US History. The first months in that class were hard because a student in that class was expected to read and write in a higher level than a normal student so it was difficult to get used at that rhythm. Although I struggled with topics, I began to see improvement in my work thanks to my consistency to get a good grade. When I took the AP US History exam, my improvement was made and my achievement was reached because I passed the test and I get the probability to get college credit. This goal was really significant because not only I passed the test but also I improved my English proficiency to a high level. Today, being in the top 10% of a great competitive class, achieving a great English proficiency and being the Spanish honor society vice-president have been the most important achievements at this time thanks not only to my hard work, determination, and tenacity but also for taking a great challenge to reach a dream.