My mother is Russian, Italian, and Japanese. My maternal grandmother is full Japanese, and we have always been close; she also lives in the Bay Area. We have always spoken more Japanese than English. I am also close to my aunt in Sri Lanka and am already studying public health issues in that country in preparation for a visit. I take pride in the diversity of my background, mainly because my father is black and his family is from the US south, principally Mississippi and Atlanta.
While growing up multi-racial in the Bay Area is not so exceptional, my father took us to Mississippi to spend long periods with his family. That was indeed a most memorable multicultural experience. As a mostly Japanese black girl from the West Coast, I learned about racism and discrimination in Mississippi – where my grandmother drove a school bus - from black and white people. Attending an excellent and rigorous Catholic school taught me the importance of family and community values, giving me a solid moral foundation for college. Elected team captain of my basketball team for multiple years, we went to the state finals for the first time in school history during my senior year. Nearly half of my classmates had need-based, full scholarships, which helped me grow; I loved the stories I heard at school, told by those whose walks of community life were very different from mine. After finishing my undergraduate studies in Psychology and Public Health in Arizona, it was a relief to return to California's liberal, ‘high’ culture. I adore the Bay Area; the diversity of California is electrifying.
I became extremely ill in early April 2016 and was set to graduate that following month. I had two large blood clots in my lungs (pulmonary embolisms) and had to be in the hospital for a whole week. When discharged, I learned that I had to be on blood thinners for the rest of my life at age 22. This experience has made me dream of serving as a medical SW in a hospital, providing the counseling that might have helped me during this period. Soon, things got worse as I came down with pneumonia (the doctors said I probably got it at the hospital). This blew a gaping hole in my ability to study for finals as I wanted to. My graduation date was threatened. I buckled under and finished on time, and I am now fully recovered and gradually dropping the dosage of the blood thinners with my physician’s permission. My grades, however, took a significant hit. Nevertheless, I fell in love with my career after my first child welfare experience as an intern in the Investigations Unit. A social worker and I investigated an immediate referral regarding child abuse. This referral had a safety concern due to gang activity with guns in the home and connections to the Mexican Cartel.
We arrived on an unpaved, gravel, and dirt road and proceeded to find the address listed on the referral, a trailer home in shambles. An older woman answered the door. The trailer was very run-down children's rooms filthy and smelled of urine. The children's rooms had dirty old blankets on the ground and crumbling pillows. The refrigerator was worn out and moldy, with barely any food inside. I went home asking myself a million different questions about how and why these vulnerable children and families live this way and have not stopped thinking about it since. My other experience as a peer counselor for students on academic probation confirms that I have talent and great passion for my chosen field. I ask for special consideration in light of my GPA.
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