“Hi Shraddha! I just want to call you to personally congratulate you for….”
Even now, it’s hard for me to believe that the phone call wasn’t a trick my mind was playing on me. But as I look at the hard copy letter that arrived in the mail a few days ago, I am relieved. It’s true. It’s happening.
Throughout the past few years, I thought I knew exactly how my higher education would pan out: I would study Arabic and International Relations at UT Austin. It was a feasible, realistic plan, and I was thrilled about it. It was also my only choice. As I began the college search process years ago, I knew that given my family’s income bracket, I would not receive need-based aid to attend an out of state or private college, meaning that a Texas school would be my only realistic option. When I started filling out college apps this past summer, I went in with the mindset that UT would be the only one I could actually go to, and I applied to some “dream” reach schools just to see if I could get in.
But then things changed. Sitting in Spanish class one day in August, I received a message from my friend Ben, who was on my NSLI-Y program in Jordan. We had been out of touch for nearly a year, and his text came as a surprise. He told me about the Cameron Impact Scholarship which “awards four-year, full-tuition, merit-based undergraduate scholarships to exceptional high school students who have demonstrated excellence in academics, extracurricular activities, leadership, and community service.” After looking up the scholarship, and reading through the first few scholar profiles, it did not take me long to become intimidated and give up. There was no way they would select me amongst all the other amazingly talented applicants, some of whom were business owners, non-profit founders, and inventors. However, Ben, who had received the scholarship himself, encouraged– pushed– me to apply, and I decided to give it a shot. In late August, I finished rereading my many essays for one last time, hit submit on the application form, and sent in my recommendation letters. The space between August and December was filled with months of wait, a thought-provoking interview, and more excruciating weeks of waiting.
And then the phone call came. To say that my life changed on December 11th, 2018 would not only be a cliché, but also an understatement. “I just want to call you to personally congratulate you for being selected as a 2019 Cameron Impact Scholar.” I remember clearly my shock and disbelief. I must have sounded like a broken record, saying “Oh my God! Thank you so much!” on repeat, as I fought back tears of joy and surprise.
Just a week later, on December 17th, another dream came true. As I opened the long-awaited envelope with shaking hands, I saw the words: “It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the Committee on Admissions has admitted you to the Georgetown University (School of Foreign Service) Class of 2023.”
Looking back on the events of the past month, I’m given a chance to reflect on how lucky I am. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined attending an out of state or private school. Georgetown was my dream since ninth grade, but I never thought that it would be in reach. Thanks to the Cameron Impact Scholarship, I have been given the gift of options. UT is still very much in my highest considerations, but now I have the freedom to shape my undergraduate education without worrying about the finances. Now, as I wait for Regular Decision results from other colleges, and start thinking about where I’ll be spending the next few years of my life, I find myself undecided, yet extremely optimistic. I know things will work out for the best.
When freshman-me thought I had my life planned out, the Cameron Impact Scholarship didn’t even exist. I started senior year ready to pursue my education on a track that I thought was always written out in my destiny. But unbeknownst to me, the Divine had plans that I could never have foreseen myself. Where I am now is completely different from what I imagined, but I couldn’t be luckier.
Even now, I am only halfway through the college application process, and another semester of school will reveal new developments on my future. But if anything, this experience has taught me to surrender. Things will work out, and I am excited for the surprises that wait for me. Miracles happen.
Note: Just a few months ago, I wrote a post about getting rejected from all three summer programs I applied to, but how that led me towards an extremely fruitful internship. Not only was that internship instrumental in getting me into UT and Georgetown, but also the Cameron Impact Scholarship. It goes to show once again that things work it, even when you don’t think they will. 🙂