I was sixteen years old when I withdrew from high school and seventeen years of age when I earned my GED with scores in the 99.9 percentile. I never completed ninth grade coursework and took my GED subsequent to being granted permission from the board of education, which was necessary as a consequence of my young age. I am ashamed to admit I never studied for the exam, I decided to show up and participate in the test only hours before it was administered, and I scored higher then 99.9 percent of all other testers. Subsequently, I enrolled in a junior college because that was what people did after being awarded a GED. I lacked discipline, motivation, and was unaware that what appeared to be an inability to function in the world of academia was actually the consequence of an undiagnosed learning disability.
I watched as my older brother completed his undergraduate degree with high honors, graduated from medical school with top grades, placed in the 99.9 percentile of all medical students in the United States, and earned residency at Massachusetts General Hospital.
It has been three years since I visited New York and sat at my grandfather’s bedside surrounded by hospital staff and the many noises emitted from various machines ready to scream out should any one of the numerous vital bodily functions fade. This person was deserving of so much more than what I gave to him in years preceding. I owed him a return on the investments he so generously made without condition. I knew that the time had come for me to “grow up.” It was time to dispose of excuses, forget about those who had wronged me, and take accountability for my own life. It was frighteningly clear that grandpa was very ill and that there would be only myself to subsist in the world I was creating. The new years eve of 2009 I decided to build the life I wanted for myself. I promised my grandfather I would succeed this time and although this was a promise he had heard many years before, he gave me his last contribution to my education. Three thousand dollars for a semester of studies was put into my bank account notwithstanding mass opposition from family.
I sat in my driveway days before class was to begin and listened to my brother’s angry words. He spoke to me from a telephone made available to medical residents during the short breaks allotted them over twelve hour graveyard shifts. “I don’t believe you will ever amount to anything. Grandpa wasted his money once again and I am not interested in what you promise or proclaim because you have always been a loser and you will always be a loser. Call me when you have something other than empty promises, excuses, and self-pity. I have no time for this any longer.” I called him at the end of that fall semester when I earned three “A’s” and one “B” which was in Statistics. He was unimpressed.
Today I am a graduate of browed college and an honour student at The Florida State University. I never received another “W” and my transcripts are filled with notations where I earned placement on the Deans List or have demonstrated academic excellence. Three years later I am a straight “A” student. I can no longer count the number of “A’s” I earned since that December evening spent vowing to build a life worthy of my families respect. My grandpa became sicker and consequently I was left to my own devices.
My GPA is 3.699 cumulative at FSU, my major GPA is 3.799 cumulative at all academic institutions, and I am in the top fifteen percent of my university class. In September of 2010 I received a letter in the mail from an organization unfamiliar to me. It was GKIHS inviting me to become one of a selected group of college students who have demonstrated academic excellence and rank within the top fifteen percent of their university class. I was shocked to say the least. I had spent so much time studying that I had overlooked all that I had achieved over the previous years. I was shocked to learn that I was in the top fifteen percent of my class and grateful to realize that all my hard work had not gone unnoticed.