Student Ambassador Blog Articles

If I Can Do It, You Can Too, by SCCO Student Ambassador, Taylor Young

A series of articles written by SCCO Student Ambassadors.

If I Can Do it, You Can Too

by SCCO Student Ambassador, Taylor Young

taylor-youngThinking back on my academic journey thus far, I feel a combination of pride, excitement, embarrassment, and imposter syndrome. From graduating as my high school Valedictorian to failing calculus AND organic chemistry during undergrad at UC Irvine, to being admitted into optometry school… I have a bit of whiplash. I don’t have the perfect transcript, and if you’re looking at me on paper, you may not think I am the type of student who should be admitted into a prestigious program to pursue a doctorate. But what I have learned throughout my tempestuous journey is that I am actually the exact type of student that should be admitted into these programs.

Growing up, I found a sense of identity in my academic achievements.  School was fun for me, and the praise I received from my teachers and parents provided validation that I was good at something, and therefore I internalized that as my worth. This didn’t seem like an issue when I was growing up since my classes were interesting, and good grades came somewhat easily to me. Being known as the “smart girl” was something I happily accepted as my reputation. I began to define myself as such and judge myself heavily based on my academic progress. Graduating as the Valedictorian of my high school class and getting admitted to a good university only reaffirmed those beliefs about myself that my worth was tied to my success. What I would realize very soon, however, is that these years of expecting myself to be the best academically were actually making me very fragile to any type of failure. Receiving less than an ‘A’ in a class, let alone failing a class, uprooted my sense of self and made me question my capabilities of what I would be able to achieve for my future. During my undergrad at UC Irvine, I was not prepared for the rigor and time necessary to do well in my science classes. I did not know how to study for classes like these, considering my whole experience in high school was that if I just paid attention and submitted my homework, I would do well. Instead, these college courses tested every ounce of myself. I had to completely re-learn how to study, find a routine that would allow me to work hard but also maintain a social life, and most importantly, I had to learn to not internalize a poor grade as a reflection of who I was as a person or what I was able to accomplish.

I had to learn to be resilient and adaptable and build a strong mental fortitude so that my confidence would not be so easily shaken as it was early on in my academic career. During college, I failed a couple of classes, but I also made great grades in others. I struggled with balancing my study schedule at times, but I still managed to hold leadership positions, made long-lasting friendships, conducted stem-cell research, landed internships, and graduated on time with a colorful but still accomplished, transcript. When I walked across the stage on graduation day, I was grateful for all the hardship and struggle I endured (both academically and personally) because not only was that diploma a representation of all of the hard work I put in, but it also signified to me that there is not only one route to be successful. I needed my struggles in order to appreciate my talents and gifts, and it has prepared me to be the person that I am. The struggles have made me a better daughter, friend, student, and future optometrist.

When I got the call that I was admitted into SCCO, I sat in my room and cried. I felt a blanket of gratitude and relief wash over me. I felt so thankful that this school recognized me for who I am rather than defining me by my GPA. I felt seen and heard for what I knew deep down to be true: that I am going to be an excellent student and future optometrist one day, not just based on my grades alone, but because I know I can overcome hardship and adversity. I know that I will face difficulties in school and life, which aren’t going away, but because of my experiences with failure, I know that I will be okay no matter what roadblocks may appear.

If you feel like you aren’t good enough for your dreams, quiet the voice inside and start to break those self-limiting beliefs. Write a list of the positive qualities you know to be true about yourself. Remember that you are more than whatever box someone or an institution puts you into. Believe in yourself, and find people to remind you of who you are when those doubtful thoughts get heavy and weigh on you. You can do whatever you set your mind to, and you have a special purpose for your life, even if the route of getting there looks a little different than you anticipated. If I can do it, you can too.

Click here to read Taylor’s bio and meet other Student Ambassadors at 
Taylor Young_1

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