A small islander’s American Dream
I was born in the city of Newark, New Jersey but very quickly moved to my father’s home island of St. Lucia, West Indies. Growing up on a Caribbean island is a privilege I will forever be grateful for. From the picturesque scenery to the hard work and determination of its inhabitants, it is truly an inspiring setting for a young child growing up. However, as much as I adore my island, life in a third-world country is as difficult as you could imagine.
Envisioning a better future
Growing up I was always taught that nothing worth having in life was handed to you and that only those who persevered would succeed in life. There was no time for dream-chasing because there were hours to be put into more important career-building pursuits. I watched my mother, a foreigner to St. Lucia as well, work tirelessly to ensure the best quality of life for her three children. I saw many other adults that I respected deeply, struggle to find jobs in their fields that would earn them a decent living. That was not the life I envisioned for myself nor my family in the future. I quickly realized that my only way out was to get the best education I could.
Towards the end of my high school career, I took on my first leadership position as a prefect. In this role I would be responsible for ensuring my assigned classroom was well behaved and at the daily school assembly on time. Though I struggled miserably as a shy student “pretending” to be a leader, I learned many valuable skills and my confidence had increased by the end of my term. I realized that even the scariest, most intimidating opportunities had a lesson to teach.
Saying ‘yes’ to opportunities
Once I finished my studies in St. Lucia, I decided that the best way for me to further my education was to return to America to get a college degree. The move to a first world country without my family was such a culture shock to me, but I did not let my intimidation get the better of me. Knowing what my stakes are makes it so much easier to say “yes!” to opportunities that come my way. I have since accepted many more leadership roles, including my most recent as Vice President of Fellowship for my school’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter. Though I still struggle with my confidence from time to time, I know that I can make it through. Success is but a mindset.
Krystal Nicholas is a sophomore at Union County College of Cranford, New Jersey majoring in computer science/engineering. She also currently serves as a peer tutor on her college campus as well as VP of Fellowship for UCC’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter. In her free time she enjoys playing her musical instruments or staying active by going for runs in the park. Krystal is a 2018 recipient of the Pearson Scholarship for Higher Education.
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