BTN LiveBIG: "I Have A Dream" Essay Contest Winners Part 1

Yesterday, BTN LiveBIG introduced four students who have been chosen as winners in the Michigan State University “I Have a Dream” essay contest.

Now, we’re proud to present the four essays. The first two, by Zakiya Suleiman and Lana Zuck, follow below. The essays from Sara Hughes and Tiffany Khoury will come this afternoon. 

All in One Place – by Zakiya SuleimanZakiya Suleiman

“If you don’t have a dream, how can you have a dream come true” (Jiminy Cricket). I must admit that I have willed myself to dream on so many nights. I vaguely remember them but when I do, they are bits and pieces of movies and shows that my mind puts together and each time I am fighting to emerge as the all-time star. Most of the time, quite unsuccessfully. The state between sleep and wake is where I see everything that I have ever aspired to be: a passionate and tenacious gynecologist.

I went to the hospital one afternoon and I saw a room crowded with mothers and babies, hoping and waiting for a chance to see a doctor to take care of them. Due to the shortage of staff and exhausted doctors, some of them did not get that chance. These people went home the same way they came, helpless and in dire need of care. This image was forever imprinted in my memories and it constantly drives my passion. I want to be able to provide the utmost care to patients and globalize my expertise in helping people gain access to quality health care. I see myself as someone who would be able to extend my shine to brighten the homes of those who experience nothing but darkness.

I have always said that coming to Michigan State University was the best decision I ever made. It took me less than a semester to realize this and I have been here for only a year. I work hard every day to excel academically, mostly because I am driven by what I want to achieve in the near future. I utilize office hours, help rooms and my teaching assistants because MSU has made it possible for me. I have the opportunity to participate in research projects which cater to my interests in the health field. I have met people like me, people who share the same passion of learning the art of how to save lives.  Unlike the community college I attended before coming to Michigan State University, here I am treated as an individual, not as a number. I received an email from the internship coordinator of the College of Natural Science listing me by name to alert me of a job opportunity where I can get hands-on experience in the health care setting. I felt very privileged.

Touring the world has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. From Ghana in West Africa, I have made it to Canada and the United States. Of all the 196 countries in the world, I am proud of my very few explorations. Being here at MSU seems as though I have travelled to over 50 countries already. It is so refreshing and enriching whenever I witness different cultural shows around campus. I have the opportunity to interact with people from so many different places and I have shared my culture with them just as they have shared theirs with me. Listening to people talk about their place of origin gives me a whole new experience. I feel the love and pride that radiates from people whenever they express their culture. “The Born Series” written by Nora Roberts is the reason I yearn to go to Ireland. I can’t tell if she exaggerated the beauty of the country but this same impact is what I feel whenever I have conversations with people pertaining to their cultural backgrounds. Interacting with these people has opened my eyes to different things around me. I am gaining insight into how best I can integrate all my experiences from both the academic and social facets of my college career to better understand and help people from all walks of life.

Through participation in various activities around campus, I am acquiring skills in team building, effective communication and proficiency in leadership roles. As a recent Resident Assistant for the Academic Orientation Program, I have the opportunity to harness my potential and ability to touch lives in a positive way. I look forward to interacting with my fellow staff members every week because they are genuinely friendly, encouraging and accepting. This atmosphere does more than foster productiveness. It provides personal growth and strength.

Project 60-50

Lana ZuckThe Fighter – by Lana Zuck

“At Michigan State University dreams and aspirations are nourished, talents and passions are cultivated, and lives are transformed.”

I walk with the utmost gratefulness every day that I am on this campus. Michigan State University has created structure and stability in my life. This institution has not only provided me with the tools and resources to receive a nationally renowned education, but to also have a chance to be able to move past the adversity that I have faced. If I close my eyes, I can still feel what I felt as a nine-year old girl. The screaming, name-calling, and empty beer cans will follow me wherever I go. I can still hear the cries of my mom and see my dad grasping her neck. I still feel the pain that I felt when it seemed I didn’t belong, and I still feel the frustration that I felt when the bank came to my house. However, I never let my hope fade away- my hope that one day I would be able to read, “Dear Ms. Zuck, Congratulations, and welcome! I am delighted to inform you of your admission to Michigan State University for Fall Semester 2013.”

In the classroom I shined. I grew up in a small community where I had the privilege of being with most of my classmates from kindergarten to graduation. I established great friendships and I was involved in many extra-curricular activities such as softball and the National Honors Society. I was always at the top of my class, and I gained several lifelong relationships with teachers and administrators. My eighth grade English teacher in particular, acknowledged my potential and gave me the guidance to be the best that I could be in every aspect of my life. Her support has helped me through many hardships and she has inspired me to be able to help students much like she has helped me. If it weren’t for her, I don’t know if I ever would have really thought I had the ability to be the first in my family to go to college.

Through the positive relationships and academic success that I created at school, I kept moving forward every day even when I doubted myself. Stereotypes follow Mexican-Americans and at times I felt that I was at a disadvantage. I don’t have much money and I come from a broken family, but at home my mom has taught me what a strong work ethic is and what it means to pick yourself back up when you have fallen. She has faced numerous obstacles throughout her life that have inspired me to only look at mine as minor bumps in the road. Through her I have gained the determination to never give up and to believe in myself. I learned to be a fighter who sets goals, is willing to try again, and remembers, as Edmund Lee once said, “Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.”

At Michigan State University there are people from all over the world who are dreamers, doers, believers, and thinkers. I have found that the students, faculty, and staff here at Michigan State accept people for everything that they are because every Spartan has a story that deserves to be understood. At Michigan State University, the world is at our fingertips and we are eager to take any opportunity given to learn something new about a religion, culture, or language. The Spartan community finds that the most powerful changes in our society will occur when we work hard and fight for progress together.

Every week as I walk to Wells Hall, I look up to Beaumont Tower and I smile. I smile because Michigan State University acknowledged my story. The challenges I have faced remind us all that we can do anything that we set our minds to if we have the heart and willingness to never stop fighting. I have been given the opportunity to live my dream, and I want to let every Spartan know that there are people out there to help them and that they too can make a difference. When I graduate, I am planning on becoming a teacher and I will represent Michigan State University by nurturing the young minds of the future. If students can begin to see hope in themselves, value their learning, and are able to build connections that can pull them into higher education then they just might break the barriers that hold them back. Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived-that is to have succeeded.”

On November 1, 2012 I read, “Dear Ms. Zuck, Congratulations, and welcome! I am delighted to inform you of your admission to Michigan State University for Fall Semester 2013.”

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