Pennsylvania's Best 50 Women in Business scholarship essay
|Maggie Arnold '06 received the $3,000 Best 50 Women in Business scholarship, which is open to women students in schools all across Pennsylvania.
"I am originally from a village in China where 70 to 80 percent of the people are illiterate due to endemic poverty, and most of them are women. Women are systematically discriminated against because of the prevalent misogynism in the dominant Chinese culture. With only one child allowed per family, female babies are not valued as much as male babies, hence the 60% male 40% female birth statistic. Fortunately for me, my parents recognized my talents in learning (especially in mathematics) and did everything they could to make sure that I received an education.
"Nonetheless, my dream of getting a higher education in China did not seem promising to me. As a result, at the age of 12, I asked my parents to send me to the United States, which my brother and others in the United States said was a “land of opportunity.” After much thoughtful consideration, my parents agreed to send me. Two months later, I arrived in New York City by myself and was picked up by one of my relatives whom I had never seen before. I was very happy at first, but this feeling changed as soon as I realized that I could not attend school since I did not have a passport. In addition, I spoke no English and I missed my parents very much. To make a long story short, I did finally get into a public school a year later. However, I learned little or no English for those years because I lived in Chinatown where everyone spoke Chinese.
"After finishing 9th grade in New York City, I was convinced that I needed to be in an English-speaking populace in order to really learn English. I called my parents in China to help me search for another place to live. It seemed as if I had hardly settled in with another set of relatives when I was already on the way to another relative’s house in Newport, Pa. I was so fortunate because this new relative cared about me more than anyone else besides my parents up to that point. She allowed me to stay with her family for free and encouraged me to study hard, especially since she was one of the 70 to 80 percent of illiterate people.
"The teachers and students in Newport High School were amazing. Not only did they not discriminate against me as the only Chinese person in the school, they also saw me as their friend and helped me in many ways. I studied very hard, and I joined almost every club in school. At first, joining clubs was an opportunity for me to learn English and make friends. But this view started changing when I realized the pleasure that I got from serving the community and the students. Things were going well for half a year, and then my guidance counselor (my mentor and one of my best friends) asked me about going to college since my grades were excellent. It was not until this time that I realized I had been illegal the whole time I was in the United States, and now I needed to be legal or at least obtain a social security number in order to attend a college. I called my brother who lived in New York City and asked about my status. After talking to our lawyer, he told me that I had to be adopted by American citizens before I turned 16, and I was 15 and a half.
"I was so disappointed, but then two wonderful American pastors who were my relative’s special customers at the Chinese restaurant, came to my mind. I decided to ask them to adopt me. Amazingly, they did and I moved into their house two weeks later. My adoption was granted within two months. Up to this point, I thought my relative from Newport was, and probably would be, the best thing that happened to me in the United States, but I was wrong. My adoptive parents loved me so much that they helped me with my English every day, and I was at the top of my class the first year I arrived in Newport High School, finally graduating as valedictorian. In addition, my adoptive parents showed respect for my own religion, Buddhism, by giving me the choice whether to go to church or not. At first, I went to church simply because I felt I had to, despite the fact that my Chinese parents were devout Buddhists. After a few months of experiencing the love of my adoptive parents and the church people, as well as God’s unconditional love, I was convinced to consider this new religion, Christianity. Consequently, I decided to answer God’s call and officially become a Christian in the year 2000. Despite the numerous obstacles that I have struggled with over the years, I remain faithful to God because I feel God’s presence and that God will walk with me no matter what."
— excerpted from Maggie Arnold
's winning scholarship essay