UC Berkeley / UCLA
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Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud, and how does it relate to the person you are?


I gazed out in awe at the 20,000 people who had gathered that day, on the one-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. It was a solemn occasion, and people from around the nation had gathered in solidarity. Looking out at all those faces, I was struck by what an immense honor it was to be a part of something so significant—especially since just a year ago I had been a foreign student just arrived from Korea, barely even able to communicate in English. I clutched my trumpet tightly in my hands. The performance I was about to give meant much more than just another song; it represented the hard work and determination that had made it possible for me to be there in the first place. It represented the fighting spirit that I learned to embody in everything I do.

A personal quality that is important to me is my fierce determination. Once I decide on a goal, I will stop at nothing to accomplish it. My learning of the trumpet is a representative example that illustrates this quality. I started the trumpet when I was in the seventh grade, which was the very year I had moved to the United States. The alphabet was the only English I knew, and I found it extremely difficult to adjust to a military school in a completely foreign environment. One day, I noticed how grand the trumpet sounded when it was played during the raising and lowering of the American flag. Thinking it would be a rewarding extracurricular activity as well as a great way to meet new friends, I set my sights on learning to play the trumpet and began practicing over six hours every day. I never missed a day of practice, and within a year, I was captain of the marching band and the school Bugler. The student I had looked upon just a year ago was me now—I was the one playing the trumpet in the morning, during the raising and lowering of the flag, and while marching. I had started with nothing, but with sheer motivation and the refusal to give up, had gained both leadership positions and friends.

This quality is especially significant to me because through determination I was able to experience success, and these successes (however little they may be) gave me the confidence to attempt new things and never give up. This essentially defines who I am—always striving, always working towards a goal. I came to this country frightened but hopeful, and it is through my determination, more than anything, that I am still here hoping to make something of myself.



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