In this week’s I am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, Furr High School senior Karen Banda talks about why she traveled to nine different states and another country this summer, how her experiences there changed her perceptions of herself and the world around her, and when she first realized an Ivy League education could be in her future.
This summer, you traveled to nine different states. At some of those places, you studied geology through the University of Texas’ GeoFORCE program. Did all of those fascinating field trips affect your choice of major?
No, not really. At first, I wanted to do medicine, but then I decided to do business and economics. I do see the world differently, now, though, because I know how everything was formed. And even though I want to major in something different, I learned so many things and you meet so many great people. We’re all like a family there, and to me, that’s very important in a program.
You also traveled to London this summer on a full scholarship through HISD’s EMERGE program and one of its partners, the non-profit organization Discover U. What did you have to do to be considered?
Discover U sends us a list of “Fantastic Learning Opportunities” every month in a newsletter and I really like traveling. So I got together my transcript and essays and applied for it and I was accepted.
On the district’s HISD2college blog, you talk about how these experiences have changed you and how you see yourself. Can you describe some of those changes?
I think the Northeast trip I did with EMERGE impacted me the most, because before that, I didn’t really think I could go to an Ivy League school (due to) the neighborhood I come from and my family’s situation. But we were able to hear from students just like me who did it, so now I know it’s possible.
In that article, you also talk a lot about opportunity. Why is that such an important concept to you?
Because not many people get the chances that I’ve had. They open up your mind to many things. I feel more confident and capable of getting scholarships and going to these Ivy League schools now, if I work hard at it.
You visited a number of tourist attractions while in England, like the Tower Bridge, the Eye of London, and Big Ben. Which one was your favorite?
Oooh. That’s a hard one. I think my favorite was the Tower of London, because it’s very well-known and it’s completely different from anything here in America. Just the age and the vibe I got from it. It took me back to the past. I also liked St. Paul’s Cathedral, because I’m Catholic. I saw every single station that they had and people praying, and a mass going on. It was really amazing.
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