By Karen Banda

Dear Prospective EMERGE Fellows,

First of all, congratulations on getting this far! You have the opportunity to join a group of supporting, caring, and brilliant individuals who will become close friends and mentors. Every person you meet through EMERGE will become a connection to something or some place, whether a summer program, a certain college, an internship … any possible thing you could imagine. Most importantly, these people will be the ones who will open your eyes to a million possibilities, and the ones who will be there to help you throughout this long process.

Take advantage all of the opportunities you are granted, because you never know which one will change your life forever. There are times where you may worry about how to pay for a program you want to participate in, and this may discourage you from even applying. Apply anyway! There are many ways you can work out the money issue, if there is one. If you read that a program is extremely competitive, apply! First, if you take part in the program, it will look great on your resume. Second, the program being competitive more than likely means that it’s great. Third, you will be an EMERGE Fellow, which means you have the help you need to get into these competitive programs.

As a new EMERGE Fellow, you may think that the work you have to put into it will overwhelm you, but it shouldn’t. There is a phrase that says “You reap what you sow.” Although this phrase is sometimes used in a negative way, there is also a positive side to it. Think of it this way – all the work, time, and dedication you put into EMERGE will come back to you tenfold.

There will be times that you will hear from others that your dreams are impossible to accomplish. There will be times when you will believe it, and you will want to give up. It is normal, especially for low-income, first-generation, and/or minority students. I have been there, and it continues to happen. You just have to remind yourself that you have made it this far, and you are capable of going further.

During winter break, I binge-watched “Grey’s Anatomy,” and I heard a great quote: “Life is not a spectator sport. Win, lose, or draw, the game is in progress, whether we want it to be or not. So go ahead, argue with the refs, change the rules … take a break … tend to your wounds. But play. Play hard. Play fast. Play loose and free. Play as if there’s no tomorrow.”

I hope this letter will help you all see that no matter what happens, you should not give up. Never give up. Never stop fighting for your deepest dreams. Never.


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