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Personal Statement Contest Winner Posted on:Monday, December 2nd, 2013


The NGG personal statement contest is over and we have a winner!  Phoo Kyaw from John Dewey H.S. in Brooklyn, New York is hoping for an acceptance letter to attend one of her top college picks next Fall- it’s between Columbia University, John Hopkins University, and Hunter College.

Like many students, Phoo and her family overcame tremendous challenges so that some day, she could fulfill her dream of going to college. Here’s an excerpt from her essay:

 “Perhaps my biggest challenge was when I had to speak English to buy a loaf of bread at the bakery. Knowing that speaking and listening to foreign language are the most difficult obstacles to overcome made me feel down-hearted, for I grew up speaking Burmese with my friends and family. Learning a new language is like learning to cook a new dish. You just don’t know what ingredients to use. However, with the hope and dream of going to college, my zeal to learn English never wavered…”

Phoo’s success as a student is largely attributed to both her persistence and optimism, a combination that Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Thomas Friedman put at the top of his list of “must have skills” for today’s 21st Century students.  According to Friedman, students who really want to succeed in today’s “average-less” world must:

Think like an immigrant! Be paranoid and optimistic. Paranoid, in the sense that you are always sizing up the competition, always striving to stay one step ahead, and never, ever resting on your laurels. Optimistic because anything else is self-defeating, and a luxury you can’t afford.

Be hungry, because everyone is an immigrant in the super-connected world we live in today!

Think like an artisan! Always take pride in your work, and do your job as if you were going to carve your initials into it. Develop a reputation for excellence, and make that your brand.

Always be in beta mode! Nothing is ever finished. The world is constantly changing, constantly in motion, and if you’re standing still, it will pass you by. If you want to stay ahead of the pack, you have to try new things, and you can’t be afraid to experiment.

PQ plus CQ is always higher than IQ! What does this mean? Dogged Persistence (PQ) and high Curiosity (CQ) will always take you farther than raw intelligence alone. Just being smart is not enough. You need to harness your passion to make your dreams come true!

Think like a waitress at the Perkins he visited in central Iowa, who went all-out to please her customers. Although she couldn’t control anything except the fruit ladle, she gave him extra fruit and got an extra 50% in her tip! Be relentlessly entrepreneurial in everything you do, and never stop thinking of creative ways to add value for your customers. Don’t just meet their needs: surprise them by going above and beyond their expectations. Then you’ll truly stand out from your competition!

As you continue to submit your college applications, keep this list of qualities in mind.  Your path as a student, as a thought leader, and contributor to the world does not stop at an acceptance letter.  It is merely the beginning.



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