I never saw myself as a smart person. Definitely not book smart. Maybe smart in other ways. I never liked school all that much. No matter how hard I tried

“I never saw myself as a smart person. Definitely not book smart. Maybe smart in other ways. I never liked school all that much. No matter how hard I tried, I could never reach past a B. I even got a tutor in high school, and she was great, but my grades didn’t really improve. I was intimidated by how well other students could write and speak. I didn’t think I’d ever reach that level. I figured that college just wasn’t for me. After graduation I took a year off and backpacked through Southeast Asia. I loved it so much. I didn’t want to leave. When I came home I decided to major in history, because at least I could keep learning about Asia. I’m almost finished now. I made it through with about a ‘B’ average. Last term I even got nominated for an award by my favorite professor. His name is Arne Kislenko. He’s a little bit of a hard ass. He expects a lot. He doesn’t even post lecture slides. But he has stories and tidbits for everything. Even though I almost failed his class, I registered for two more because I learned so much. I wrote my final paper on Thai Foreign Policy from 1932 to 1945. He handed it back with a note that said: ‘See me.’ He told me that he was nominating me for the Dean’s List Essay Award. I was the only student he chose. I didn’t win, but I didn’t care. It showed me what I could do if I write about a subject I care about. It was the first time I’d ever been recognized for something academic, and it came from the smartest person I know.”

(Toronto, Canada)

I’ve been telling myself since the age of twelve: ‘I’ve got to be a mogul. I’ve got to be the greatest. I’ve got to get my family out of the hood

One thing I love about Washington is that it’s constantly reminding you that it doesn’t need you