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I was born outside of the US on a small island with a good educational system. I never attended school there, however, coming to American just before my fourth birthday. As far as I was concerned, life in America was lonely, frightening and filled with abuse. While I really liked school, my otherness (accented speech, dweebish fashion sense and lack of money and connections conspired to make me an outcast at school and throughout the neighborhood.

My hardworking parents were rarely at home. Starting at age 4, they left me in the care of a brother who was three years older. His frustrations with being bullied in school caused him to be physically abusive.

On many school days we hid in our respective bedrooms to avoid the stress of school. I can recall roaming the halls of my elementary school desperately trying to remember my classroom number. When I finally found the room, the teacher questioned whether I belonged there since she didn't recall seeing me before in her class.

In 10th grade, after a semester with an amazing English teacher, I found the courage to ask if I could continue as her student in the upcoming semester. I had to ask because her only available English class that worked in my schedule was A-levels and I (according to the registrar) was a C-level student. I could only be admitted to this class with her permission.

I asked and she agreed with a very clear stipulation. "I'm not concerned with whether or not you can do the work. You just have to do the work!"

Needless to say, I worked hard and maintained grades in the B+ to A- range for the rest of my time in high school so she wouldn't have a reason to regret her decision.

I cried (and sometimes sobbed) throughout Prof. Rose's interview because I was reminded of Mrs. Anglin and how her very direct words and encouragement completely transformed the trajectory of my life.