It’s always weird to think about who I am today and who I was growing up. I was raised inVenice,Californiaand my childhood experience was a little different than most. I was one of two Asian Americans at my middle school, I’d get into fist fights pretty often, I’ve been stabbed in the ribs, I’ve been shot at twice, I’ve been arrested, most of the friends I grew up with are either in jail or have passed away, I would shoplift, I did not care about school at all, and the concept of leadership seemed like a complete waste of time. A lot of us would even boo and throw trash at the Associated Student Body (ASB) officers every time they spoke to us at rallies…I was usually the one leading the booing. The direction that my life was headed towards was not a good one and it wasn’t until I made friends with the right crowd during my senior year of high school that my life changed for the better. They got me to care a little more about my school and as a result my GPA and my sports involvements were good enough to land me a spot here at UC Irvine. One thing led to another and the kid who used to spit in teachers’ coffee cups, punch people in the face, and run from the cops was now starting new student government events, leading discussions, orienting freshmen, volunteering for Alternative Breaks, and planning programs for residents. I know right? What was UCI thinking when they first accepted me? But I’m so thankful that they did because this school, all of the thousands of opportunities that come with it, and the people that go here have literally saved my life and I can only hope that it continues to make a positive impact on future trouble makers.

Keith Smith (Pseudonym)

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