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“Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.” Those words, written by Carol Moseley-Braun, have became an adage that continues to guide my life. Life has a way of forcing one to grow; making you see things through different lenses; testing your dedication and commitment in seeking your goals. During my freshman and sophomore years of high school I had never really thought about college being a choice for me. I believe that others saw me as a class clown.  Unfortunately my low grades were indicative of my poor choices.                                                               What changed? Toward the end of my sophomore year I became interested in a program called “Developing Tomorrow’s Professionals” (DTP),  which was recommended to me by my principal. Even with her recommendation I was not chosen for the program due to my grades. I was disappointed and  knew I needed to make changes. I chose to work harder to improve my grades and would re-apply the following year. During the summer before my junior year, I consulted with former members of the DTP program. I asked questions regarding how I might o make myself a better candidate. Their feedback motivated me to excel in my studies and to continue to grow as a person. I realized that  I did not know how to study, nor did I have very good study habits. I usually went on YouTube to search for information on topics I was learning about in order to try to improve my test scores. While this helped, in the long run it simply was not enough to get by. I recognized that the people you associate with can influence you for the better or the worst. Eventually I realized, I needed to stand apart from my friends until I got everything organized within my life. In the middle of junior year, it was time for the interview for the program again. After all of the hard work I finally was accepted and was ready for the challenge. The first experience was getting fitted for our suits. If we look like professionals, we would feel more like professionals. During the program, we were required to attend ten consecutive academic saturdays at Southern Connecticut State University, where we were engaged in four hours of instruction in a carefully crafted, highly demanding program. Academic Saturdays included a combination of thought provoking discourse, rigorous writing prompts, college readiness lectures, and assessments designed to prepare us for our futures. We focused on fatherhood and leadership, and most importantly, the transition from high school to college. We recited the mission of the program daily: “Each man has the opportunity and the choice to live his life by a set of principles, founded on faith in God. The man who makes the choice to construct his life on a set of principles, elects a life that will, despite the obstacles that life brings, result in victory for those he serves, those he loves, his God and himself. Each man must establish his own standards of achievement and the principles that will make these standards of life a reality in every decision and for every day of his life. As you read and internalize these principles of a man, you will discover how they are all interrelated; how they work in concert, and collectively build you in mind, body and spirit.”  I have been told that it is not too late to start to care about college because it is an opportunity for a fresh start.  As a senior I am panicking that I waited too long to get serious. All I know is that I plan on starting off on the right foot right from the start as I prepare for my future. I can do anything if given a chance. I am a man who starts each day in VICTORY and ends each day V 

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