07/01/2013 09:51 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2013

Another Journey Begins

This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of four students as they apply for college in their senior year.

After four years of high school, it has all come to an end. Walking down the stage to receive my diploma was surreal; I couldn't believe it was actually happening. But when I glanced into the crowd, I saw my dad tearing up and my mom full-on crying, and I knew that this was the moment we had all been all waiting for. Yet the thing that struck me the most was the size of the diploma -- it was a lot smaller than I thought it would be. I sat back down in my chair and took a good look at it. I opened the leather-bound cover and ran my fingers over my name, written in lovely cursive script. After all the late nights, all the homework and projects, I was finally done. I did it! I made it through high school.

Now I will begin a new journey. I'm so excited to be going to Williams in the fall, but I'm also nervous. This will be the first time I'll be away from home for a long period of time. I'll be starting a new life in new surroundings, with new people and new experiences. Home-cooked meals -- rice and beans, tacos -- will be replaced by dining-hall food and instant Ramen. But I'll also have absolute freedom! (Hey, you win some and you lose some.) My parents won't be breathing down my neck all the time. I'll be able to do what I want when I want. Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. I'm going to have fun in college, but I'll also need to make sure all my work gets done. Organization will be key! I'll buy an agenda so I can keep track of all my assignments and tests. I don't want to be one of those people who cram the night before, but I know it will probably happen at least once or twice -- all-nighters are part of college life! It's going to be a balancing act. I'll find friends who want to study and then hang out afterward. I don't want to stress myself out too much, though; work doesn't always have to come before play.

I can't wait to live on campus and walk to classes. I can see myself chatting with friends in the common room, studying in the library, and maybe even hiking through the Berkshire Mountains. In Boston the closest I've come to hiking is... um, never. There are no mountains in the city! The tallest things around here are the skyscrapers. Now that I think about it, I haven't ever contemplated hiking as a pastime before. Williams might be just three hours away, but it feels like I'm heading to a different world.

All of my success over these last four years couldn't have been achieved without the help of some very important people. The application process, especially, is not easy, but with the right people in your corner, it can feel like a breeze. I was overwhelmed at times by all the work, but I had a great support system.

My Minds Matter mentors, Courtney and Beth, were such a tremendous help. Courtney always set us back on track when we got way off, and Beth is the person to go to when you need a break from it all, or really good edits on papers. They were a great team because they knew when to get serious and when to have fun, and that helped keep me balanced. I'm so thankful for Minds Matter because it allowed me to meet great people, attend amazing summer programs, and make it through my college apps in one piece.

My teachers and college advisors were there for me as well. My advisors helped me narrow down my school choices and believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself. They pushed me to work harder than ever and apply to top-rated schools. My English and history teachers took the time to thoughtfully write each recommendation letter that I asked for. Theirs were the classes I loved the most. I had the great pleasure to learn about the power of rhetoric and about the foundations of our government from people who were truly passionate about their subjects. These are the kinds of teachers I hope to encounter at Williams.

Last but never least, I thank my family. My parents are both immigrants, and their greatest dream was to see me graduate high school and go to college. They want all opportunities and all doors open to me, and they know that education is the key. They have always told me to work hard in school and get good grades -- that is my one job, they said. And now I'm the first in my family to attend college, because my parents always encouraged me to dream big. At graduation, I couldn't help but tear up when I saw my parents' faces. They have always been proud of me, but on that day their pride shined brighter than any star. My whole being was overflowing with joy because I had made them the proudest people ever.

I am so happy that I have fulfilled my parents' dreams for me. I am so happy that I've graduated high school. I am so happy that I'm going to college. It seemed like a far-off dream when I was little, but now that dream has become a reality, and it's right in front of me.