Disadvantaged Status Essay, Yemen/California

I ask for consideration for disadvantaged status on the basis of two primary factors. First, since I was raised approximately half of the time from the age of birth to eighteen in a small village in Yemen, English is for me a second language. Secondly, throughout my education in the USA, 19 of my 31 years that I have lived here in Lamont, California, I have worked long hours in the family business, our market.

My parents were both born in Yemen. While all of us, my parents, brothers, sisters, wife, and children are U.S. citizens, as a child, we were constantly going back and forth from the United States to Yemen because of the family left behind. I went to school in the USA only from 9-11 and 14-18 years old. At 9 years old, I began studying in a language with which I knew very little, requiring special struggle to excel, an enduring special test of my ability that would continue through my graduation from High School and into college.

I began to study science sitting on a dirt floor in my classroom in Yemen, at the village school, the only classroom that I new prior to moving back to the USA when I was 9. I also learned early on that I liked very much working with my hands physically. Dentistry combines both interests in a complimentary, symbiotic fashion. In addition to being the one who fixes everything broken in my family, I am also the person in the family who everyone relies on for helpful health tips and general health information. For example, I explain to them how food is digested and absorbed, the types of healthy food that should be eaten, how organs work, etc. 

I was the first member of my family to graduate from middle school, let alone high school, community college, and now UCXX. Being accepted into dental school would be a special honor for us all, especially given the fact that when my parents came to the United States, they were farm workers. They saved up some money so they could buy a small grocery store in XXXX, Ca. The business has been a struggle for the family for many years, with my parents both investing most of their working lives in this business, generally working approximately 15 hours a day with no days off. I also have been working in this business since I was a child. I have always helped my parents in this business and continue to do so until this day, also working long hours. In this way, I have also been able to help support my 5 siblings, 2 brothers and 3 sisters. I also helped support my brother and 2 sisters financially throughout their college years.

I feel strongly that I have come from an economically disadvantaged situation with respect to my education here in America as well as back in Yemen. Even here in California, I was unable to participate in any extra-curricular activity in middle school or high school, there were no sports or after school programs for me; I could not even join clubs, because I had to work after school. I also did not have anyone that would help me with my homework that I had to do only after working long hours, because both of my parents had only a few years of education themselves and worked all the time. My wife and I struggled for a long time, all of us living in the same 3 bedroom house: my wife and I along with our first daughter in one room, my 2 brothers and 2 sisters in another room, and my parents in the third, which is how I was able to make it through college economically.

Starting a market in America is deeply rooted in the Yemeni immigrant experience. Furthermore, I was profoundly indoctrinated with a sense of duty to my family from early on, making it difficult to achieve economic independence for myself and my young family primarily due to the fact that my parents did not even pay me a salary until 2007. I immediately began saving money and we were able to move into the house next door, several years ago which belongs to my parents. We have bought all the necessary furnishing for the home. Even when I was attending UCSB, I had to work full time to support my extended family. My father never thought that education was important. He always had his mind on the store. I had to work to pay my bills, books, and food, etc. I sacrificed my time, by working and helping my parents, for the benefit of my brothers and sisters. Our hard work paid off, however, and the market has now brought us a measure of security as a family.

Shadowing a dentist now for over 55 hours as well as my volunteer work at the hospital, requires a 35-40 minute drive, depending on the freeway traffic. I have always tried to help my community, especially those families struck by tragedies. Often, we do car washes in our business parking lot for families in crisis. Our family business is doing quite well and I have some money saved for dental school. My brother has completed college and is ready to assume full responsibility for the family business. I now have a chance to fully immerse myself in a career in dentistry, for the future of my children and my wife as well as myself.

I very much appreciate your consideration of my application for disadvantaged status.

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