Last summer, I had the opportunity to attend the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project’s Sacramento Leadership Conference. I spent one week in Sacramento learning about the history of Chicanos, problems in the State of California, gaining information about college, and networking with other students. I was extremely excited to have been accepted to attend, and consider it one of my biggest accomplishments, because up until then I hadn’t participated in many extra-curricular activities, and I did not consider myself a leader. I learned at the conference that leadership is a quality often misunderstood. A leader is not always a person who is president of a club or an ASB officer. A leader is a person who steps in when needed, helps others, and influences others to be the best they can be. I now consider myself a leader because I understand how much I help my family overcome issues. I help my mother fill out job applications and teach her how to use computer programs. I also help my grandparents understand their medical papers. I also learned a lot this summer about my ethnicity, my history, my family and about myself. I learned that my back ground is unique. For instance, I didn’t understand the degree of what I have overcome to achieve a high GPA. My parents divorced when I was 8 years old, the effects of which I still feel every day. My mother, whom I live with the majority of the time, is a Mexican immigrant who managed to graduate high school and never considered pursuing a higher education. After the divorce we moved to South Central,Los Angeles. She has yet to find a stable job, and is workng only temporary now with no other stable income. I attend South Gate High School, about four miles away from home. My father’s world is the polar opposite. He is a first generation Mexican-American, born and raised in the city of West Covina. This quiet little neighborhood is where I stay one school night and every other weekend, 30 miles away from my main home and school. My dad earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics and an MBA, and is a NASA engineer. Living in two households that are thirty miles apart was difficult from the start, and it became even more complicated by the time I got to high school. My parents do not get along, and it maade it difficult to coordinate the living situation in a positive way. When I was still in school my father used to pick me up from school on Wednesdays, and I had to have my belongings already with me. If I happened to forget a book for homework at my mother’s house, he refused to take me to get it. If I accidentally left a book at his house, my mother refused to take me to get it. At times I’d had to ask my classmates to email or send me a text message with a picture of our homework assignment so I would not miss the deadline. Because of my custody arrangement, I had also found it difficult to participate in many after school activities. Both parents refused to compromise to allow me to attend after school or weekend meetings or practices. I would have loved to continue playing tennis, or participated in more volunteer work. My dad and I do not have much of a relationship even when I stay at his home. Although he attended college and earned a master’s degree, he seldom spoke to me about college or school. My circumstances did not make things easy, but I knew I had to pull through and excel academically. I enjoy reading and learning about new things. Focusing on school is what keeps me going. I know that if I want to have a better life, I have to work hard and stay on the path to success. Watching my parents endure a divorce helped me realize that education can change a life. Seeing my father’s accomplishments encouraged me to try my best in school and pursue a higher education. Struggling alongside my mother dared me to dream for a better life, one that isn't just financially stable, but mentally stable. I know that obtaining a college degree is important because it will earn me a good living, and will help me grow as a person. The positive experiences I will see in college will allow me to achieve greatness and obtain a better life. Receiving the Perlman Foundation scholarship would be a tremendous help for my educational goals. First and foremost, it will help pay for my education, which is something that I constantly worry about since my mother doesn't have much of a stable income and my father no longer provides financial support. Moreover, it will assist me on my pilgrimage to becoming independent, since I’d only be relying on myself to pay for my living expenses. Finally, in helping me pay for my education, this scholarship will make it possible for me to graduate from a university and become a successful Latina woman, a great achievement amongst my community and my family. An achievement I intend to accomplish by graduating from the University of Califronia Irvine with a Bachelors of Science.