Your individual circumstances are less important than how you choose to deal with them.

People weren’t born to be average; living a mediocre and unadventurous life is a disservice to yourself and everyone around you. The first step to success is to develop ambitious, well-defined and feasible goals. Determination, perseverance, and resilience are vital to achievement. I’ve learned that your individual circumstances are less important than how you choose to deal with them.

I grew up in a single parent home. What my family lacked in money, we made up for in personal strength and work ethic. Though my mother was disabled by a heart condition, she emphasized the importance of education and insisted I never settle for anything less than I deserve. My mother’s tenacity and strength always inspired me to reach higher and dream bigger.

During my sophomore year of high school, I noticed my surroundings were not the best; everything around me seemed dull and lackluster. I was frustrated by the poor quality of my education.

Upon recognizing I had to take matters into my own hands, I wrote to a prestigious private school in my area and asked them to admit me as a student. I knew that my mom could not afford the tuition, but I believed I deserved an excellent education. Though I wasn’t at the top of my class, I was ambitious and determined.

By articulating my goals, it became possible for me to take the steps needed to achieve them. I wanted nothing more than to become a student at this private school. With every fiber of my being, I had to believe that I would have the privilege of attending this school.

People don’t set goals they don’t want to accomplish, but sometimes they don’t realize that sacrifices are necessary

The Director of Admissions contacted me two days after I sent the school my letter and I began the admissions process.

I perfected my application and worked as hard as I could on every test. I was eventually admitted to the school, and I  went on to compete for a full-ride scholarship for low-income students based on academic merit. I won and was named a Malone Scholar! Not only did I get accepted to a prestigious school, I had the opportunity to attend for free.

I have learned that there will always be naysayers along the path to your dreams. Don't be discouraged by the negativity! Pessimistic outlooks and negativity can be used as fuel to power your rocket of success.

People develop the destructive habit wanting to prove others wrong, but it’s important to stay focused on yourself. Your inner-circle should be one of your biggest support systems. Your friends should be like-minded individuals who are just as goal oriented as you are.

 People don’t set goals they don’t want to accomplish, but sometimes they don’t realize that sacrifices are necessary. I would be lying if I said that my transition from public school to private school was easy. It was tough, both academically and socially. I remember crying myself to sleep many nights because I was such a terrible math student, but I didn’t give up. 

There will be times when you feel like a failure. There will be times when everything doesn’t go exactly as you planned.

Achieving success is a lot like climbing a mountain. You might tumble, fall, and scrape your knees sometimes. Once you get to the top of the mountain, you appreciate the difficult moments. Success is so much sweeter when you have persevered through the rough moments and endured through the pain.

My ultimate goal was to prepare myself for college and law school. I am a sophomore at Howard University now, and I realize that every tear and late night was worth it.  Switching schools may not seem like a major accomplishment, but it has made a world of difference in my life. I am forever thankful for my time spent there.


I believed that I had the power to change my surroundings. You have the power to make all of your dreams come true. Go forth and set the world on fire!

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AuthorKiana Knolland