Posted in Barnard College, College Essays

On Barnard Women (Why Barnard Supplement)

Aastha Jain, current Barnard student, and I are both members of Girl Be Heard, a socially-conscious theatre company. She told me I seemed like a Barnard woman, little did I know how great of a compliment that was. 

Barnard women are curious. While watching Prof. Janna Levin’s TED Talk on the sound of the universe, I was intrigued by the concept of thinking of the universe as a movie with music. Levin asks several questions concerning multiverses. Her innovative way of questioning is one that consistently yields breakthroughs across all fields of study. With professors like Levin, I’ll learn to question the world around me as she does.

Barnard women are uplifting. My favorite example of this is the Midnight Breakfast, a tradition where the administration serves students breakfast the day before finals. In Girl Be Heard, I found a support system of women who gave me enough confidence to last throughout high school. Barnard would give me a similarly overwhelming amount of encouragement, allowing me to achieve great feats in the various areas of study I’m interested in.

Barnard women are nearby. By staying in NYC, I’ll be able to forge a relationship between the eager students of Girl Be Heard and the high-achieving women of Barnard. The problem-solving methods I learn will be smoothly implemented in the surrounding areas, as I have already established relationships with four schools in the tri-state area through The Queen Next Door.

239/250 words

Posted in Amherst College, College Essays

Anti-Bias at School (Amherst College)

When asking what Amherst’s Diversity Interns would change about Amherst College, they responded that although Amherst brings in diverse groups of students, tensions between those groups persist on campus. The best problem-solving communities contain individuals with varied perspectives, but it is often overlooked how difficult it is to integrate them. How can we create an environment where integration is not only feasible, but consistently practiced?

My school has always known racism, sexism, ableism, and xenophobia existed in our community. Once realizing these biases can be eradicated, we created a space where they could be discussed. At the start of this school year, I became a founding member of the Equity Board: a group of students dedicated to making Bronx Science more inclusive. By having as many people of different backgrounds represented as possible, biases can be addressed to the fullest extent. My school made Equity Board a constructive space by inviting the Anti-Defamation League to conduct Peer Training workshops. We learned how to address bias outside of our school and create solutions appropriate for our environment, eventually becoming Peer Trainers ourselves. We are currently developing a curriculum to implement into Health classes for the next school year and planning an International Week where we share anti-bias tasks every student can perform. Equity Board went from a circle of observations to one of solutions. 

My experience of overcoming bias as a Peer Trainer will allow me to effectively do so at Amherst: a community where bright minds from all backgrounds come together to solve the problems of the state, country, and eventually, the world. By breaking down the tensions prevalent on campus, Amherst students can reach their maximum potential and take on anything their hearts desire. I only hope I can be one of them.

Posted in College Essays, Cornell University

March 24, 2018 (Cornell University, Human Ecology)

March 24, 2018. Washington, DC. March For Our Lives.

As a member of Girl He Heard, the socially-conscious theatre company I write and perform with, I’m often presented with performance opportunities at the hotspots of activism, but today I am using my voice to protest with fellow company members and our director, Kim.

“Parkland, Sandy Hook, Columbine.”
Gang violence? Police brutality?

No. School shootings only.

What about the Black and Hispanic students who are getting shot on a daily basis? You’re scared to go to school? So am I, but I’m also scared of selling CDs, of wearing a hoodie and holding skittles, of getting out my driver’s license, of awaiting trial. Of Living While Black: a dangerous crime in America.

My friend Nicoleta cries, “No one cares about gun violence until it happens to white people.”

Kim launches into a speech:
“It’s human nature. MLK knew they didn’t care until it affected their own people, but when they were finally listening, he jumped on and rode with it. That’s what we have to do now: jump on and ride with it, just make sure you’re included too.”

“My mother has always told me it’s only okay to cry if you cry with a purpose. We can tear up, sob, and mourn all we want, but it won’t change anything. We can cry, but it must be with a plan.” They look at me, nodding. Here, I was a military general, leading my women into a battle we may not see the end to. Our job is to continue the age-old fight that our ancestors started, whether we’ll be the ones to finish it or not. “We have to fill the city committees, state and national governments, everything we can, with people like us — people who look like us, who think like us, because Kim is right. No one is looking out for us. We have to take care of ourselves.” 

From that moment on, I embraced the fact that I have to be at the frontlines for the issues I care about. I started in my own school. To attack bias in Bronx Science, I became a founding member of Equity Board. 

“We know there are lots of problems in this school, but let’s pick one to tackle today,” the assistant principal suggested. Consisting of 20 principal-selected students, the mission of Equity Board is to make Bronx Science a more inclusive environment. As the home to a diverse student body, Bronx Science attracts people from all walks of life. However, our school isn’t perfect; prejudice persists.

“I think the most significant issue is our lack of unity. People tend to create cliques that exclude others. Unfortunately, these cliques are usually based on ethnicity,” I said. A list of potential solutions zoomed around inside my head: grade-wide mingling events, Respect For All lessons during homeroom, and more until… “What if we address bias in Health classes?”

So that became our goal. As you read this, we are developing an anti-bias curriculum to implement into Health classes for the next school year and planning an International Week where we share small anti-bias tasks that all students can perform such as reading news from varied sources and getting to know peers with different perspectives. My experience at the March For Our Lives motivated me to create change in my school, but I don’t plan on stopping there.

At the College of Human Ecology, I’ll be able to develop my problem-solving skills with individuals as solution-oriented as myself. With courses like Translation of Research into Policy and Practice for the Human Development major, I’ll learn how to implement my future research into several fields of study. Interdisciplinary problems call for interdisciplinary solutions, and the Human Development major will prepare me to attack social justice issues from all angles: psychology, medicine, and policy. The first step? Receiving a letter of acceptance from Cornell.

Posted in Amherst College, College Essays, Harvard University, Personal Statement

Girl Be Heard (Extracurricular Supplement)

On a Monday in February 2018, I shared my poetry at Danai Gurira’s birthday party for the cast of Black Panther. My piece stressed the importance of educating girls in Africa. Along with giving me the opportunity to hug the protagonist of my favorite movie, Girl Be Heard has allowed me to share my story with people from all over. I performed for thousands of young activists at Stay Amped: Everytown’s concert against gun violence in Washington DC. I also performed for the United Nations twice, emphasizing the importance of education at home and abroad. However, my proudest accomplishment took place in May 2018. Five months of rehearsing resulted in eight performances responding to American society. Our original work changed the hearts and minds of hundreds of people. These opportunities have fueled my love and wanting to give back to the socially-conscious theater company. After performing with Girl Be Heard for a year, I became a founding member of the Youth Advisory Council. Through this, I have made executive-level decisions regarding the values of the organization.

Girl Be Heard is a NYC-based socially conscious theater company dedicated to developing, amplifying, and celebrating the voices of young women and gender-nonconforming youth. Learn more about it here.

Posted in Amherst College, College Essays, Cornell University, Harvard University, Personal Statement

A Story Worth Sharing (Personal Statement)

“How did you feel about ‘Asians Are Smart’?” my history teacher asked. The homework was to read an article concerning the depiction of the model minority.

“I think it’s right. Asians are naturally smarter than other races,” a classmate said.

“Yeah, specialized high schools are majority Asian for a reason,” someone added.

“They are majority Asian because of the segregation of knowledge. My Black and Hispanic middle school classmates didn’t know the Specialized High School Admissions Test existed. There are plenty of us who are equally deserving-.” My voice cracked. Despite my internal pleads, I began to cry. I felt indignant, alone, and betrayed by my peers.

As the only Black student in every high school class I have taken, my melanin obligated me to speak on every phenomenon that affected Black Americans. Although I enjoy talking about my ancestors’ sense of community and resilience, sometimes I prefer to be taught in my history class rather than teaching others about the Black experience.

I do not mind educating others about my life. I mind my feelings—the very ones I’m asked to share—being rejected as if they were an incorrect answer rather than respected. I mind the pressure to represent all Afro-Latino students rather than just myself. I mind my classmates crediting my accomplishments to my skin color rather than my dedication. I mind taking space as the Black girl rather than Jordan.

My experience was not ideal nor unique. It was a part of a cycle; this was something I had to prevent from happening to the next student. Armed with a story begging to be shared, I waited for the right opportunity to step up to the microphone.

“And your 2017 National American Miss New York Jr. Teen is… Jordan Sanchez!” The room went quiet. I didn’t feel there anymore. I was back in my hotel bathroom, struggling to put on fake eyelashes. I was preparing to be interviewed by a panel of judges. Here, I explained not only why I deserved to win, but how I was already a queen in my own right. My experience of isolation would make me a relatable queen that can mentor others in similar situations. Together, the girls in my community and I can overcome our issues concerning self-worth. The tears flowed from my eyes to my cheeks as I stepped in front of the line of girls. With a bouquet of roses in one hand, a sparkly crown on my head, and a “Miss New York” embroidered sash across my chest, I took my first walk as queen.

Throughout my reign, I remembered the reason why I won: to be an uplifting role model for those in my community. After being rejected from an internship with the largest beauty pageant website, I started my own. I aimed to become a tangible titleholder, someone who felt approachable, genuine, and within reach, so I did just that. I became The Queen Next Door. Dedicated to building confidence in youth of color, my platform has made my story worth sharing. My sash has stood behind the podiums of multiple schools in the tri-state area, emphasizing the importance of confidence, patience, and a positive and forgiving attitude to over 1,100 Black and Hispanic students. My website has accumulated 2,000 views from twenty countries. My crown gave me a microphone and I am not afraid to shout. 

I take space as a problem solver, a Miss New York, a queen next door, an advocate, and a future world-changer… who is also Black. Although I cannot change the fact that people will connect my every move to preconceived stereotypes, I can change what I do about it. Everything I do contributes to a goal that is greater than I. I know I stand on the shoulders of giants, and for them, I want mine to be sturdy enough to stand on too. 

Word count: 650

Posted in College Essays, Harvard University

Imaginary Businesses (Harvard Supplement)

I was a professional makeup artist at age seven. My hours were limited to daily recess and after-school playdates in the park. My specialty was dramatic, prom-themed looks. With limited funds, my primary medium was sidewalk chalk dust. My associate, and later best friend, was the best chalk-crusher in the business and I had the pleasure of having her as my primary makeup vendor. Every day my fellow third graders would line up to get their eyelids carefully brushed with blue and orange chalk dust. Jordan’s Looks was a hit… until Oh Yeah replaced it.

Oh Yeah was a musical duo consisting of my trusty chalk dust supplier and I. Our original song “Save Me” was self-written and produced. We planned to debut in the spring of fourth grade, giving us the entire winter to solidify our performance. As a singer and dancer, I felt unbreakable. The world was my oyster and I was ready to harvest every pearl, even the ones that weren’t spelled correctly.

As a fifth grader with a successful small business and music group, I did the only thing left for me to do: write. On a school bus ride home, I created a fashion magazine called Blue Skys. Our assets were sealed in a painted-over shoe box donated to us by our only sponsor: Dad. My spare time went into drafting magazine layouts, sketching look books, and arbitrarily declaring what was “hot” and what was “not.” After school, I made a website; Blue Skys was ready to take on the internet… until I realized “skies” was spelled incorrectly the entire time. How embarrassing.

Maybe I should stay away from writing, I thought, so I did for a while. In sixth grade, I hit the ground running as a nail technician. The end of the lunch table was mine. Lined with napkins and half-empty nail polish bottles, everyone knew not to mess with Jordan’s corner because she meant business. My skills were confined to base coats and poorly-painted flowers, but the limited supply and high demand kept business booming. Soon, I outgrew childish nail designs and stepped into a new ballpark: manufacturing.

I was a triple threat in a difference sense: duct tape products, rainbow loom bracelets, and handmade earrings. As the only business of mine requiring financial investment, this industry was daunting to join at first. However, my worries were silenced when I started to see quarters and dollar bills flow into my pockets. After making a grand total of $7.50, I shut down my business in fear of the demand for duct tape wallets exceeding the time I was willing to invest in creating them. Since eighth grade, I’ve sat back and waited for the right opportunity to start a business… a real one this time.

The opportunity presented itself in autumn 2018. The Queen Next Door, my beauty pageant and lifestyle blog, had just passed 1,500 views and was starting to take space in the pageant community. At every pageant I’ve attended since the start of The Queen Next Door in April 2018, I’ve been asked if I am, in fact, The Queen Next Door, and how in the world did I start such a thing? The Queen Next Door, though small then, had the potential to grow even more, but how? To answer that question, I consulted elementary and middle school Jordan who responded with “You should try fashion again, but spell everything right this time.” Within the next few weeks, I spent countless hours and $2,221.10 on my online boutique launching on March 1.

Harvard College Admissions Officer, when you see a four-foot-tall package in the mailroom, do not be alarmed. It is only the inventory of a little girl finally realizing her dream of founding something in this great big world. She has grabbed onto it with both hands and, as tightly as her hold is, you can see she never plans to let go. Forever in my grip and always running in my mind, this is The Queen Next Store.