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My adventure started high school summer of junior year in 2011. It was then when my family received our deportation letters, it marked the date of my immigration status as illegal. Until then I was sure that I was becoming an official resident of America. I went to a school in a different district that offered the International Baccalaureate (I.B.) program. I also took Advance Placement (AP) classes, participated in the Orange County Academic Decathlon, practiced hours of golf in order to go to CIF and be competitive, and I organized a community service club, all of this so that I can write a competitive resume and get into any college with high prestige. Imagine the devastation that I had felt when my mother handed me my deportation letter. I checked it once, twice, and many more times over. It took me a while to swallow this sorrowful pill.

Once I got around to really comprehending what had happened, my family made a decision to stay in America until I finished my Bachelors meanwhile we would petition and repeal the decision made by the immigrations. Looking back, I can still remember all the heartaches and the tears that I shed in remorse and hate of my wasted efforts and accomplishments. To those who have not experienced it, it is difficult to imagine the magnitude of the devastation of a teenager whose goals, ideals, and accomplishments become meaningless and impossible. I lost hope and had no motivation to continue with the I.B. program and AP classes that prepared me for college. I dropped the program and somehow got myself into ceramics in the middle of the first semester of senior year. I discovered a new talent in ceramics and for the rest of the year I hid myself away from this unfair world in the ceramics lab.

I sat through the last couple of months of high school bitterly listening to where my I.B. peers were going after high school. While they were entering Ivy Leagues and the UC system, I was headed to a community college, Fullerton Community College to be exact, only a few blocks down from where I live. It felt as if I was trapped, I could not get a license, could not afford a car, with everyone in my family working we barely made enough to pay rent and the bills. What pained me the most was my parents, who were successful, recognized personals in Korea, were working minimum wage, manual labor that made them cringe due to wrist pains in their sleep.

All this pain still is vivid in my mind and heart but my tears have dried and there is no more sorrow or bitter. My family and I, we all agree that we became stronger faster within the two years. As a family we have created a stronger bond, a bond that makes us happy and warm even without the Christmas gifts that we are not able to afford year after year. We smile more often because we know how lucky we are for being able to make it through the tough times without breaking apart. As for me, I became more active. On a smaller campus the opportunities more readily available, community colleges are truly a hidden gold. Fullerton College allowed me to envision what kind of a person I wanted to be and what I see myself doing and not doing. The value of my lessons and experiences at Fullerton College are priceless. Along the way I found a quote that inspired me to continue what I am doing, it is a Chinese saying translated to “learn as you go, gain wisdom by doing”. Fullerton College allowed me to start living this quote.

Alpha Gamma Sigma left the largest imprint during my years at Fullerton College. I was a member for a semester, then an executive board member the following semesters. Alpha Gamma Sigma allowed me to grow as a leader, discover the history of Fullerton College, and to analyze my true characteristics. I found my love of volunteering with my fellow AGS members. We are currently working on raising funds for a play Commonwealth Elementary students are volunteering their after school and weekends to practice. Majority of the students who attend Commonwealth are minorities from a low-income family. We, AGS, invited these students to come on Saturdays to come and work on art projects so that we can sell them and raise money for their play. AGS believes that it is our duty to help the community by supporting students who are working hard to achieve their goals. We want to show them that anything is possible. We also want to tell them that the best things come from hard work. There is a special bond between the students and the volunteers. AGS volunteers are honor students of Fullerton College and have been an inspiration to the estimate of 60 students who have attended our Saturday workshops. Importance of education and the importance of volunteer work has been shown to them, not just told. My experience with Commonwealth students and AGS volunteers has been a true inspiration. At first, this project was no more than just making money for the Commonwealth students to reach their dreams, but now it has become more than that. I firmly believe that through this project we have raised leaders, volunteers, and individuals who will lead a strong future.

If not for my experience with AGS at Fullerton College, I would not have seen the beauty of volunteering. I have volunteered hundreds of hours in high school with no purpose. Through Commonwealth I took my first bite into what I will continue to be passionate about. I will continue to volunteer with schools, working on projects, and showing students that anything is possible. I cannot see anything more important than raising leaders and volunteers of our future.