Born in an immigrant family and raised upon the values of hard work, perseverance, and respect-—which includes not speaking up against authority, I had never considered pursuing a career in the realm of politics. Nonetheless, gifted with a community of loving family, supportive friends, and an invaluable school and city, I have come to realize that one umbrella under which all of my academic, artistic, and community-driven passions can coalesce is public service.

“One must act as if one can make a difference”: All Ward fellows have John William Ward’s quote engraved in their minds. His words ring true today, for ambition and determination are the primary qualities that drive progress in our society. Fortunate am I to have parents and grandparents who defied all odds as they journeyed to the land of both opportunity and the unknown with nothing but grit in their grip and hope in their hearts. Their worn hands molded the resolve in my character and their sacrifices made me realize that great change starts with individual commitment—the individual commitment to educating oneself, to facing and tackling problems that may or may not have concrete solutions, and to contributing one’s efforts to benefit one’s community. Now, I feel as if I am the torchbearer of my generation, privileged enough to have the opportunity to give back to the people and institutions that have carried me thus far and that have bestowed upon me the confidence and courage to try new things.

If you had asked me several months ago what public service was, I would not have been able to answer—accurately, at least. Isn’t public service just administrative aid of sorts? Isn’t it just government officials sitting down to pass a few bills every once in a while? Isn’t it the spewing of rhetoric that we all see on television? The simple answer is no; public service embodies a sphere of unity and communal love for one’s homeland. It is devotion. It is selflessness. It is shaped by activism, debate, and many other elements that I have yet to discover. In applying for this fellowship, I sought to learn. I want to equip myself with the necessary tools and knowledge to produce change in our ever-growing society. It has always been a dream of mine to contribute to a populace greater than myself, and I can only imagine starting with a community that has given me so much.