My True Hero: my Father
“The Sky Is Not Your Limit” this phrase often echoes in my ears throughout my childhood. Growing up, my mother will always remind me that I am the co-creator of my reality and as long as I am accountable for my actions, I will always be present. Today I stand here still in disbelief and grateful that I have achieved a rare and prestigious scholarship for the Airforce Pilot Program.
Growing up, my mother gave me the best she could. Amidst trying to provide my younger sister and I a fun and memorable childhood with visits to the zoo and beaches, my mother also sent us for classical ballet lessons and classical music training. We were never excited about waking up early morning on weekends just to go through hours of piano lessons. And we were definitely not excited to spend at least 3 hours after school every day for classical ballet lessons and extra tuition classes. She often added, “I know you are tired but you will see that this is an investment, you do for yourself and you will thank yourself for it- I promise you” Today I saw all that she has given and taught me serve an indelible purpose in my life and future. One of my dreams was to be a student of JFK High School –(I am not just saying this because my principal is possibly reading this) I wanted to be a student at JFKHS so much that my dad had to move us so that we could be in district. While I’ve never seen a principal so hands on and professional in running a reputable school that boasts 1,700 students, I was excited to learn of the many programs JFKHS offered. Due to unfortunate circumstance, I joined JFKHS during my second year in high school. My ultimate desire for attending JFK was to join the AF JROTC program. Because I enrolled late, I was told that the AFJROTC was full and I had no chance. I was broken hearted. But again, thanks to my dad Frank San Nicolas, – my hero, a retired US Army Ranger of the 75th Ranger Regiment and a former US Marine, he moved the earth just to help me achieve my dream of joining the AF JROTC program. I didn’t know what he did, but I got in. I know I do not stand here today just on my own merit. I am aware of the people who were there to help me to get where I am today. And my promise to you is that I will make you proud.
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Being in JFK garnered my interests in robotics and artificial intelligence. Thanks to Miss Buesolleil and support of the school, I represented JFKHS two times in the last year. And dad… Thank you also for sending me to University of Wisconsin for my AI summer program. Now I have finally come to a realization that I have always loved Aviation. Looking back, each time we travelled in commercial air crafts, my mother would ask the captain of the aircraft if my sister and I could sit in the cockpit. She wanted us to have a feel and picture what it would be like to be in control 42,000 ft in the air, travelling up to 1000 kilometers per hour. I recall my mother explaining the “drag”. Why aircrafts cruise at high altitudes. The higher the altitude the less dense the air, therefore less resistance to stop the aircraft moving through the air. She further gave an analogy of moving my hand through water or some kind of thick solution- like syrup. That it takes less effort to move your hand through the water, and this is exactly the same principle with an aircraft flying at higher altitude compared to low altitude. As a 6-year-old, I didn’t register anything but syrup …One morning, I took pancake syrup and poured it in a see-through container, threw in a small marble and “dragged” it from left to right. I just could not believe how hard it was to move in the syrup! I cannot imagine travelling across the world in that speed!
Winning this scholarship have also strengthen and given me the motivation to pursue my dreams of attending the Airforce Academy. I look forward to attending the four-year military service academy and be a part of its world-class alumni. I am aware that competition for appointment to the Academy is extremely high. But I know with a strong personal drive to achieve, perseverance, a balanced well-rounded record of achievements, accompanied with records of my leadership appointments, I can contribute this greater cause. I look forward to The Academy training and foundational leadership experiences in the hopes that it will help me become an officer in the United States Air Force.
When I was asked to share what makes a success story? My answer is “a lot” It is not just who you are as a person but also those around you. For those kind-hearted individuals who have helped me and had faith in my abilities, I thank you. My mother, those difficult weekend mornings of piano lessons have helped me. Now when I am stressed, I play the piano and my other musical instruments. Those painful and tiring ballets lessons and extra tuition classes taught me discipline and time management. The challenging but rewarding experience pushed my physical and emotional limits, expanding my understanding of what I can achieve. My Ranger dad often reminds me, “If you want something, you have to want it so bad that you feel it in your bones. That sacrifices often leads to amazing discovery and strength. And most importantly, you have to have faith and be grateful for your own personal journey that makes you unique. There is only one of you. Be the best self that you can” To my little sister Catherine, thank you for reminding me that what we endure and go through in life serves to only make us a better version of ourselves.