This spring, Dugan & Associates ran an essay contest for high school students in the Pittsburgh area. Entrants were asked to compose a 500-word essay answering the following prompt: “Who in your life has most influenced your personal work ethic? How or why has that influence impacted your life?”
We received many excellent entries, all interesting and many inspiring. After reading through them all, one essay stood out to us. Stephanie Wang, an Honor Roll student and varsity swimmer at Peters Township High School, submitted an essay about the values her immigrant parents instilled in her and how they have helped her succeed.
Stephanie will receive a $500 scholarship. We’ve included her winning essay — may it inspire other students to not be afraid to work hard.
My parents were 1st generation immigrants from China. They came to America to pursue their American Dream, working incredibly hard in order to provide for me and my brother and give us a better life. They taught me the value of hard work, integrity, honesty, and community service.
My parents were both from rural, farming-driven areas in China. My mom told me how that she came to America with just $100 in her pocket. Working in her cafeteria job at her school, she started sending money to her family to help with two younger brothers in college. My parents also work very hard in their current career, my mom a Financial Manager at Highmark and my Dad a senior software engineer at ANSYS.
In addition to their careers, my parents also have taught me the value of money, hard work and perseverance. “Success is not forever, failure is not fatal” is my parents’ favorite phase. With my parents as my example, I have worked hard to be the best student and athlete I can be, and impact the community that gave so much to my family and me.
In addition to having a 4.0 unweighted GPA and making Highest Honor Roll every quarter, I’ve taken the most rigorous coursework at my school as well, graduating with a total of 16 AP classes and earning a “5” on each AP test I’ve taken so far. I’ve also been awarded distinctions like National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar.
I’ve also been dedicated to my sport. A swimmer since six years old, I’ve also dedicating time to improve myself and others around me. On the high school varsity swim team, I have almost perfect attendance, waking up at 5:15 am to go to the morning practices before school and staying after school until 5:00 for afternoon practice every day. My hard work has paid off, as every year of high school, I’ve lettered, qualified for WPIALs, and won Scholar Swimmer.
Looking towards the needs of my community, I coordinated and taught a Summer Math Olympiad, and organized a Girls in STEM Conference for teenage girls in Pittsburgh to connect with female STEM leaders and learn negotiation skills, and helped pass Paid Sick Leave legislation in Pittsburgh affecting thousands.
Besides leading STEM workshops and events my robotics team hosts, I also promote diversity and inclusion by volunteering for the Pittsburgh Chinese Academy which offers Chinese culture and language classes. On the Leadership Council of GirlGov, an organization consisting of 100 girls that promotes civic involvement and political advocacy, I’ve organized peers on campaigns such as implementing comprehensive sex education in schools and closing the gender wage age.
I am so grateful to my parents for their lessons on the importance of a good work ethic. Every day, I seek to make them proud–to pay them back for their sacrifices and perseverance by working hard inside and outside of the classroom and making a positive difference in my community.
Congratulations, Stephanie, and may you have the best of luck in your future!