My Hidden Story | Duke University Undergraduate Application Essay

If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “Wait, you aren’t white?” I would probably be a millionaire. Unfortunately, dollars do not shoot at me whenever I hear that question. To clarify, I am half Puerto Rican, half Cuban, and half I-have-blonde-hair-and-am-really-pale. We have a running joke in the family that all the Hispanic was used up on everyone else, and by the time I came around there was none left. Now, this is not to say I see my appearance as a burden. Frankly, it is a characteristic I have come to hold dear.

When I was a kid, my mother simultaneously taught me to speak Spanish and English. I remember clearly the many little books she would share with me, each full of new words and phrases, and how there seemed to be an endless supply of them. On top of this, I enjoyed playing a game with my older sister called repeat-everything-Nicky says-until-she-starts-wondering-why-I-am-alive. “¡Para de repetir lo que digo!” and “¿Dónde están las galletas?” became two of my favorite phrases. Once I started school, I discovered that most of my classmates spoke only one language: English. I did not understand. Why had they not learned both? My Spanish felt like a secret superpower. Later, my parents explained that I had a…

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