Do you feel that your academic record (I.e. grades, course load, etc.) is an accurate reflection of your ability and potential? In comparison to your college friends and classmates, do you feel that you were particularly advantaged or disadvantaged? Although my recent academic performance is excellent, I wasn't always able to devote my complete energy to my schoolwork. I was enrolled in the South American University of Engineering during the collapse of the Brazilian government, when the country underwent unprecedented economic turmoil and uncertainty. In a short period of time, my country experienced hyperinflation, millions lost their jobs and the cost of living skyrocketed. My family and I lost our life savings. Rather than focusing on school, I found myself struggling for survival.
I'm proud that I was able to exercise the enormous energy required to balance my schoolwork and part-time employment. Yet the stress of the economic overhaul made it impossible to concentrate on my studies.
Many days, rather than preparing for exams, I stood in line for hours to buy food. My grades from the South American University of Engineering reflect the stress of these dire circumstances, rather than my actual ability. Yet the stressful situation helped me to re-evaluate my beliefs, aspirations and plans. Although my grades suffered, surviving such a traumatic experience clarified my goals, challenged my time-management skills and provided the strength to overcome future obstacles.