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Sample Disadvantaged Student Status Essay for Admission to Dental School, Applicant from Bolivia

My family faced an uphill battle for stability my entire life, with little choice but to move frequently in a constant quest for economic survival as undocumented immigrants. My parents fled their native Bolivia because it is an oppressive, poverty-stricken country offering little to no hope for the future. 60% of Bolivian children drop out of school before completing the 6th-grade, most to work in the coca fields of the highland areas.

My parents lived in constant fear of deportation, far away from their families, struggling to earn a living and make progress in a foreign language, living on the margins of a culture that they saw as fundamentally alienating. The emotional toll of living from one paycheck to the next, the constant strain of searching for inadequate housing that might be better than what we had. Our struggle to survive in a decent way was assisted by the kindness of an older Indian couple that had immigrated a generation before. They were our landlords but also our friends, and in time we became like surrogate members of the same family. They allowed my parents to rent an apartment in their building with no deposit, at reduced rent in exchange for lawn work that I did as one of my chores. While it was only a modest 1-bedroom apartment, it was for us a castle, especially for me when I was able to take over half of the laundry room for my very own first bedroom. My Indian ‘grandparents’ even picked me up from school so that I did not have to walk for 2 miles each day to return home; thus, my parents were able to work longer hours and we achieved a dignified level of physical comfort for the first time.

As a child, during vacations from school, there was no family trips or summer school for me; I got lost almost every day in the stacks of the local public library, amongst the stories of C.S. Lewis, Golding, Knowles, etc. A dreamer at heart, I began to search for my own way in a complicated world and a forebodingly strange culture, trying to bridge gaps for myself and my parents who spoke only limited English with a very thick Spanish accent. At the library, I had my first encounter with a computer; between book chapters, I would sign up for a 30-minute slot. I started by signing up for an email account and ultimately learned quite a bit about computer programming. A librarian took notice of my interest and the fact that I was there six-days a week during the summer months. She took a liking to me and began to let me take apart old computers so that I could examine them and put them back together again.

I worked hard in high school to make my parents proud of me. I hoped to be able to relieve some of their burden in time. By the time that I was 15 and a sophomore, we decided together that it was time that I increase my contribution to the family and I began to work part-time jobs after school. To this day, I am unable to entirely shake off the smell in my mind of the back kitchen of a local seafood restaurant: purging, cleaning and boiling crawfish. During the summer months, rather than cruising around, flirting with girls, and eating ice cream, I was the one making the ice cream and serving it, along with snow cones, throughout the course of the scorching summer months. 

I have learned to be resilient through ups and downs, especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans and taking almost all of what my little family had been able to accumulate in terms of furniture and other household items. Many others lost everything and were forced to rebuild, but it was especially grim for my family, with so very little, to start all over again. The cyclical moving restarted with my parents always chasing another job, with the next move, we always hoped to regain our sense of normalcy, but it remained elusive. We moved four times to three different states during my junior year of high school alone. That instability forced me to repeat my junior year as I didn’t spend enough time at any one school to earn enough credits to pass.

My parents never stopped struggling, multiple jobs, sacrifices dear to the heart and close to the bone, throughout the time that I was a student in college. I continued to help economically by working work-study jobs, but I found satisfaction in the fact that I was no longer cleaning fish or serving ice cream and snow cones to rich kids; but, instead, working in a laboratory contributing to the advancement of valuable research in the physical sciences.

I thank you for consideration of my professional dreams in dentistry, making possible my academic excellence through the economic support that would enable me to give my all to my studies, and to research. I am 100% Bolivian and, while I do not know our homeland well, I feel called there by the shear poverty, and most of all the lack of accessibility to dental care. Even basic dental care is simply out of reach of large swathes of the population, primarily in terms of cost, but also as a result of remote locations. Being awarded Disadvantaged Student Status would greatly facilitate my capacity to pursue dentistry with a preferential option for the underserved and return to Bolivia where the need is very great, preparing me for a lifetime of service to those in greatest need.

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For more than 20 years, I have assisted students applying to Dental School or Medical School with their Disadvantaged Status Essays. It pleases me to contribute to diversity in dentistry this way and to making dentistry a truly global profession.

Disadvantaged Status Essay for Medical School, 300 Word Limit, Cuban in Miami

I am a disadvantaged student for several reasons, economic, physical, and psychosocial. My mother arrived in the USA on a boat from Cuba in 1982, at the age of 18, speaking no English at all. She would meet my Cuban father in Miami where I was born and raised. He was alcoholic and abusive and I was raised primarily by my maternal grandmother and my mother who was almost always at work – one of her multiple, menial jobs. I was born into the lowest echelons of a highly-stratified Cuban immigrant community with the odds stacked against me from the beginning.

My skull was operated on at the age of 2 and I was left with a scar from ear to ear. My mother and I never qualified for any kind of public assistance while I was growing up. She did the best she could to make payments on this surgery; and we suffered in the shadow of these medical bills throughout my childhood. I was left to grapple with an emotional wound as well as a physical scar since I was subjected to derision by other children because the scar was quite noticeable; I felt as if I were somehow branded as inferior.

My medical bills represented a great challenge for my mother and I, since she was selling flowers at traffic stops during the day and working as a Nursing Assistant at night. Thus, when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 15, I felt obligated to quit school so that I could work and help to pay the family expenses. I have always worked two jobs, throughout college as well as high school. Beginning in a car wash, I moved up to food service and became a manager, then a security guard. I thank you.

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