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  • Jackie Zheng

Jacky - Meringoff Award Class of 2021


I first got involved with Urban Dove Team Charter School through my school counselor, Todd, from my previous school, BCS. I had been behind on my grades, refusing to take certain classes, skipping school, going home after lunch and being a bad student. This had been going on for two years, until 11th grade, when Todd started to talk to me about options for other schools, to rapidly gain credits to graduate. UD was the first choice to come up, Todd mentioning that a friend of mine had transferred there a few months earlier, and that UD was a good choice, both for the rapid gain of credits and for seeing a familiar face. Thus, my choice, while not my own, was picked. To be honest, I had dreaded the thought, transferring to a new school, leaving the environment which I had known for 2 years and leaving my friends. Those few weeks leading up to the transfer were terrifying at first, then I had come to somewhat accept it, still resistant to leaving.

When I arrived, I accepted my transition. I met my friend Sam from BCS, and a new friend, Isaiah, who Sam had met after he transferred to UD, and we hit it off quickly, finding a common interest in video games and anime. The first year, I was determined to do better as a student, and the first step was to attend classes and to obtain credits. It worked, I was attending, doing my work, though I still had some problems, like getting distracted or talking too much, but at least I was in school. The second year was, unremarkable, nothing much I can remember, but what made me stay for so long, was the idea that I couldn’t fail, not this time. I did not have another shot, for UD was my last chance at graduating. I was also spurred on by the thought of failing my parents, disappointing them even further. It was a harsh thought, but it was necessary. That was until the third year, my last. I had been doing ok, not where I wanted to be, but ok, and then the pandemic struck, and all that effort went down the drain. I fell back into a vicious cycle of skipping classes, losing contact with teachers, and being a bad student. It was too burdening, was my thought. It wasn’t until the year was nearing its end, that I had come to realize how pathetic I was. Here I was struggling to even get up to attend virtual classes, from my home, and my parents had to go out to work, every single day, working ungodly hours at night, just to take care of me, as they had been for every single day of my life. And I had done nothing for them but be an unfilial son, a wastrel. So I got my act together, went back to school, and stayed, because I had to if I wanted to become a better student, a better person, and a good son.

Friends like Sam and Isaiah, teachers like Mr. Rivera, the video game club we made together, the bond we formed, something I will not easily let go, not even decades later. Things like Hi-risers and College All - Stars, which instilled in me a sense of work responsibility, and college tours, which gave me a vision, a goal to aim for, and then eventually surpass to even greater heights. My expectations of what life will be like after college, after I’ve had Urban Dove come into my life, are unsure, in all honesty, because even now I don’t know what will happen. My aspirations, despite how high they might be now, are to become a physicist, to work in science, to better the world in some way.

To say my time at UD was unfulfilling or a waste of time, would be untrue, I had met good people who were willing to help me with every step of my school life, who were there to protect and nurture me. I definitely have people who are there for me when I need them and will support me both emotionally and professionally. I will hold my head high, because I realise that it’s alright to be afraid and unsure, that’s just how life is. As long as I can keep on walking towards the future, it’s okay to trip and fall, as long as I can get back up, it’s okay. So that’s what I’ll do, and hopefully what I keep on doing long after I leave school. After all, that’s what Urban Dove taught me.

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