My name is Sofia, I’m an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley working on my Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. I’m a first-generation college student in my family. I’ve earned two Associate of Science degrees- one in Child Development and another in Early Childhood Education- and then transferred to a four-year university where I’m expecting to graduate this Spring.

Getting to this point in my life hasn’t been easy. When I was 1-year-old, I was diagnosed with leukemia. The first three years of life were spiritually and mentally difficult. As a young child, I knew nothing about the procedures, treatments, or the hospital routines. However, I did know that I had to be strong to fight back. I put my faith in God to give me the strength to persevere and succeed. Type your paragraph here.

The intense treatments and painful procedures never stopped me from smiling. Smiling always made me feel good. At the age of 4, after three years of fighting cancer, my body was finally in remission. For the next 7 years of my life, I lived a normal childhood. There was nothing that excited me more than riding my bike on a summer afternoon and eating ice cream on my front yard with all my friends. But life had a different path for me.

My health started to weaken again when I was 11-years-old. For a moment, I thought that the cancer had returned. After days of testing, I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. I changed from an extremely active, rough-and-tumble little girl into a severely weak, lethargic, and sick child. I spent the next three months in the hospital waiting for a heart. My Child Life Specialist got me into arts and crafts.  I loved making paintings to give as gifts to my friends and fellow children in the hospital. Days seemed to pass so slow but on New Year’s Eve 2006, I received my new heart. 

Coping with cancer and receiving a heart transplant helped me grow stronger as a person. I did not lose myself in the chaos and the pain. I took my experiences and let it define me to the very core. There is nothing I can do to change the pain cancer and heart transplant caused for me. I had cancer. I got through treatment and it left its mark - eventually needing a new heart.

Cancer changed my life because it changed me. I was 1-year old with a whole life ahead of me when I was first diagnosed. I had goals, dreams,…plans. I am now 22 years old pursuing a degree at one of best global universities. I still have the same goals, dream and now many more plans. But I also have a deeper realization now - life is not contained in what I can imagine.  I now know that life has a much greater potential than my imaginings can formulate. Anything can happen and so much more has happened than I ever thought possible. 

My undergraduate education in Sociology at UC Berkeley has inspired me to work in alleviating social inequalities through informal education initiatives, especially in the lives of children. Through various internships and job opportunities in the Bay Area and outside the country, I have been able to see the injustices faced by marginalized youth and families across the globe. I will utilize my skills and the experiences I have gained in a career in the non-profit and legal sectors.

Upon graduation, I want to be part of a policy maker organization that helps improve access to justice and ensure fair outcomes for all. Through my hard work and dedication to social justice, I want to be able to reframe the social justice issues as human rights violations, expand the circle of allies to the larger global human rights community and recognize people who are marginalized.

I have a strong passion to advocate for equity and strive to end racial inequities that are still present and are still being created by current systems, institutions, policies, and laws. In the future, I hope to start a project and create a non-profit with the mission to ignite courage and expand capacity to bring more justice to the world and help ensure that every individual facing a crisis receives the best resources. My vision is to see all individuals thrive and become full, participating members of our shared communities. I believe in the power of policies, and representation and advocacy to create new understandings about the unjust oppressions that we continue to see in our world.