I can see the sunrays peeking out of the clouds, and they blind me sometimes. I can hear my coach screaming at me to push forward when we are in possession of the ball. I can feel my heart racing as I near the goal. I can taste the tears as I press my eyelids closed, trying to restrain them. These tears taste sweet, as they are the result of hard work and a job well done. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there have been plenty of tears that tasted bitter because I have fallen short of my goal on more than one occasion. And then there is blood. Sometimes I am wounded along the way, and blood is shed. Sometimes the wounds that I have suffered are not visible because they are on the inside, and at all times, I must wear my game face. I am the captain after all: an accomplishment that was only attained through persistence and perseverance. My journey to success on the soccer field has mirrored my journey to success in the classroom; neither has been easy but both have been achieved.

In the classroom I used to be blinded by the overwhelming content until I figured out that these rays of enlightenment needed to be filed in such a way that I could retrieve them when needed. I made my own sunglasses; it is a system I use to filter and sort the information in my mind. Through the trials and tribulations of my academic journey, I have felt supported and encouraged to push forward when there is an obstacle standing between me and success. My heart races as I near completion of an academic challenge — a project, a quiz, a test, a presentation, a final exam. I can taste the tears not knowing yet if they taste bitter or sweet or maybe even bittersweet as I wait in suspense to know how the professor will evaluate the fruits of my labor.

The first weeks of the semester were challenging — a new environment, a new structure. Looking back on my academic journey of my first semester, I wouldn’t be lying if I said that recent days have been filled with greater success than when I started. My grades have increased steadily as the difficulty of the courses has grown exponentially. I have found the balance of work and play. I have figured out with persistence and perseverance that indeed I can attain my goal. My command of the soccer field has given me the confidence to realize that not only am I the captain of my team, but I am the captain of my own destiny.