On this day, exactly one year ago, I set off from Singapore to go to the New World.

Although I want to change peoples’ lives for the better, I recognize that I am the one being changed the most through all the relationships, conversations, and struggles in the past 21 years. Thank you all my friends — especially those from different cultures — for working in my life and sharpening me as iron sharpens iron.

Although I consider myself Singaporean, America holds a very big place in my heart as what happens here shapes the rest of the world, for better or for worse. I can neither change the minds of world leaders nor have the wisdom to do so. But I will continue working hard here as a student, in the hopes that, one day, what was invested in me was not wasted.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I could study Chemical Engineering. At age 18, I picked up my A-level certificate and read, to my dismay, ‘CCC’ for my main subjects, Economics, Maths, and History. In the 3 years since then, I have met so many people whose lives and stories encouraged me not to let the A-levels define my life but look at where I fit in the greater narrative of the world.

If I died today, I would die happy knowing that I had at least contributed this to the world, that a Humanities student rejected by all major Singapore universities can change paths and pursue STEM elsewhere.

No one knows what the future holds — only God does — but my hope is that this story still in progress encourages you in any way to not just look at your limited strength and circumstances but to look up for wisdom and around you to the needs of the world. Every day will be worth it.