Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

She had come here with alone, the grandchild of a grandmother who had come to adulthood years after the death of slavery, seeking a different life that Trinidad couldn't provide to her. My grandmother worked so many years of her life trying to dig her way out of abuse, out of poverty, and spent so much of her time trying to dissect the experience of what it meant to be black in 1970's Brooklyn. She would buy my childhood home a decade later, and would spend the rest of her life trying to please any and everyone, giving bits of herself in everything she did. When she passed a few months before she could watch me walk at graduation, it set me onto an odd and lonely path. I was by myself with no idea how to navigate the politics of my university, without the friends I thought would remain with me throughout this venture, and with no idea of what would come after I left with my bachelor’s degree. I knew I had a deep seeded need to travel and eventually leave North Carolina, this place I had grown to call home. I ended up declaring Global Studies as my first major and adding Political Science by the second semester of sophomore year. Graduate school had been a vague thought in my head as something I should probably do, but could not conceptualize how to do. One night, I spent hours comparing and contrasting degree language on university websites, and researched American University’s Master’s of International Affairs, remembering my professor’s experience. I saw they offered a focus in Global Governance, Policy, and Security and was enthralled. Up until that point, I had yet to see a degree that aligned so perfectly with my undergraduate coursework. I applied, crossed my fingers, and waited what seemed like an eternity before I found out I was accepted. I start courses this fall, and while my path to American was strenuous and terrifying, it was all worth the work and sacrifices. When I graduate from my program, I'll be doing so with my grandmother beaming beside me.

Asha from North Carolina
American University