A small islander's American Dream

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Krystal Nichols
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I was born in the city of Newark, New Jersey but very quickly moved to my father’s home island of St. Lucia, West Indies. Growing up on a Caribbean island is a privilege I will forever be grateful for. From the picturesque scenery to the hard work and determination of its inhabitants, it is truly an inspiring setting for a young child growing up. However, as much as I adore my island, life in a third-world country is as difficult as you could imagine.

Envisioning a better future

Growing up I was always taught that nothing worth having in life was handed to you and that only those who persevered would succeed in life. There was no time for dream-chasing because there were hours to be put into more important career-building pursuits. I watched my mother, a foreigner to St. Lucia as well, work tirelessly to ensure the best quality of life for her three children. I saw many other adults that I respected deeply, struggle to find jobs in their fields that would earn them a decent living. That was not the life I envisioned for myself nor my family in the future. I quickly realized that my only way out was to get the best education I could.

Facing fears

Towards the end of my high school career, I took on my first leadership position as a prefect. In this role I would be responsible for ensuring my assigned classroom was well behaved and at the daily school assembly on time. Though I struggled miserably as a shy student “pretending” to be a leader, I learned many valuable skills and my confidence had increased by the end of my term. I realized that even the scariest, most intimidating opportunities had a lesson to teach.

Saying ‘yes’ to opportunities

Once I finished my studies in St. Lucia, I decided that the best way for me to further my education was to return to America to get a college degree. The move to a first world country without my family was such a culture shock to me, but I did not let my intimidation get the better of me. Knowing what my stakes are makes it so much easier to say “yes!” to opportunities that come my way. I have since accepted many more leadership roles, including my most recent as Vice President of Fellowship for my school’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter. Though I still struggle with my confidence from time to time, I know that I can make it through. Success is but a mindset.