I knew since early on in high school, that I wanted to become a nurse. The fastest and most direct way for me to achieve that goal was to pursue an undergraduate degree in Nursing. Like any other health science major—competition is high, and spots are few. I knew I had to work harder, and be willing to put in more blood, sweat and tears than my peers, if I wanted a success story in the end.
If you’ve recently been through the college admissions process, or are in that process right now, you know just how nerve wrecking and competitive it is. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t get accepted into a single school. I hoped and prayed that even just ONE university would accept me, and that I’d have the opportunity to pursue a career in the field that I loved. By November 1st, I submitted all of my college applications. On November 15th, I received my FIRST acceptance—I was going to college!!! Ultimately, I was accepted at every university I applied to, and I am currently now attending my dream program at my dream school at UCLA.
The most frequently asked question I ALWAYS receive is, “How did you get into nursing school? What’s the secret?” I’m about to share that TOP secret weapon with you right now. But it may not be the answer you’re expecting. It’s not about getting the best GPA, high test scores, or even networking and having awesome recommendations. There is ONE main reason that I was able to make it to where I am now.
What is it exactly?
At the age of 3, my mother and father brought me to the United States. I was quite an energetic and independent minded child, and my parents decided that Japan may not be the best learning environment for me. My mother and I came to California not knowing a single word of English. Moving to the United States meant a huge change in the environment, and interaction styles with others. Despite this, my mother was not about to let me forget about my cultural backgrounds just because of our move. On Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays, we spoke Chinese at home. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, we spoke Japanese at home. Sundays, I got to choose! My mother sacrificed her own time to learn English and instead spent an immense amount of effort continuing to teach me to how to read, write and speak my native languages.
At a very young age, she taught me to be very independent, and speak up for myself. Sometimes she would wait outside a restaurant, and have me order take out in Chinese. I remember being so angry when I was younger—my heart raced every time I did it, and I would always stumble over my own words. I could not see that those actions were done out of love, and done in hopes to build me up into a strong individual. While it would have been so much faster and easier for to just place the order herself, my mother took every opportunity to build me up into a confident speaker.
I did ballet, gymnastics, played 3 different instruments, went to Chinese and Japanese school—my schedule was jam packed, full of all of the things that I loved to do. My mother never forced me to do anything I didn’t want to, but made sure that whatever it was that I participated in, I did it to the absolute best of my ability. At one point I asked my mom, “Mom, can I just be like the other kids and just play all day?” Good thing she convinced me otherwise.
As I grew older, I really began to stand out from my classmates. I was ahead of the game in terms of extracurricular activities, public speaking abilities, and time management skills. After learning from mistakes time and time again, during high school, I was able to see the fruits of my labor when I was finally getting accepted for the leadership positions, scholarships, and committees I applied for!
Even with putting in all the hard work in the world, the result is not always what we desire. There are so many times I didn’t do as well as I wanted to on a test, butchered an interview—you name it. Through all of that, my mother never once scolded me for not doing well enough. She would say, “You did your best. I am so proud of you.”
When I used to stay up to study for a test, my mother would stay up with me—every single time—making sure I wasn’t hungry, or there wasn’t anything I needed. I once pulled an all-nighter to finish a group project that was clearly my individual effort. My mom was up with me throughout the night, gluing all these little molecules I had printed out onto a poster board.
So, if you want to know the best way to get into nursing school, or achieve your biggest goals in life, my answer is this: have a strong support system, and trust that those relationships will help build the strength to get you to where you need to be. Work as hard as you can, but have people who love who can support you through the highs and the lows.
About the author:
Miki Rai is a 4th-year nursing student based out of Los Angeles, California. She is trilingual, speaking English, Chinese and Japanese. Miki is passionate about working as a patient advocate, and simplifying healthcare concepts in a way that patients and their families can understand. She has also been a volunteer with the American Red Cross for 9 years, and served as part of their National Youth Council. Outside of school, Miki enjoys running, working on independent research projects, connecting with others on social media, and of course spending time with her adorable puppy. Follow Miki on Instagram!