“My name is Sapna Rampersaud and I am 19 years old in my second year at Harvard University. When most people look at me, they see a bright, confident, and successful young woman who seems to have been brought up with all the means necessary to reach the stars. Most people, however, don’t know that I came from a childhood that provided just the opposite. My youth was plagued with poverty after my parents got divorced.
When I was only seven and my father walked out on us, we struggled with unemployment, lack of food, and no hot water which meant waiting on lines at food pantries and showering with cold water (something that we still have to do to this day). Growing up on Long Island, it sounds uncanny, but my younger days were dark and seemed insurmountable. Luckily, at a very young age, I realized something that got me through the tough times and brought me much success.
I realized that I needed to use each obstacle in my life as a stepping stone to ascend me higher. I taught myself that the only thing that was going to push me forward was my education and dedicating the little that I had to it got me into Harvard. I never once let money, or lack thereof, get in the way of that dream. If sharing my better-forgotten past can help others see the potential in themselves and empower them to achieve the things that I have and more, then here it is. To this day, I look back on my childhood and see that it made me who I am today. I am proud of my accomplishments and hope to see the day where countless others who face similar struggles can smile through the challenges and use them to become successful. It is possible, and anyone can do it.”