Congratulations Sisy C.
Paramount Tall Club of 2021 Chicago Scholarship Award Winner
Her application essay follows
Growing up, I hated standing out of the crowd. I stood a head above everyone else in my elementary school, and I was an anomaly in my short Chinese family. My height steadily increased year after year and during family renunions, I was surrounded by exclamations of “Aiya! Ni chī shénme kěyǐ zhǎng gāo?!” (which translates to, “what do you eat to become so tall, you giant?!”). Towering over my grandparents at age twelve, I became self-conscious of my unusual height – reluctant to accept a piece of my own identity. In an attempt to blend with those who surrounded me, I hunched over and kept my head down.
However, as I’ve ventured into the world of high school, I’ve come to realize that being tall comes with many perks. Being tall means that I can fly through the air and spike down the ball for my volleyball team. Long arms coupled with a 25 inch vertical allow me to put up an unbreakable wall over the net, one that deflects spikes away from our side of the court. Feeling the loud smack of the opponent’s spike bouncing off my palms elicits many cheers from the crowd
and a rush of satisfaction that is truly unparalleled. While being tall is most definitely an advantage in athletics, I’ve also learned that hard work is what really counts. Every grueling squat jump, sit-up, and deadlift during practice is fueled by my undying desire to improve and to make use of my every inch of height during games.
Being tall has also given me the title of the one “tall friend”, who can help reach higher shelves for someone else who may not be able to. I’m the long-limbed friend who gives big bear hugs, the go-to selfie taker for big group pictures, and often the point person who can see the correct stop over the many heads on a crowded subway train.
Most importantly, however, being tall has instilled a natural sense of confidence and leadership within me. My height allows me to command the room with my presence, capturing the attention of the audience during presentations, whether it is for a class project or a summer research symposium. Hearing my voice ring with clarity amongst the room encourages me to stand taller, feet planted firmly into the ground. My height has also granted me a special level of accountability; people around me often look up to me for my leadership and direction. I take on this role with pride, and I strive to lead by example through service to the community. At the
Chinese Mutual Aid Association, I’ve initiated a bilingual learning program for low-income, immigrant, and refugee youth, helping students transition to an unknown world through mentorship. This summer, I organized a pen pal program with the RUSH Alzheimer’s Disease Center to combat senior isolation in underserved nursing homes during the pandemic.
My journey to paving the way for meaningful change in the
world and serving the community is far from over; I look forward to continuing my leadership within my future community in college and beyond. Being tall is a special gift, one that has played a key factor in shaping my worldview and confidence. My height is an undeniable part of who I am, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Now, instead of hunching my shoulders over to fit it, I can proudly say that I cherish my height- holding my head high as I tackle problems before me.