In Their Own Words – Ramses

LUCA is proud to launch the second #InTheirOwnWords series! Over the next few weeks, we will share personal statement essays written by the Latino U Scholars Class of 2022 so that our Scholars can introduce themselves and share their experiences – in their own words. All essays are shared with the permission of each Scholar. The essay below was written by Ramses, a Latino U Scholar from White Plains High School.


“What happened to your hand!?” 

Hearing someone ask this, who wouldn’t think they were gushing blood? But it was far from the crimson red I pictured; instead, a black substance coated my fingers and palms. “It’s just ink,” I laughed. Not ordinary ink, though, but ink from the fountain pen I had begged my mom for as a Christmas present. I had been longing for one: its sleek black shine and gold accents captivated me, holding the promise of elegant and unique writing. As with anything new and unfamiliar, unveiling that promise would take time. I had to practice writing smoothly to keep streaking and blotting to a minimum. Ink, like life, has other plans in mind, unpredictable as it flows through needle-thin crevices. 

The fountain pen has ambitions to write beautifully in extravagant cursive, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Maybe that is why I wanted one so badly. My own desire to strive and succeed runs seamlessly through my needle-thin arteries like ink through a nib. It pumps ambition and desire into everything I attempt, from tinkering with music to drawing, videography, and technology. When I first tried to play the trumpet, I sat in a room until my lips were numb, intent on mastering it despite my lack of experience. When I decided that I wanted to learn how to modify device software, I stared at the Apple logo on my phone for hours, determined to figure it out. Success in any endeavor can only be realized through aspiration for improvement and trial and error. There will always be mistakes along the way, just like the streaks and blots from the ink.

There is nothing quite like the ink in a fountain pen, with each color reflecting its own hue, shades, and attributes. Blessed with a unique name that people remember, I have never been one for conformity either. The unusual intrigues me. I seamlessly transition from a long school day or track practice to watching mathematics or programming YouTube videos such as Numberphile, 3Blue1Brown, or Harvard’s CS50. My curiosity grows as I learn and think deeply about the creative and unusual approaches to calculus, prime numbers, and the most ingenious and unique lessons on Python. However, I can just as easily transition to the more mundane, even simply helping out my mother at home. Like the multi-faceted nature of the ink, I have multiple aspects to myself. 

Life, like the swirling lines written by my fountain pen, is smooth….. until it isn’t. Just as ink streaks, I have had my share of messes, like unexpected family feuds, peer pressure, and the sight of my mother pushing through pain and tears for the future of her children. With an unreliable father, my mother was forced to add to her workload, cleaning house after house, room after room. Seeing her struggle, I realized the literal and physical weight she was carrying. When I began to feel pressured by friends to behave in ways I knew were wrong, I recognized that I had to clean up those “streaks,” determined to honor her sacrifices by achieving academic success. Though too young to work to help our financial instability, I took on extra household chores and also started tutoring my mom in math and science, so that she can obtain her GED. Some of the messes I’ve faced might have left a permanent stain, but with each year and each challenge, I choose new colors, working to follow new paths my life might take.

Through stained hands, spilled ink, and refill upon refill, I will continue to write my own story with as much elegance as I can muster, knowing that there will certainly be messes along the way.