From Small Town to Big City

July 30, 2013 /

Johnny Flores visits the September 11th memorial site in New York, NY.

Johnny Flores visits the 9/11 memorial site in New York, NY.



Different was the one word that couldn’t escape my mind getting off of the airplane inside John F. Kennedy airport in New York. In Coachella, there are no skyscrapers or Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner. There isn’t as much diversity when walking down the streets.

New York is a bright, big and beautiful city, and it was just the first stop of a weeklong trip.

Our trip began with me feeling a bit out of sorts, because our first stop in the Big Apple was to the September 11 Memorial. After passing through several different metal detectors and emptying my pockets on several different occasions, I finally made it; I was standing on ground zero. The same ground where thousands of Americans lost their lives, and where terrorists struck in an attempt to send a message.

Vast never ending pools greeted me; they lay where the original twin towers stood. On each of these pools is engraved the names of those who lost their lives on that fateful day. Surrounding me, were four different skyscrapers that tower over New York. By my side were hundreds if not thousands of people admiring the resilience of the American people. These same thousands of people were from all walks of life, yet somehow we were brought together by one tragic event and the creation of one beautiful art piece.

As my trip went on, we toured the must-sees in New York, the Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Garden, and Empire State Building. However, it wasn’t until our last day in New York when we visited a place I only knew through pamphlets, Columbia University.

A 30-minute subway ride took us into the heart of Morningside Heights where my dream college lies. A large Ivy League campus surrounded by greenery and students of all sizes and color. After an hour-long orientation with a director of admissions, we were off on a tour across the campus. Our tour guide, Fin, took us from the location of the Manhattan Project to the Dodge Center of Art and back.

Before I knew it, I was back in the library where I first started, this time with a different outlook. I’ve wanted to attend Columbia since my freshman year in high school. Creative Writing is what I plan on majoring in. However, being able to see my dream college beyond a website was a dream come true. Although I’m hundreds of miles away, Columbia feels closer than ever.

I believe that anything in life is possible, that even kids from a small, rural community can go to a prestigious university in up state New York — and that one day hard work will pay off and that I, too, can be a Columbia Lion.



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