By Shirley Toy
Growing up as an only child to traditional Chinese parents, I have always had high expectations when it comes to academics. They came to the United States with a language barrier and a couple of dollars so that I can have a better future and access everything they never had. As a result, it broke their heart when I told them I would be majoring in English and not nursing or something in the medical field.
I never enjoyed Math or Science classes. They were the classes that I dreaded the
most and never fully grasped. I told my parents why I am not going to become a nurse,
lawyer, or doctor. Furthermore, I told them that it takes a lot of talent, love, skill and
patience to have a career in those fields; all of which I lack in or struggle with, and they
know this. I also mentioned that I rather use your hard-earned money on something that I love doing rather than doing it because you want me to. After having this conversation with my parents, they understand where I am coming from and no questions were asked ever since. My mother even said, “my friends’ kids who went to Ivy league colleges to study in the STEM field graduated without a job. I guess I am happy that you had your first paid internship at the age of 16.”
I also told my mother that just because I go to UIC, it doesn’t mean I will be less successful or the opportunities would not come my way. My eighth-grade English teacher always said, “If you’re smart, it doesn’t matter where you go, you can be the change or that one person who helps the institution’s reputation.” It helped my mother understand that UIC is not a bad university or a ride in the park; it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to maintain a high GPA while making sure you graduate on time.
It makes me happy that my parents have looked past the fact that I want to be an English major, and they fully support me now. Additionally, they are now proud to tell their friends that their daughter is an English major with minors in Communication and Spanish. My mother would have a smile on her face when people say, “Oh my God, your daughter is so smart,” and my father will never forget his family doctor saying, “Wow, I wish I can write like your daughter; it was something I always struggled with.”
Although they don’t fully understand what a career in content writing or something along the lines of digital marketing, they know that it is something that I am passionate about, I am employable, and that is all that matters to my immigrant Chinese parents.
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