In 2010 I graduated from the University of Surrey, and worked at a radio station. A little later, my parents encouraged me to do a Master’s degree. I wasn’t keen on it. I finally had something worth being proud of in this job, and it didn’t immediately make sense to me. But I listened, and it ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made. The first day of my Master’s degree I knew I wanted to do a PhD, and my professor encouraged it. Considering I thought I was a failure for so long, applying was one of the most audacious, faith-filled things I’ve ever done.
I made terrible choices the first couple of years of university. I was unhappy on the course, distracted by the unprecedented freedom, and dreams of practicing medicine seemed like a distant memory. The pattern of failure continued, and by this time I had zero confidence in anything I could achieve.
Deep down, I always knew I would live in America. As a three year-old, I was strikingly drawn to the brownstone row-homes and strange accents in Sesame Street. In my childhood play, I would create a world in which many of the characters had Southern drawls. The earliest vacation I remember was a family road trip across the States in 1992. It was an incredible time of laughter and discovery. I had traveled elsewhere before, but it was the first time I would truly take in the environment around me. Everything seemed so big in comparison to London. Big roads, big trucks, big houses, big portions. We would cite moments from that trip for the rest of our lives. From then the seed was sown. There was a big America, with big opportunity and I felt I belonged there.