Figuring out where to go to college was the ultimate struggle of my high school career. The strain of completing assignments on time, the effects of sleep deprivation, and even the looming fear of IB exams didn't compare to the stress of college hunting. The thought of college made me nauseous because I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to study. College was a meteor barreling towards me, ominous and alarming as it closed in with increasing speed.

Overall, I applied to nine schools in six states: The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), University of Florida (UF), North Carolina State (NC State), The Ohio State, University of Maryland, Miami University, University of Colorado-Boulder, Georgia Tech, and Florida State University (FSU). Looking back, I should've narrowed my list down a bit, but as I said, I had no idea where I wanted to go so I made sure I had options.

My top choice was USAFA and I honestly didn't have a backup plan if I didn't get accepted. My desire to serve my country as an Air Force Officer upon graduation far outweighed any thought of defeat. This was my dream. Over the next two years, it was torn into pieces twice before it completely shattered.

First, I found out that I didn't get accepted into the Academy. Devastation couldn't even begin to describe how I felt at that moment in time. Even though I got accepted into multiple schools, the one I truly wanted to attend didn't want me. The application process was excruciating and not getting in was icing on the cake; it made me feel like I wasn't good enough. At that moment, my dream was crushed.

But at that point, there was no time to waste. I now only had a couple of months to figure out which college I should choose. My dad and I looked at my list and picked two to tour: NC State and UF. Within the month, we took a trip to see both schools. I fell in love with NC State but my dad urged me to go to UF because I would get in-state tuition in the future. I reluctantly accepted UF wishing I had more time to decide.

A few weeks later… I got a call saying that I had actually been accepted to USAFA. Completely blindsided, I didn't know how to take the news. I knew that I should've been happy because this was my dream but after having it ripped out of my outstretched arms, it seemed too good to be true. I got used to the idea of going to a college that wasn't focused on the military lifestyle but I knew that this was an opportunity that I couldn't miss. My dream came back to me and I wasn't about to pass it up. So, I declined UF and accepted USAFA.

Unfortunately, a month before I planned to leave for basic training, the unimaginable happened. One stupid decision brought my dream crashing down around me once again. I fell off a marching band stand and although I tried to shake it off and walk away, but the pain was too immense to ignore. In the hospital, I didn't expect my injuries to be that extensive but I landed myself with a broken elbow and a compression fracture between two of my vertebrae. Once the doctor told me the news, something inside of me broke because I knew that it would ruin my chances with the Academy.

Since I was medically disqualified, my acceptance to the Academy was rescinded which left me hopeless when it came to college. Like before, I got used to the idea of going to a military school and going anywhere else didn't feel right. I didn't want to go to another college.

Since it was after May Day, the deadline to accept a school passed. UF refused to reopen my admission because I already turned them down. I was at a loss for what to do. Since my dad pushed for schools in Florida, I started looking at FSU. Thankfully, they agreed to reopen my admission as long as I paid the deposit that day. It wasn't what I wanted but at that point, it was my only option.

Skip forward, it's freshman year and I opted to participate in Air Force ROTC; the next best option that would lead to the end goal of becoming an Officer in the United States Air Force. I had a blast my first semester! I absolutely loved having both military and college aspects in my life at FSU.

But my second semester took a turn for the worse. I already knew that I was medically disqualified but I was hoping for a waiver. One day in February, a cadre member called asking me to come to the Detachment when I had the chance. I knew at that moment that I was either getting a scholarship or getting dropped from ROTC. I hoped for the former but I knew in my gut that I would hear the latter.

As I sat on the couch in the Colonel's office, my heart sank into the floor. The atmosphere was not one of celebration but one of despair. There was no way to brace myself for what was about to come. My dream was shattered into unrecognizable pieces; no amount of tape or glue could repair the destruction. A part of me shattered along with it. My world got turned upside down and I didn't want to let go of my dream. I tried to fight it but it was no use. There was nothing to be done. My dream laid dying surrounded by smoke and flames until it vanished completely.