Alice Fayiah

Candidate for SEE

My name is Alice Sia Fayiah, and I am from Liberia, a country in West Africa. I moved to America the summer before 8th grade. Before that, I lived with my grandmother while my mother was in America. My grandmother passed away in the summer of 2015, just before school started. This was one of the most challenging times in my life. After her passing, I was told I would stay with my aunt for a while, which meant moving to a new school and adjusting to a new environment and people.

I was excited to live with my aunt, whom I knew well. However, when I arrived at her place after my grandmother’s funeral, things were not as I imagined. My aunt lived on a military base because her husband was in the military. The security checkpoint made me feel like I was being locked up. I even asked my aunt if she was being held captive, but she reassured me that this was home.

It took me a while to settle in, as I moved between living with different aunts for a year before staying in one place. The people were nice, and I often asked my uncle, who was in the military, if he was going to war when he did his morning workouts. I admired his uniform and told him I wanted to be like him someday. He encouraged me to stay in school and choose wisely because I had many more options than he did. I told him I wanted to be a doctor or a military prosecutor to help my community, and he was proud of my big dreams.

Starting school in America was tough. I was dealing with the loss of my grandmother while adjusting to a completely new environment. Everything was different: the food, the weather, the school system, the stores, the time difference, and even the way people spoke English. I felt like I had moved to a different planet. At school, I was bullied for being too nice and for my accent. To cope, I chose silence and became known as the quiet kid. I spent lunch breaks in my English teacher’s classroom or the bathroom, watching Netflix until lunch was over.

High school brought some changes. I remained quiet but stopped hiding in the bathroom. I started volunteering, joining clubs, and participating in sports to make friends and improve my high school experience. However, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and everything went online, which was a setback. Despite this, by my sophomore year, my English had improved significantly. I took more challenging classes, joined the National Honor Society, and participated in various sports and activities. Making friends became easier.

In my junior year, I moved schools and became even more involved, eventually becoming the student body vice president. I was known as a social butterfly with great energy. By my senior year, my English was perfect, and my accent was barely noticeable. I realized I had been trying too hard to change myself to fit in when I didn’t need to. My accent was a beautiful part of who I was.

Senior year was challenging. I was often sick, struggled with senioritis, and took mostly AP and honors classes. I participated in many activities, including Cross Country, Soccer, National Honor Society, Student Government, and more. By the time track season came, I was exhausted and had to quit. Despite the difficulties, I managed to graduate with honors, thanks to the support of my Earth and Space teacher.

Looking back, I see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown. I want to go to college to study law and inspire other young African girls to keep pushing and working hard. I am excited about the next chapter in my life and what the future holds, especially if I’m able to attend Hillsdale College.