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Sierra Mambwe

Need Level

4.0/5

Amount Needed

$21,323

Merit Level

4.4/5

Class Standing

Junior

College GPA

3.5

Major

English with Screenwriting Minor

USC

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Personal Statement

I think of sugar canes. I remember being four and being obsessed with my denim skirt with red flowers by the pocket, a skirt my mother had sent over from America. There was the bedroom just big enough for a dresser and a bed where my grandmother, aunt and I slept at night and where I choreographed gymnastics performances during the day. Sometimes I swear I’m sitting on the pink paisley couch watching that Tom and Jerry cassette, but that’s always when I’ve been pouring through the photo albums for too long. I’ve gotten used to remembering those years in Ethiopia in these fragmented ways. Now when the language has started slipping and I could go upwards of a year without hearing my aunts’ booming laughs these memories seem like all I have left. There was so much good in the sun and my grandmother’s garden, so much in those early years in Ethiopia that molded me. Lately, however, being Ethiopian has involved more defrosting doro wot flown in than picking fresh mangoes at the small stand on our street. Nowadays, it involves a lot of asking my mom how to say a word in Amharic that she doesn’t know English. Being Ethiopian is an identity I’ve struggled to embrace. My years there were difficult for everyone in my family, especially my mother, who had to send her only daughter away to spend those early years growing without her. Still, when asked about my identity¬ — my background — I think about the gravel roads outside my grandmother home. I think about the lists of women I deemed my mother(s) so I wouldn’t feel like I had one who would abandon me. Most of all, I think of the fruit stands, that darn skirt and the sweet juice of a sugar cane welling in my mouth.

Student Info

Ethnicity:

Black or African American

Marital Status:

Single

Citizenship:

Gender:

Veterans:

LGBTQ+ :

U.S. Citizen

First Generation:

Female

Personal Dependents:

No

Family Dependents:

Yes

0

4

No

High School GPA:

Graduation Year:

Major GPA:

3.7

SAT/ACT Score:

2022

Open to Mentorship:

3.85

High School Name:

n/a

Yes

Paideia High School