14th Waver, Crystal, remembers when she first dreamed of becoming a pediatrician. “When I was younger, I had a lot of younger cousins who played and got hurt. It was my responsibility to make sure they were okay, and if they got hurt, I would usually pretend I was the doctor. I would get hydrogen peroxide and clean their bruises and put the antibiotic ointment and band-aids on,” she says. “It comes from my mom being a certified nursing assistant—she used to bring me when I didn’t have school and I would shadow her.”
Crystal, a graduate of Making Waves Academy and current CAP student, has followed this dream. A sophomore at CSU San Francisco, Crystal is majoring in child adolescent development. Outside of school, she volunteers at Highland Hospital in the maternal health department.
As a commuter student, Crystal must carefully manage her time. “Being a commuter student affects me a lot. This semester I have 8 am classes, which means I need to wake up by 5 am to be on BART by 6 am. Knowing I need to wake up early and how much homework I have, I need to stay on top of it and plan everything,” she says.
Maintaining her schedule is both her favorite part and the most difficult part of being a college student. “There are times where I forget oh, I have a test on this day or an assignment due the next week. That’s hard, but that’s one of the parts that helps me become an independent adult because I’m in charge of when I do things,” she says.
Her experience at Making Waves Academy helped prepare her for the rigors of pre-med education. “Making Waves Academy had a heavier course load, and that really prepared me for college. There are people who went to [a local public high school] who struggled with the amount of work they were getting in college. To me, it was just a little more work than MWA would give me. I was very prepared for the course load,” she says. Now in CAP, her college coach Ms. Kelly helps her with study tips and how to keep track of assignments.
Crystal lights up when she describes her passion outside of schoolwork. “I love playing volleyball. I started when I was about 8 at my church. I watched the adults playing—their aim and spikes were so amazing to me. I wanted to be able to play with the adults because I found them so mesmerizing,” she says. Crystal played volleyball with her friends at Making Waves Academy and continues to play at her church.
A lifelong resident of Richmond, Crystal describes that while her community was diverse, there was not a large Asian population. “The only people who were Asian were my family or cousins,” she said. “When I think about Making Waves Academy, there were only a handful of Asian Americans, but I felt kind of cool at the same time because a lot of the community would ask what my ethnicity was and about my culture.”
Crystal has learned to balance her life at home with her life at school. “I’ve grown up with my grandma, and she heavily influenced how I am today. There are American ideals that may not agree with my culture, but at the same time, I learned to balance both,” she says “I’ve grown up without a father, so I’ve thought of my grandma and my mom as my [parental] figures. They’re both like a mom and a dad to me, and I feel like I need both of their permission to do anything.”
Crystal stays focused on her path forward. “After earning my undergraduate degree, hopefully, I have all my pre-requisites and can go straight to med school to continue my education until I become a pediatrician,” she says. “If I have the time and money, I’ve always wanted to go to Laos or parts of Asia that don’t have good doctors and help the kids…I feel like I would still be in Richmond in the long run, because that’s where a lot of my family is.”
She encourages other Wave-Makers to follow their passion. “If you feel that you love something so much, and you can see yourself doing it for the rest of your life and being happy, you should do it, no matter what anyone else says.”