Written by May Kim, 17, Los Angeles

Left side, fourth row, next to the window—this is the green, plastic-covered seat I call my own. When the sound of the bell reverberates throughout the classroom, I race past my peers, down the flight of stairs, just to claim this seat. I look over the seats in front of me at the long horizontal mirror at the front of the bus, and I watch the chaos of teens packed together unfold. We are often squished three to a seat, sometimes even four. The discomfort of not being able to spread my shoulders or legs to their natural state makes me restless. As I attempt to fold myself in half, I hear the whispers and the shouts, the music of those who tried to drown out the sounds with their iPods, and the soft sound of a boy practicing his guitar chords in the back of the bus.

This is where I have been sitting since the first grade, to and from school. Even though I struggle to find a comfortable position on the rock-hard seat, I get off the bus with contentment, knowing that the school bus is taking me places. For an hour, and sometimes even for two, I ride this bus to and from school in pursuit of a better education. I often find myself looking out the window as we pass my neighborhood schools. It is then that I touch my seat in affirmation of its importance. The end justifies the means, and I have learned that sometimes I have to do things I do not enjoy in order to get where I want to go.



by Sara Hahn, Determined to Succeed’s founder

May Kim, 17, is one of the original students who inspired the creation of Determined to Succeed, a non-profit organization that helps highly motivated, low socioeconomic students get through middle school, high school, and into college. She is a shining example of a young student who realizes how important a good education is, and prioritizes it above all else in her life. May is a 12th grader who is now waiting to hear back from top-tier colleges she applied to.

This above piece is one of her supplemental essays for a college application.

After teaching at a private school, Sara Hahn became a fifth grade teacher at Brentwood Science Magnet Elementary School. She saw firsthand the differences in the educational opportunities of students in the private and public school systems and the challenges faced by her fifth grade students. Sara realized that if a passionate and caring educator were to follow the same group of students through middle and high school, the positive impact on the children would be tremendous and life changing. With the generous support of actor Hank Azaria, Sara Hahn founded Determined to Succeed (DTS) in 2005. For more on Sara and DTS please visit their website.