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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

I never imagined nepotism would positively affect me the way it did. At first, I did not understand how an under-qualified person could have the power to nullify all the hard work I had put into reaching a goal just because of “connections” or “favoritism.” It made no sense to me, but after years passed, I learned to be grateful for it. As I hustled my way into one of the Top 15 public universities in the U.S. and a earned 4.2 GPA in my senior year, I learned that not getting the help or opportunities I wanted because they were given to someone with “connections” instead, was best for me.

There was one experience that made me realize how opportunities can be corrupted for me. In 11th grade, I heard about of a leadership trip to Washington D.C. from a friend, and my giddy, optimistic self applied. I wrote my essay and answered the questionnaire, just like everybody had to (at least that’s what I thought). Unfortunately, the funds for the trip were cut short, and my mom received a call that I couldn’t go on the trip. Those that did go, however, were kids of government officials and kids with recognizable last names, a source close to the trip planners told my mom in the call.

Both my mom and dad are great parents and amazing, hard-working professionals. My mom is a guidance counselor, and my dad is an engineer, but they have nothing to do with the government, and that is what happened. That is the reason I did not get the opportunity to go to D.C. on a leadership trip that would have been a great learning experience. The only logical explanation to this was that the kids with “connections” were a priority, and my essay was scrapped because of my last name and the nonexistent relationship my family had with local politics.

To be honest, I did not notice the injustice at the moment, but as time went on, I could see that this was a common practice where I am from. I could see more and more nepotism around me in the government, in people’s actions and in any field of work. It was concerning, too, how this practice had almost become normalized. It wasn’t a shock to me when I heard of politicians granting their kids and nephews positions of power, even though they came fresh from college and had no previous experience in the field, making them unqualified for the job.

However, let me be clear; I am not saying that those who come from powerful families or anything like that are immediately unqualified for any job because of their relationship with a powerful official. This is about opportunities that are taken from the qualified and prepared people who went through a certain application process; it is about leveling the playing field and not giving priority or special treatment to those with distinguished last names or backgrounds. Although there is a possibility that I wasn’t chosen because my essay and application sucked, I found it insane that the funds were cut only to take children of government officials to the trip.

The experience only served to teach me that life is not always fair and that I should always keep my head high, disregarding the obstacles in my way. I learned that if it takes me having to work harder than anybody else to reach my goal and be recognized, then I will do it because it is my goal and my passion in life, and not because it was handed to me easily. When I work hard for what I want, the pleasure will be greater when I get it. I learned that it is not about the destination (for example, landing an internship), but about the journey and the obstacles that made me endure what I needed to endure to take on a new challenge. That is what makes a person qualified. When the person knows what he/she wants and is willing to actively work for it until it is theirs.

Now that I am in college, I relish the fact that I am where I need to be because I have worked hard for it, and I owe my success to no one but myself.

Kimberly is a Puerto Rican native while temporarily located in Gainesville. She is double-majoring in Journalism & Graphic Design. She likes to drink tea and coffee (not in that order), as well as fantasize about her future life in NYC or London. You can find her reading the news or watching crime/murder documentaries on Netflix.