(starting from left to right) My brother Tadeh Gharib, my mother Hermineh Mikaeilian, myself, and my father Jan Gharib
Hoover High School

Immigration & opportunity

Even though I was born here, I am no stranger to immigration.

My family immigrated as Armenian-Americans in 2000, a year before I was born. I was well aware of the tough adjustment to this new life that they saw for both my brother and I.

I was often reminded of why. Why my family decided to immigrate to America.

My parents always told us about how different it was “back home in Iran” and how we must use all of our resources here in America to become something in our lives. Life after the Iran-Iraq War was completely different. Less freedom and fewer opportunities to do what you pleased impacted my parents’ decision to move. They always told me about the strict guidelines they had to follow, like not being able to wear short pants if you were a man or not being able to show any hair if you were a woman. Everything was limited, and my parents (like any) wanted the absolute best, and Iran simply didn’t offer that for them.

My brother faced the challenge of adjusting to a completely new atmosphere. As a 7-year-old kid he saw America as something different to what he was accustomed to and something completely new. New school, new friends, new world, and a new opportunity.

The opportunities here are endless. You could be whatever you want in life here, and that’s why so many people immigrate here. Not for the culture or the scenery, but for the opportunity.

My brother kept reminding me when I was growing up about that opportunity.

The opportunity to be you. The opportunity to be great. The opportunity to be free. The opportunity to simply live.

That was something that stuck with me while I was growing up and maturing. I was aware that I could simply do whatever I pleased no matter what.

As I saw my parents work into the late night every night, I realized the sacrifice they made for us. As I saw my parents work almost two jobs for all my life, I realized nothing comes easy in this world. And as I saw my dad open up his own business and work 15 hours a day, I realized I must capitalize on the opportunity they opened for us.

The opportunity they opened up for us to be great. It gave me hope that I could really do what was best for me and for them.

The hope I had made my eyes light up and brain fire up. I saw no limit for what would be possible for me. I looked back at what brought me here and remembered what this was all about.

My parents simply could have stayed put in Iran and ignored the many advantages of living in America.

They didn’t need to go through unimaginable hardships, such as waiting six months in another foreign country with no family or friends to accompany them just to find a route to America. They didn’t need to leave the place that they called home to start a new life for us. They didn’t need to get out of their comfort zone to fulfill on their duty as parents.

I kept this all in mind as I grew up. It not only served as motivation to be better, but kept me in check. I never let a bad day at school or horrific test grade bring me down because I remembered that there’s always tomorrow. No matter what I could find a way to fight through it just like how my parents did.

There all millions of opportunities ready to be fulfilled in this world, but only the ones who step out of their comfort zones will be the ones who become successful. And I’ve learned to never pass up an opportunity to be greater.

You never know when that opportunity will come, but when it comes grab it. Do not let go. Seize it as it could be the start of it all. Make the most of that opportunity and get ready to write your own story.

The story of how an opportunity can change your life.

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