How the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship Changed My Life

November 6, 2018

by Esther An, Caroline D. Bradley Scholar

If I had asked seventh grade Esther An where she was going to be in three years, she probably wouldn’t have eagerly responded with, “Wallingford, Connecticut.” Actually, even the suggestion
of anywhere outside the city of Los Angeles, California, where I was born and raised, would have been met with incredulousness.

But, somehow, I find myself writing in a dorm room almost 3,000 miles away from where I imagined I’d be, in the midst of fall term at Choate Rosemary Hall. When I look back on the events that led me here, they originate, inevitably, from the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship. The short version: CDB completely opened up my world.

More specifically, though, I remember walking into my CDB interview as if it was yesterday, as well as my distinct feeling that I could talk with Bonnie and Brianna forever. Leaving the gorgeous green offices in Pasadena that day, I was overwhelmed by their warmth, love and kindness.

I was over the moon when I joined this community because, as I began to meet fellow Scholars and parents, I realized that this feeling of connection, of finding my people, only got stronger. Our network is incredibly diverse, but each and every person is connected in the way that they’re some of the most generous, inspirational and passionate people I’ve had the privilege to meet. For me, that’s been the most unique aspect of this whole experience. CDB has allowed me not only to broaden my horizons and take on challenges I couldn’t have previously imagined, but also to find my favorite people.

I honestly can’t believe there was a time when I didn’t know them, especially my wonderful friends at Choate. Everything I’ve shared with my peers has shaped me: working through computer science with Lucas, contemplating the meaning of life and how one can understand the inner workings of an Arduino with Aarthi, making it through a flight to Kentucky with Anna, discussing the importance of faith during a cross country run with Emma, getting a “ping” from Sam, being awed by one of Kathy’s brilliant solutions to a math problem and listening to Bekah’s invaluable advice when I’m unsure of what I’m doing — I could go on and on about how special these people are to me and how much I love them.

It’s really no surprise that traveling across the country hasn’t been the only drastic change I’ve welcomed these past few years. CDB has empowered me with the will and grit to try and discover myself. With the support of the amazing people at IEA, I’ve thrown myself headfirst into new expeditions. From starting and sticking with Choate to taking black-and-white film photography to learning dance and to joining a hack-a-thon, CDB’s incredible community has taught me that there’s nothing I can’t learn or grow from. I’ve also realized that I have a lot to be grateful for. I’m so lucky to be a member of this fabulous group.

If there’s one thing CDB has taught me, it’s that the unknown isn’t so scary when our community — our family — is with you on your journey, every step of the way. My dearest hope is to be the kind of person who can give back to the world all of the blessings I’ve been gifted.

The application for the 2019 Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship is now open! Visit the CDB page for more information and to apply.

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