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My name is Amanda Burkhart and I am sixteen years old. Born and raised here in
the Bay Area, California I have lead a simple but privileged life that I am very thankful
for. I was born in Berkeley, and grew up in Walnut Creek, where I currently attend
Northgate High School. I originally lived in a three-story house on a hill in Oakland, with
my brothers and my parents, Michelle and Reed. My oldest brother, Timothy, is
approximately four years older than me, while Scott is only two years old than me. We
moved before I was even 2, and have been in Walnut Creek ever since. I attended two
pre-schools, and thats where I discovered my talent for arts and crafts. I attended Walnut
Acres Elementary, Foothill Middle, and am currently attending Northgate High School. I
have always been encouraged by my parents to work diligently in my studies and Im
very thankful for that. I spent most all my childhood at the heels of my family members.
Whether it was my mother, or my older brothers I always seemed to just follow their
lead. Thus, when I was just 5 years old I followed in Tims footsteps by taking up soccer.
Two years later, I also picked up Basketball influenced by Scott. I played each sport for
three years, however eventually I found I didnt really enjoy it anymore. Even though I
am quite competitive, coordinated, and sporty, I wasnt aggressive enough for these direct
contact sports. Later in the fifth grade, I picked up volleyball, which I loved, and
continued to play for many years. Recently, I havent been playing much but will most
definitely join a club or intramural team in College. Another skill I have developed since
a young age is music.
Music is something very important to me. It has been there for me, since I was practically
born and I have never ceased in loving music. Even as a baby, my mother would play

famous piano music on tape for me to fall asleep to. Before even the age of 2 I had
already been introduced to live music, because my grandmother, Caroline, loved to play
the piano. My grandmother even used music as a solution to stop me from crying when I
was a child. She came up with a little tune about me and would sing it to me when I cried.
The little song always stopped my crying and made me smile. Like my grandmother, the
first instrument I ever played, was the piano. I started playing the piano in third grade,
and have been playing it ever since. Although I may have not put much time into
practicing and learning the skills of mastering piano, it is my favorite instrument and my
love for it is immense nonetheless. The next instrument I learned to play was the Viola. I
played the viola for five years from 4th to 8th grade through the school. Although I stopped
playing the viola, I would like to someday pick it up again. The last instrument I play is
the acoustic guitar. Although I know many chords, I have yet to become anything more
than a beginner guitarist. Besides playing music, I am obsessed with listening to it too. I
truly love all genres. Whether it is rock, pop, country, rap, hip-hop, classical, reggae,
alternative, techno or anything else it doesnt matter. As long as the song is done well, I
will enjoy it. Music is a part of me. It is so wonderful, and I love how it captures
emotions, thoughts, feelings, and has an incredible ability to speak to people. Music is a
way to communicate. People can relate to each other through music. Music inspires me to
focus, work hard, as well as dedicate myself to things I care about. It also has also created
warmth in my heart that makes me want to share love with those around me. I will
continue to indulge myself in the world of music for the rest of my life.
My biggest inspiration is my mother. She is the light of my life. She grew up at an
orphanage in Korea, starving and cold, when she was miraculously adopted at the age of

seven by foreigners, my grandparents. My grandfather was in the US Air Force and

traveled a lot because of the military. My mother works hard, loves deeply, and lives with
a tremendous amount of kindness in her heart. After my parents divorce, she became a
single mother of three desperately searching for a job to pay for rent, food, and other
activities. She successfully got a job, and worked diligently at it, while also raising my
brothers and I. Although she hasnt had it easy, she has lived so well without complaints.
My family is so very important to me. I have my mother, Michelle, and older brothers,
Scott and Tim, as well as my father, Reed, and step-dad, Jed. My parents divorced when I
was three, and my mother remarried when I was five. Although their divorce was sad and
has made me careful around people, I am surprisingly grateful for it. It has opened my
eyes to many things, and shown me how people live life many different ways. Although,
there is no one right way to live life, over time I have figured out how I want to live my
life. I have learned not to grow to be my parents, but to be my own person. I think my
parents divorce and disrespect of one another has shown me that everyone has flaws. It
has helped me become a better person and I realized early on that I must decide for
myself what is right and what is wrong. Being stuck in the middle of two parents who had
an unpleasant divorce, it was hard for me to refrain from taking sides. Finding a balance
in life is all I ever try to do. My beliefs have changed a lot over time, but I am maturing
and have developed a pretty good sense of what I believe.
Ever since I was little, my father made the effort to introduce me to different people,
places, and ideas. He has gotten me to be quite an open-minded person when it comes to
food, music, and cultures. He has always got me to try new things, despite ones natural
tendency to be afraid of the unknown. My father is not your average dad. Although he

cooks me waffles on Sunday mornings and attended all my middle school orchestra
concerts, he is really rather unique. His unorthodox parenting style of barely any rules has
proved effective when paired with my mother's contrasting caring and attentive parenting
style. He is a soul that lives to dance and surf. I am grateful for my fathers presence in
my life, for he has given me many gifts. Encouraging a love for music, as well as a
different perspective on the real world are just a few examples.
In the world of religion, I have grown up as a Christian Scientist, not to be confused with
Scientology. We use the King James Version of the Bible; follow Jesus teachings, as well
as the teachings of our founder, Mary Baker Eddy. The founder of my church, another
one of my inspirations, was uniquely a woman. She led an incredibly meaningful and
interesting life.
I have many dreams for the future. My most recent dream is to go to college here in
California. I would be ecstatic to attend UC San Diego. I have dreams to work hard,
develop and grow, and live life giving it my all. More importantly, I dream to have a
family. I want to be a good parent. In the very distant future, I want to be a mother with
unconditional love and support for my children, husband, and all family members. I wish
to do something that I enjoy in life. Its sad to see so many people become successful in
the eyes of society (i.e. work a prestigious job, obtain a nice house), but they do not seem
to be happy. I want to live a life without grief and regret.
Who am I? I am Amanda MiJa Burkhart. I am of half Korean, half European descent. I do
not find it easy to define myself, because words can only convey so much about me. I
have a better understand of myself after my sixteen years of living, and find it difficult to
put my whole identity into words. I have passion, love, and kindness in my heart. I wish

for happiness, love, and to be recognized by other people. I appreciate all that I have, and
always try to remember that many people have much less than I. I value determination
and hard work, because I desire to become a person that my family and friends can be
proud of.
If I must try to highlight three important events in my life, they would be my parents
divorce, my first year of high school, and my brothers leaving to college. As mentioned
previously, my parents divorced when I was three. My eldest brother, Tim, was seven,
and my older brother, Scott, was five. This event was life changing for all three of us.
Looking back, the easiest part of this was my parents separation. Even though I
remember I would cry every time I had to leave my mother to spend the share time with
my dad, this only lasted about a week. The harder part of it is dealing with it time and
time again. It doesnt go away just because it happened a long time ago. There are little
things that you have to be conscious of when you have divorced parents. This event has
deeply changed me, but am I grateful for I believe it has made me stronger and wiser.
The next important event was my freshman year of high school. This was a hard time for
me, because I took on too many activities such as Volleyball, while trying to maintain
grades, as well as dealing with family life. My ambition was thwarted this first year of
high school as I learned more about balancing free time and work. I took challenging
classes and an extra A period because I thought it would be smart to get a lot out of the
way my freshmen year. I remember every morning I would wake up to the dark, cold,
quiet of my house and struggle to get ready for school. During the school day, fatigue
often overpowered my ability to focus and I felt overwhelmed. After school, I would go
to volleyball practice and work my hardest because I felt like I was the week link in the

team. Then I would return home exhausted by the full day, but still facing a mountain of
homework and studying. I was constantly disappointed with myself and desperately
wanted a break. On top of this, in the fall I had some family concerns. I had decided it
was too much to live with both my mom and dad, alternating weeks, and that I wanted to
live with my mother. This decision surprised my father, and of course he believed my
mother had planted some idea in my head, so we had to settle the time schedule through
the court. It was a cool fall day and I went with my brother in a two-hour car ride to meet
with a mediator. I fell asleep in the car due to exhaustion and stress. I remember walking
into that courthouse, through a security detector, and past a couple of police guards. I
waited anxiously in the open room much like seated at an airport hanger. My brother sat
beside me, however my mother went to talk to the mediator for an hour. When my mother
came back, my brother than went in to talk to him. Finally, I was walking through a
locked area following some old man with glasses into his office. This event was
somewhat traumatizing for me. I was so stressed, that I bawled my eyes out in front of
the mediator, a complete stranger, when I hardly ever even cry. I was so shaken that I
couldnt talk or even explain why I was crying. Staring at his desk, the pictures on the
wall, and even the plants was my way to avoid his piercing gaze. It felt as though he
stared right through me, in a very analyzing and calculating way. The mediator asked,
Why are you crying? more times than I could count. All I could do was shake my head,
because I didnt know why. Looking back I think that the situation was truly scary to me
at the time, and it caused my frustration, sadness, and exhaustion to all rush out at the
same time. This moment embarrassed me, but showed me that even though sometimes
life gets hard, you still can't back down.

Now I see my dad twice a week, but I dont live with him. My freshmen year I was
completely out of touch with my friends because all of the things I had going on. I really
didnt feel happy during this time, but it was another time that made me stronger and has
taught me to live with more joy. The most recent event in my life, that has affected me,
was both my brothers leaving to college. My eldest brother has already been in college
for more than two years now, however I didnt truly feel lonely until both of them left.
Now that they are gone, I have realized that I wish I were closer to both my brothers. I
love them, more than any words can describe, and I miss them with all my heart. I text
them and talk to them more often now that they are gone. The clich you dont know
what you have until its gone really applies to how I feel currently. Even though we had
our many disputes, my relationship with my brothers is very important to me. All the
great things they bring to my life have come to light now that they arent around. This has
made me want to be a better person so that they will be proud of me. I want to become
the independent, thoughtful, caring younger sister and be able to apply these traits to
everything I do. Who I am, is always changing, because that is human nature. I am not
someone who remains static; rather I always try to improve. You may now me today, but
tomorrow I may be different. I have shared bits of my past and what I want for the future.