As the setting sun paints the New York sky with the most beautiful of pinks, oranges and violets, I can’t help but feel a sense of excitement in the metropolis that is Manhattan. As the streets lights flicker on, the sun disappears from the horizon and the pinks and violets are replaced by the glow of lights from the sky scrapers. As I stand in Time Square, it hits me: here I am, small town boy ready to take a bite out of the Big Apple.
Hey! My name is Daniel Haynes and I’m a 23-year-old student from Guyana. Not to be confused with Ghana in Africa, Guyana is on the coast of South America and also a part of the Caribbean making me a Caribbean kid. Most of my life before coming to the U.S. was spent in Guyana where I studied humanities and got an Associate’s Degree in Humanities. In Guyana we write two major examinations in our high school life. The first is the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) which occurs in our senior year of high school and the second is Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE).
After graduation I wrote the SAT exam hoping to further my studies in the U.S. I had always seen myself in the U.S., there was a certain appeal to it. How could it not be appealing? From the bright lights and skyscrapers of Los Angeles California, to one day climbing to the top of the Empire State Building and seeing New York spread out in front of me. However, my journey wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped, after writing the SAT the first time, I got denied by St. John’s University, so I wrote the SAT two more times, each time doing better than the last.
Fast forward two years, I finally got accepted into St. John’s where I’m now a Resident Assistant for one of the dorms, I have a job in International Admissions, and I’m a Peer Leader. Everything worked out in the end.
I’m a journalism major and I chose journalism because for the entirety of my life I have had a commitment to the truth and telling stories. Journalists are supposed to be a beacon of truth in society and this trust earmarks what a good journalist is. Someone who can be counted on to do things the right way and stop at nothing to tell the truth about what occurs. However, journalists are also storytellers whose stories can paint a canvas with hope. At the lowest points in my life I have heard stories of others who have had less than I have and have still made something of themselves and these stories come from the news.
It's because of my experiences and perspectives that I know what it’s like finally achieving something you’ve worked hard for, as well as what it takes to remain successful and focused in a place that is probably different than your home. I hope my experiences here in the U.S. help to paint a picture for aspiring international students.
Daniel Haynes is an international student from Guyana studying Journalism at St. John’s University in New York.