Published on October 17th, 2013 | by Nathaniel


Reflection: Why Rejection = Direction


Your heart pacing just looking at it. Anxiety building with every tear of the fold. Eyes burning as they scroll through the words- We regret to inform you that we cannot offer you admission at this time. Didn’t that hurt?

There are some things that we only learn when we reflect after the season has passed.

 If you were like me, getting denied from your first choice college hit you with an uppercut, left jab, and a right hook. I have to admit, I didn’t start off with the best foot. My freshmen year, I had a 3.2 gpa but by my senior I had a 4.2. I was a student leader,  a National Eagle Scout-  active in clubs, and activities, volunteered at a community hospital, spent some years on the track team, played piano, sung in the church choir, all while working as your friendly ice-cream artist at Coldstone Creamery. I had planned it all out in my head- I would go to UC Irvine, major in Business Economics, double major in Public Health, go to grad school, and in five years become California’s preeminent hospital administrator/actor… But I didn’t get into UCI.

So like all persistent “not-gonna-take- no” for an answer individuals, I along with my “not-gonna-take no” for answer mom, decided we were going to climb through the window. A friend connected me to a lovely advisor at UCI who assisted me through an appeals process. I spent time crafting the content of this appeal, declaring- no, proclaiming the moral and discriminatory injustice that was my denial. Right… I anxiously awaited the glorious letter that would color my mailbox with golden rays of hope. I enacted my faith, prayed, and convinced myself that admissions would realize what a travesty they had committed. So when the letter came, we were beyond confident that it would read- We regret to inform you that we cannot offer you admission at this time- WHAT???  I didn’t take no for an answer- I appealed again and this time I got the direct contact for the head of admissions- no it wasn’t just her direct contact, it was her cell. I called everyday for a week- left messages. She never did call me back.

That following month, my mom and I must have driven down to Irvine three or four times to meet with the admissions counselor and the head of admissions herself. She said that there was no mistake. I was crushed. The admissions counselor who had helped through the process mentioned that there was an alternative way- go to a different UC or a community college for two years and transfer. After accepting defeat and weighing my options, I decided going to UC Riverside wouldn’t be so bad.

It took some time for me to warm up to the idea of being somewhere other than my first choice but once I did, UC Riverside turned out to be a divine blessing. At Riverside, I was exposed to a melting pot of diversity within the African community, which allowed me to develop pride for my own African heritage. I also had the opportunity to make some of the best friends I’ve ever had, become a student leader, a tour guide, and perform well academically. Career-wise, Riverside, gave me the time to realize that my passion was in entertainment. I was constantly driving down to LA to audition for projects and take classes, so it hit me, “Why am I not going to school in LA?”

My goal shifted- I did my research and with the help and support of the director of the undergraduate business program at UCR, I worked out a plan to transfer not to UCI after my sophomore year, but to USC. My time at UCR allowed me to find my purpose and my passion. When my transfer admission letters came in, I received acceptance from both UCI and USC.


My limited vision couldn’t see the scope of God’s plan. I could only wrap my understanding around my failed plan but God had something bigger, something more purposeful. I hope this story will give you the confidence to see rejection = direction, to know that God has you in palm of His hand.


Proverbs 16:9
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”

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