Charlie: 1-pound, 13-ounces

"Doctors said I had a 5 percent chance of living."

Born at just 25 weeks – 15 weeks early – doctors told my parents I only had a 5-percent chance of survival. At 1-pound, 13-ounces, I was classified as a micro-preemie. As a result, I had to stay in Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and was hooked up to ventilators to help me breathe. Although I was closely monitored by doctors and nurses, it was often difficult to endure the other crying infants and beeping monitors that surrounded me. After several months in the NICU, I eventually became strong enough to breathe on my own and my parents were able to bring me home.

As I got older and learned to talk, I had a hard time pronouncing my Rs and Ls. Therefore, my mom put me in speech therapy classes and spent countless nights reading to me. She always reminded me that it's better to think about how we've been blessed than to focus on the negatives.

Now a college student, I know how lucky I am to be healthy and strong and I feel a distinct drive to accomplish something big. In fact, I'd someday like to become a senator. My mom always taught me that things happen for a reason, so I plan on doing what good I can in the time I've got.