To Kellen Sapp for showing me that I have an impact on others. When I was in middle school and junior high, I frequently helped with the children’s ministry at my church. I was the designated choreographer for three children’s musicals, so I got to spend a great deal of time with the children. There was one child in particular that I grew especially fond of. He reminded me a lot of myself. At the early musical recitals, I would often see him sitting quietly alone in the back of the room. I remembered being that child myself many year prior, so I made a point to sit beside him and talk to him.
Once I had reached out to him, he would transform into a different individual and start participating and playing with all the other children. After we had finished the musical, we would take a celebratory trip to the Oklahoma City Zoo for a sleepover called a “Zoo Snooze”. At the event, we would spend all night at the zoo, get a personal lesson about a couple of animals, and take two private tours of various animal exhibits. At first, Kellen was quiet on the trip and sitting by himself in the back of the room. Like normal, when I noticed, I sat beside him and started to talk with him.
Soon enough, he had emerged from his shell and started to energetically interact with the other kids. Afterwards, his mother sincerely thanked me for helping Kellen feel comfortable coming out of his shell. She told me that she has never seen him that social and that happy amongst a group of other children before. While I helped Kellen, he also helped show me that I can have a direct impact on the lives of others. Book VIII To Tracy Freeman for entrusting me with her children and teaching me about responsibility. The summer after seventh grade, I agreed to babysit three girls from my church.
The Freeman family had relatively low income, so I agreed to watch the children for around four dollars an hour. Three days a week I would supervise the kids from seven in the morning to one in the afternoon. There were few ground rules for the household, so I mostly was a glorified playmate. Though, not all of the time I spent there was all fun and games. Occasionally, sibling disputes would arise and it would be my duty to diffuse the tension. I had to know when it was necessary to go off with one individual and have a private discussion with them about what was going on.
Then I was expected to have a solution to the issue and help them resolve the problem. Never before had I been the person in charge of handling situations like that, so this exposure greatly helped me learn what to do when things get difficult. Book IX To Mrs. Clower for encouraging me to think outside of the box. When I was in third grade, I began taking enrichment classes created for students that had been identified as gifted and talented. The instructor at Richmond Elementary School was Mrs. Clower. Once a week, a group of my fellow classmates and I would be excused from our homeroom class and sent down the hall to Mrs. Clower’s room. There, we would perform extra work to enhance our education.
She taught us how to solve logic puzzles, introduced us to basic architecture, guided us through individual research projects, and encouraged us to “think outside of the box”“. While Mrs. Clower only had to teach us in the classroom, she went out of her way to encourage us to participate in challenging things outside of school hours. One organization she especially supported was Odyssey of the Mind. With this organization, seven similarly-aged students were put together on a team. Together, they chose a prompt to work on throughout the year.
The solutions were judged at competitions based on creativity and quality. This exposure allowed me to explore my opportunities and enhance my creativity. Book X To Emma Watkins for assisting me during a time of exhaustion and desperation. The summer of 2012, I took a trip with my youth group to Arkansas. Half of the trip was spent at the Heifer International’s Heifer Ranch. This location is one of the educational centers for the organization. As a part of the experience, all the individuals were divided into groups that became our “families”. Our task was to spend the day and night in a simulation of third-world life.
Of the seven mock houses represented, our group occupied four of them: Guatemala, Thailand, Urban Slums, and a Refugee Camp. As an added challenge, my group, the refugees, were not given any food or fuel and could not speak English to communicate with the other groups. The only thing we had was a rickety wooden structure with shabby tarps covering portions of the roof and walls. Emma Watkins was assigned to be a part of my family. Instead of complaining about the circumstances that we found ourselves in, she kept an open mind and stayed positive throughout the humbling experience.
After we left Heifer Ranch, our group had a couple of days to relax and explore. One of our activities was a canoe trip down the river. Since I was one of the people that had previously had experience canoeing, I was placed in a canoe with somebody that had never set foot in a boat before. This would not have been a problem, except she refused to assist me with the paddling of the craft. For the first half of the day, it was not too much of an issue. I was able to maneuver the boat on my own. However, after lunch, the physical demands of pulling along two people in a canoe by myself started to take a strain on me.
I began to lag behind the group and every stroke of my paddle was accompanied with a burning pain. Thankfully, Emma took note of this struggle. Even though she was two years younger than me, she took the initiative to have our canoe partners switched out. Instead of dragging along two people by myself, I suddenly found myself with a partner that was equally matched with my ability and was putting in an equal effort. This task that had been so draining on me previously become unbelievably easy. I was finally able to enjoy my adventure.
Emma’s observative nature, optimism, and empathy reached far beyond her years. She set an example for what I should strive towards. Book XI To Mr. Thomas for teaching me how to be successful during a struggle. Up until eleventh grade, school had never been difficult for me. I had been able to breeze through my coursework without much struggle, so as a result, I did not learn how to study. That all changed my junior year. Like all second year juniors in the Advanced Pre-Engineering Academy at Meridian Technology Center, I was enrolled in Mr.
Thomas’s AP Physics I class. This class was notorious for being a difficult course, but I was not worried. Surely I would not have a problem with the course. I never had any difficulty in school before. It would be easy, I told myself. I kept this mentality until the first exam. For the first time that I can remember, I did not know all of the answers. As a result, I panicked. On that first test, I managed to pull an 81% after the curve. That exam showed me that I would not be prepared for this course unless I learned to apply myself. I had to learn to study.
I needed to spend hours before the exams practicing problems and watching tutorials in order to be more prepared for the test questions. This acquired skill has proven itself to be extremely valuable as I have continued to take AP math and science courses along with my Oklahoma State University concurrent coursework. Had Mr. Thomas made the class less strenuous, I likely would not have been adequately prepared for the advanced coursework I have faced my senior year and will continue to face during the next four years of college. Book XII To Hermione for demonstrating the importance of intellect.
I remember being four years old, sitting beside my father at bedtime as he read me books from the Harry Potter series. Each night for weeks I would be lulled to sleep by the magical adventures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I always admired how Hermione had all the answers. Whenever a situation got difficult, Hermione was able to come up with an solution and save the day. I always envied this trait of hers. She inspired me to continuously search for more knowledge and excel at my studies so I too could be the one with all the answers. I too could be the one to save the day.