Most, if not all, of us have heard some variation of the saying, “If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” When people meet me, I am so quiet that it may seem that I have chosen to ignore the first part, only paying attention to the second. In fact, friends have told me after becoming better acquainted with me that I initially appeared to be a relatively unremarkable individual. In spite of this not so impressive first impression, I try to demonstrate that there are other aspects to my personality that make me a multidimensional individual. The qualities I have developed as I have grown are the result of my experiences and have led me to where I am today in the Honors College at Cal State LA.
For someone so quiet, I am told that I surprise people most with how determined I am. Described at times by my mother as stubborn, I showed from a young age that I would not rest until I felt that I had accomplished what I needed to. Although I have always been determined to improve, an experience I had in AP Biology during my sophomore year changed me for the better. I did not focus at the start of the year and subsequently struggled to save my falling grade. Taking this as a warning, I redoubled my efforts and managed to raise my grade with night after night of hard labor. Since then, I have resolved to work consistently and to prevent anything from interfering in the execution of my goals. I focus on what I believe is most important, in the process often setting aside the things I enjoy. Most recently, I spent my summer vacation participating in Cal State LA’s STEP program, which allows engineering, computer science, and technology majors to take math classes before starting their first year. As a biology major, it was recommended that I participate in the program, and I chose to so that I would not have to take precalculus during my first semester. I focused on my work, reviewed my notes when I needed to, and prepared extensively for the two exams that we were required to take. While my determination to succeed was intense enough that my class’s leaders felt the need to remind me not to be anxious, I focused on preparing for the exams, and I was ultimately rewarded for my efforts. My determination has helped me to test my limits and aim for new goals, a quality that has given me a certain, almost paradoxical view of my strengths and limitations.
I consider myself simultaneously a dreamer and a realist and as such, the outlooks I have on life have allowed me to envision the possibilities for my success. As a child, my curiosity led me to seek knowledge from others about everything I came across, and from the new information that I gleaned, I put together models of the world that, while malleable, still held a certain truth that could not simply be changed. In this truth my realism took root, yet I often defied its pull. Most children take pleasure in their imaginations, and I was no different from the rest. In games with my sister and friends I proposed my own ideas; I imagined for myself worlds in which anything else could be possible, and some of these ideas led me to set new goals for myself. Although realism can limit imagination, I found these limitations to be largely useful. Without the anchor my realism provides, I would long ago have floated off with my dreams, unaware of the reality of the world around me that could have kept me from my dreams. Long before I focus on accomplishing a goal, I evaluate whether or not it is possible and discard the parts that I have determined are not possible. The synergy of my realism and my dreams allowed me to visualize my goals and work toward them, and this has led me to Cal State LA.
Although the different aspects of my character at present have their roots in my childhood experiences, they have come together to bring me to Cal State LA. I have, for years, hoped and expected to go attend college; it never seemed to be something that would not happen, yet I continued to work hard in order to succeed. As I examined universities, found Cal State LA appealing, especially because of the Honors College. The Honors College primarily interested me because of the opportunities it could provide me with. In high school I was too shy, too introverted, too quiet to find the courage to join clubs or groups other than choir. While this provided me with memorable experiences both as a member and as an officer, I hoped to do more in college. Hearing that the Honors College was a relatively small community of scholars intrigued me, and I thought that perhaps being part of a close-knit group might help me learn to become more involved in Cal State LA. However, I do not only hope to become more involved; I am determined to learn from every class that I take so that I can gain the necessary skills and knowledge to go to dental school. I hope that both my character and the lessons I learn from working closely with others and from my classes will aid me in my desired career as a dentist.
In spite of having described some of my qualities, both academic in nature and not, I can not say with certainty that this is who I am. While they remain the same in name, the way in which they manifest themselves in me has changed and will continue to do so over the years, months, days, and even seconds of my existence. My attributes are constantly being modified slowly, in ways that I never realize unless I take the time to glance backward. Not only that, but I can not easily say that these qualities are the only ones that I am proud of, nor are they the only ones that make me who I am. However, they remain crucial to my presence at Cal State LA, and as I have grown they have shaped me into the person I am now, someone who dreams of goals and chases after them as if playing a game, someone who somehow met the requirements of the Honors College. Although there is more to who I am that I can’t describe here and more places I will go that I am still unaware of, this is who I am as I write this essay, and this is where I am fortunate enough to be.
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