My mother has been a parent, a coach and a teacher and has affected my life more than any other person I know. She has taught through example in the face of tragedy and fear. She has shown us love and respect and the importance of always getting back up after you fall. She is a survivor and will forever be my hero.As a single parent my mom has seen us through a difficult divorce, trauma and financial hardship. She made peanut butter sandwiches work when we could afford no more and we loved it. She taught us family is always more important than riches. When we were left homeless by a tornado she taught us how lucky we were to only be homeless because we were alive and had each other. Only my mom could show us the blessing of being homeless. She is amazing.As a coach my mom has taught my brothers and I to play sports. She has often coached our teams and worked 2 jobs but almost never missed a game. She is our hardest critic and our biggest fan. She has made sure we knew the importance of both team work and individual achievement. This year she has worked tons of overtime so that I could tour colleges across the country and live my dream. She has taught me to know no boundaries and to go out and not only get what I want but to enjoy and appreciate the opportunity of the quest. But most importantly we have been raised to know at the end of the day you need to love and appreciate what you have. What I have is a great mom, coach, friend and inspiration…
There is a considerable difference between a good teacher and a great one. The full extent of that gap, however, was not impressed upon me until my junior year of high school.Last year, while most of my classmates labored through Physics, I was overwhelmed by the wisdom, passion, and verve of my nearly 70-year-old AP Biology teacher Ken B. Mr. B, it seems, has been teaching biology since the cell was discovered; certainly, he can still remember when the mystery behind DNA was first unraveled by James Watson and Francis Crick. He is an anachronism in every sense of the word, and yet, he seems to connect to the students of my generation in profound ways. Walking into his classroom, to me, seemed like taking a step into Mr. Roger’s neighborhood; the radiance and genuine interest emitting from his body, from his room’s ambiance, always welcomed and comforted me. He did not lecture or bore us, but rather, he helped us cultivate an interest in learning, in living in the world of biology. In essence, he taught me how to become an advocate for my own education.Mr. B helped me discover the light amid the darkness and uncertainty of my future. He showed me the value in having great educators, setting a positive example that I someday aspire to emulate. Just as he taught my generation (and my parent’s generation), I hope to instruct the next generation of thinkers, dreamers, and leaders. I will help them foster a deep appreciation for learning, instilling the passion and desire that will make them lifelong learners. This I must do, not just to ensure my own fulfillment, but also to guarantee the prosperity and security of our posterity.
Dear Eleanor, As I gaze out my tiny porthole at the windswept darkness that settles over the water which encompasses every inch of my being, I yearn for you. As I hold the small golden locket that you gave me very close to my heart, I feel I can almost hear your sweet voice. However, such a preoccupied, wandering mind is blatantly characteristic of a lonely crewman aboard a single forlorn ship in the dark and endless sea... I penned these words as a lowly freshman in high school, and I was received as just that. When I handed this essay to my World History teacher, I beamed with pride. When I received it back, my eyes found the floor in shame as I was accused of the deadliest sin for an aspiring writer – plagiarism. This was not the teacher who inspired me. No, my inspiration and my salvation came in the form of my English teacher, Mr. Farrell. He tirelessly defended me against accusations of “A freshman could never have written this!” before the principal and teachers who would one day give my A’s and accolades for my work. Mr. Farrell taught me to believe in myself and the power of my words. Those words gave me solace as they echoed across the faces of family and friends at my father’s memorial service when I delivered a eulogy at age 15. They gave me strength as they earned me passage on my own voyage around the world on Semester at Sea, where I was selected as a Diversity Scholar. I penned some more words in my cabin one morning:Dear Mr. Farrell,As I gaze out my porthole upon the radiantly ragged coast of Mauritius and its sun-stained sands, I remember you and your gift of words... Thank You.
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