I have been dancing for pretty much half of my life. I began ballet at age 5 but, being a fickle 5 year-old, I made my father promise me that I could quit at the end of the season. I fell back in love with dance when I was 12, started taking lessons again and have been actively involved since. I have 10 years of ballet experience including barre, 8 years of lyrical experience, 11 years of hip-hop, and 4 years of modern. I choreographed modern/lyrical pieces for a campus dance company for all 4 years in college as well as submitting 3 pieces for the Festival of the Arts. I have a love-hate relationship with ballet but it will always be the reason I fell in love with dance and no matter what style of dance I intend to choreograph ballet always sneaks in there somehow. I will probably have ballerina hips until the day I die!
My favorite class of my entire high school career was A.P. European history and the influence of that class lead me to choose history as my major in college with a concentration on modern Europe. I receive on the Advance Placement exam and received a B in the course overall (despite it being regarded as one of the most difficult classes offered at my college prep high school). I loved everything about that class but I especially was enthralled by the philosophies and social theories that drove the historical action forward. The men and women behind history who developed these lines of thinking and their lives and what lead them to do the things they did showed me that history was not the boring collection of dates, names, and locations. History in the story of the motives behind the actions that makes those dates, names and locations significant.
I was a bookworm as a child and still am. New books are an opportunity to devour a story and gain the information it provides. Learning to read is comparable to one day being blind and the next being able to see. The first time you see a word as a word and not just a bunch of letters is an excitement that I still remember. Reading becomes more exciting by a hundredfold when you can truly comprehend the story. Learning to recognize tone, context, implications and other story devices allows you to sometimes find an entirely new story within the one you originally understood. I truly believe that reading is more than just recognizing sound patterns. The path that those first consonants and vowels leads to down can end up in so many places and it's always an exciting journey.
It has been some time since I actually took a vocabulary test but I have been told that I can be overly verbose. I believe that the easiest way to actually expand vocabulary, other than reading the dictionary (which I did as a child), is simply to read as much as you can and learn to draw a word's meaning from context. If one can actually imagine a situation in which a word is used I believe it goes beyond the surface of plain memorization into true comprehension.
I majored in history in college because I know that it is impossible to function efficiently in the present without recognizing the stories that connect us not only to our neighbors but to strangers on the opposite side of the world. I feel that history is best understood by understanding the causes and effects that surround significant historical events. Everything is so inherently connected; the effects of one event in China can become the causes of a seemingly separate occurrence decades and worlds away. Understanding these pieces helps one to see the past present and future as a big picture. When we see where we fit into that big picture, history is no longer is a dry collection of names and dates; it becomes a narrative that is multifaceted and interesting. We become a part of it, and nothing makes learning easier than seeing how it relates back to us.
Of the expectations that come along with being a History major, none of them are truer than expecting to write a least one paper. I wouldn't want to count the total number of pages I've written at the University of Chicago. Writing has always been what I'm best at. I learned MLA citation in high school in the process of writing my term paper (required for graduation at my high school) on which I received a 97%. I also earn a 4 on the Advanced Placement Literature and Composition test. The core curriculum in college gave me experience in composing essays for the Humanities and the Social Sciences. I am currently writing my B.A. thesis using Chicago/Turabian citation.