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I watched the upperclassmen carefully, trying to speak as powerfully as they did.

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I learned from my opponents and adapted my style through the hundreds of rounds I lost. With discipline, I drilled, repeating a single speech dozens of times until I got it right. Day by day, I began to stand a little taller and talk a little louder both inside and outside of debate.


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In a few months, my blood no longer froze when I was called on in class. I found I could finally look other people in the eyes when I talked to them without feeling embarrassed. My posture straightened and I stopped fidgeting around strangers. I began to voice my opinions as opposed to keeping my ideas to myself. As my debate rank increased from the triple to single-digits, so too did my standing at school.

I began interacting with my teachers more and leading my peers in clubs. In discussions, I put forward my ideas with every bit as much conviction as my classmates. When seniors began to ask me for advice and teachers recruited me to teach underclassmen, I discovered not only that I had been heard, but that others wanted to listen. At heart, I am still reserved some things never change , but in finding my voice, I found a strength I could only dream of when I stood in silence so many years ago.


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Standing in front of the crowd of students, it was my hope that by founding this program, I could give them an experience that was as empowering as mine had been for me. As the weeks passed, the students inched past their insecurities and towards finding their voices, just as I had always wanted to do. On the last day of class for that year, I looked up and saw each of the students standing confidently, equipped and ready to speak their minds in whatever they wanted to do.

The essay illustrates her joy in trying new things and having diverse interests. This helps us understand how Madison would thrive in a liberal arts academic setting with lots of flexibility where she can find the unique cross-sections of her interests. Having had this question asked of me many a time, I realize that such an inquiry must be considered practically. The correct answer would keep me happily sustained for the rest of my years, whereas the wrong choice could leave me tormented until I wither away from monotony.

But if instead, I call upon my contentment understandings and assess my options accordingly, I may arrive at an indefectible conclusion. And after much deliberation, I believe that I have come to such a response: potatoes. These tubers are the perfect sustenance due not only to their nutritional qualities but, most notably, to their remarkable versatility.

Potatoes may be prepared in a myriad of dishes.

The thought of golden tater-tots follows; deep-fried potatoes cooked perfectly so as to create a slow crunch when chewed. Then are characteristic french-fries—shoestring or steak, skin on or off. Baked-potatoes, latkes, hash-browns, gnocchi—all respectable meals. Oh potatoes, how I love you.

To a casual onlooker, this question may appear inconsequential in its hypothetical nature, but as they say; you are what you eat. My inclination towards the varied is not contained to my food habits—it is a recurring theme throughout my life. I have a fifteen-year-old sister and a two-year-old brother. This variation tends not to leave me with an aversion to commitment, but a disposition towards diversity.

I am interested in many things.

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I love to play viola; I get a rush communicating without-words to my quartet members in order to convey a musical message. I am at my happiest reading a good book; their complex stories captivate me and I aspire to write a novel of my own. I want to make laws that improve my country; all people should have a shot at the American dream. I am passionate about protecting the environment; reducing our effect on global-warming is of the utmost importance to me. I strive to become fluent in Spanish; traveling the world is a dream of mine.

I love English and political science, but I have yet to find such an all-encompassing response as potatoes. From each of my interests I learn things that contribute to who I am and shape how I see the world. Eventually, I will focus my path. Devon opens his essay with a story that is relatable to many: Struggling through a difficult activity rock climbing in this instance yet feeling determined to finish.

The author effectively expands from this one experience to how his learning style has changed in the past few years.

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There I was, hanging from the precipice, muscles trembling, fingers aching, sweat dripping onto my spotter twenty feet below. He could see I was struggling, and shouted words of encouragement, but my head was pounding too loudly to make out the words. During the initial ascent, I felt strong and confident, though the intense scope of the route had begun to loosen my physical grip, as well as my grip on reality. I made it to the final hold, exhausting every drop of energy, unable to fathom lifting my arm again. The wall then became a towering mental blockade. I screamed and shot my hand up in a final attempt to finish the climb.

I was only hanging on by my fingertips and sheer determination, nevertheless I had made it to the top. My belayer celebrated and lowered me down. Weak and exhausted, I could barely unclip myself from the harness; however, mentally I had never felt stronger. It is during these experiences that the world falls away; all that is left is the rock face itself. I become one with the wall, solely captivated by the placements of its holds and the complexity of its challenge.

Time ceases to exist. Rock climbing is a second language to me. I grew up scaling the tallest trees I could find, desiring the highest vantage point. Growing up in the uniformly flat state of Florida, I was limited in my upward journey. Luckily, I rekindled my love for climbing in high school, and now cannot imagine life without it.

My passion for climbing is fueled by the adrenaline that pumps through my veins. At first, I was an impatient climber who would try and solve the wall before me, making split-second decisions. However, this strategy rapidly tired me out after beginning to climb. Now, when I approach a wall, I first draw the problem out in my mind, using my hands to examine the holds.

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Like a game of chess, I lay out an intricate plan of attack. If I am completely perplexed by a wall, I converse with other pro climbers to guide me towards the best route. Every time I interact with climbers better than myself, I learn a new technique and create new bonds. Being part of the rock climbing community has helped me develop my social skills. The best things about climbing is that there is no clear-cut way to climb a wall, and that there is always a new challenge.

I get lost in the walls and climb for hours, as time becomes irrelevant. I think of nothing else but reaching the last hold and forget all of my worries.

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The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?