What would be the most useful thing for me to know about you as a student?
I think it is important to know and understand that I am a very intense student. I put a lot of emphasis on performing at a high level in class, and often I am very hard on myself if I feel my performance is not up to par. Besides that, I also love learning. I especially love exploring topics outside of my strengths.
What do you wish was different about school?
I wish that there was less emphasis on testing. I wish that we could find a way to motivate people to learn without the use of exams. Testing just encourages cramming, which doesn’t foster long term growth.
Describe a moment in school last year when you felt really engaged. Why do you think that moment was such a positive one for you?
Last year, our biology professor scheduled an exam on the day we returned from Spring Break. Since I was just staying home for break, and my parents worked most days, I found myself at the library studying a subject (plants) I thought I had no interest in. After establishing a routine, and reading the text book almost every day, I felt a strong sense of accomplishment, but I also found myself growing more and more fascinated with how plant biology both relates to and differs from our own. I think this was a moment when I realized how important it is to explore ideas that do not necessarily contribute to your chosen career path. By the end, I realized that I had a fairly impressive database of knowledge on plants, and I have been able to participate in conversations about plants in new ways. This was the first time I really pursued knowledge for knowledge’s sake, and I loved it. Towards the end of my studying, I realized I was not even really concerned about the test anymore, and instead found pleasure in simply understanding plants and their mechanisms.
What do you think teachers think about you, and what do you wish they’d think about you?
I think teachers have always seen me as a little high maintenance. I often end up in their office hours, and share my concerns about grades frequently. I wish they would understand that I am not just doing things to receive a grade, however. While I am ambitious and do care about my GPA, I am also passionate about my education. I am truly attempting to gain a good understanding of the material. I have also been working on caring less about grades I receive and more about learning the material in the past few years, and I do hope that that comes across to my teachers.
Tell me about a teacher who you feel knew you well. What kind of student were you in this class? What did he or she do to get to know you?
I feel that my high school English teacher really knew me well. I was an attentive student in his class, and I often had him read over my papers before they were due (high maintenance!). I really felt that he cared about his students because he took a lot of time with our writing. He would give excellent feedback and really help us shape our theses and thoughts along the way. I have always believed that writing is one of the most intimate things someone can share with you. It is often hard for me to share what I write, especially when it is graded. Because this particular teacher did not place limitations on our writing assignments, and never penalized us for writing literary analyses that contradicted common interpretations, I feel that he got to know who I truly was through my writings. Instead of writing what I thought he would like to hear, I wrote what I wanted to write. I grew as a writer and a person through this class, and I feel that I really connected with the teacher.
If you could build a school, what would it look like?
I would build a school that engages all parts of a person’s mind. It seems that in school students often have to pick one of two paths: the liberal arts path or the science path. I believe that everyone’s journeys should include elements of both. I do not want to be the kind of science major who looks down on other schools of thought. I want to be the kind of healthcare professional that finds value in things outside of my own field. I want to set down a medical journal, and pick up a book of poetry. I want to spend time in museums on the weekends, and I want to be an informed voter. In my school, education would encompass all these elements. All students would learn to appreciate every subject. There would be no reason to choose science or art, it would be every students’ right to choose both, and learn to value both paths.
What do you wish I would ask you?
I wish you would ask me to engage parts of my mind that I have not explored before. In recent years, I have felt my mind’s creative and artistic elements get buried by my focus on cold hard science. I want a class where I am challenged to enhance my mind so that both the artistry and the facts can coexist. It will make me a better person and a more thoughtful citizen.
What makes a weekend day great for you?
For me, the best weekend days are the ones where productivity is combined with enjoyment. A perfect weekend day is one where I wake up early, go to the library, get my assignments done, and have the rest of the afternoon to spend with friends and family. Some of my favorite weekends have been spent at the museum and exploring the community, but only after I have completed my work. For me, a vital part of enjoying myself is knowing that I have accomplished something and that I have left nothing unfinished. My perfect weekend would also include a long afternoon nap, because nothing beats a nice long nap.
Anything else to add?
I am looking forward to a great semester, where I am challenged to think in new ways.