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Describe the world you come from, for example your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations?
“Anton, do you ever just stare at a wall? It’d probably be healthy for you to once in a while just blank out. I do it all the time.”
Ah, some words of the famous Ms. MIT, Jacqueline Margaret Wentz herself. The moment I found out she was accepted I was ecstatic; it felt as if I had just received the acceptance letter myself.
That day in AP physics, after I had completed the assigned problem sets, I had created one of my own and began to furiously crunch numbers in my fabricated quest to calculate the algebraic expression for the moment of a cone about its axis using cylindrical coordinates and multiple integrals.
The intriguing (and for Jacqui, subtly annoying aspect of my endeavor) was that I had never been in calculus before. All I knew I had read “for fun.” “Anton, you’re not even in calculus. Why are you teaching me integrals?” she would whisper.
I have always admired self-taught individuals, people who pursued complicated ideas to fulfill their own curiosities; my half-sister’s father had been a self taught engineer: he read up on civil engineering, took a test, got his license, as if it was nothing.
With parents who don’t even know what MIT stands for, let alone the definition of an algebraic variable, I might as well have been given some initial horizontal velocity, because I did not just fall from the tree. “Anton, you think math and running is fun?” they often inquire.
Yet my ultimate inspiration comes from an anecdote recounted by Ms. Rose, my history teacher from last year, about how she was once at a congratulatory work function during which she was being rewarded for selling a phenomenal amount of credit cards to the US populous. While basking in her glory, she asked herself “Is this really how I want to be remembered?” at which point she quit her job to pursue a career in education, eventually teaching crazy kids like me.
For me to hear and become immediately inspired by this story was destined; to teach, to create, to utilize my imagination: this is where my heart lies, nowhere else. Her “Passion Project” assignment told our entire class the importance she placed on passion for what we do in life, and as I played Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude for my project, my passion was established.
But truly, why would I do all that I do if I felt I did not have a positive effect? Every tree I planted put a smile on my face; every piano song I played in the rest home for my half-sister’s father before he passed away put a smile on his. And even the boy whom I tutor and counsel who is getting nearly straight F’s each quarter is getting help, though he (and sometimes I) may not realize it.
This year in Eco Club, I have arranged to adopt a sloth; we will donate money to The Buttercup Foundation, a Costa Rica based program that aids disabled sloths as well as their threatened environment. Helping sloths means much more to me symbolically; it means helping others that are too weak to help themselves and making that difference in the world because the opportunity to so is completely tangible. No staring at walls for me.