I am told that I was a rambunctious 5-year-old, so high-spirited that at my grandparents’ 50th anniversary my mom pasted a nametag on my shirt that said: Don’t talk to me.
In elementary my mischievous days came to a halt, but my fire manifested in other ways. For 5th grade English class, I gave a boisterous speech about why Mike Huckabee, a then-rising politician, should become US president. Around this time, inspired by my scholarly brother, I also developed a habit of studying that earned me a reputation later on.
I graduated high school in a class of 13 students, from the same school building I had been at since kindergarten. Though my school was indeed tiny, it allowed me to spread my wings as a four-sport athlete, a multi-band musician, and an intellectually curious student. Many people called me competitive, but my fire arose out of a fear of not reaching my potential and a desire to make a difference, however trifling my actions might be.
After high school, I left my close-knit school community behind, traded my formal sports for heavy weights, and these days I rarely perform musically. I have now traveled and researched in 16 countries, I study at a university I had previously only dreamed of attending, and write articles for a magazine which are read by more than just family.
From childhood to adulthood, I have prided myself on the change that comes with making progress, but the deepest parts of myself have not changed. I have always had a stubborn spirit and a passionate desire to instill change, so whether I am arguing with my brother or writing about the land conflict in South Africa, I will remain me.