Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2012 - (Page 42)

one step ahead on Persistence and Passion When i was in fifth grade, my science teacher required everyone in our class to do a science fair project. i wasn’t too keen on the idea, thinking of it as just more homework. that same year, my parents signed me up for the school band. i chose the instrument with the fewest keys i could see: the trumpet. i stuck with both activities in middle school, winning first place in my school science fair for a few years and playing first chair in the advanced band. i tried other activities, too. i played soccer, basketball, and baseball but quit them all after a few years. i tried singing and several other activities that i don’t even remember. But i stayed with music and science, and although i didn’t know it at the time, i was figuring out what i was good at and what i enjoyed. i was shaping my identity. By high school, i knew that science was my passion. in ninth grade, i went to the state-level science fair but didn’t place there. that was a real blow to my confidence, but eventually the experience motivated me to seek a mentorship, and i emailed more than 100 professors to ask for help. When dr. stabler at UCLa agreed to mentor me on a linguistics project, i took the commitment very seriously. for months, i would travel every saturday to meet with dr. stabler at UCLa and brainstorm the ideas i had developed over the week. Before science fair competitions, my room would be a colorful splash of reworked abstracts, science fair boards, and binders. i had never worked this hard in my life or enjoyed what i was doing so much. that year, i won first place at the state science fair. i represented the U.s. at the London international Youth science forum and published my paper, “Lexical distributions and electronic Literacy: a Corpus Linguistic analysis of textual richness.” When i got to college, i realized that my friends and i had had a similar sHUtterstOck by ishan Puri high school experience: we had a passion for activities outside of the classroom, a “theme” that defined us. for me, it was linguistics research and music; for others, it was tennis or painting or nonprofit work. our interests gave us different perspectives: we approach situations in unique ways, and whenever we collaborate on projects, i see those perspectives surface. We each have an expertise of sorts to contribute, and we all started developing them in high school. at some point along the way, we had all realized that we couldn’t pursue every interest under the sun. demanding high school courses set some limits, and we also found that to excel in the activities we most enjoyed, we had to give up other activities. every one of my friends at college went through this process of choosing a few meaningful activities; we had all narrowed our choices by following our passions. i’m willing to bet that these passions helped us stand out in the college admissions process. that said, some of my most memorable classes at college have been those not related to my primary interests. our dean encourages us to take such classes, and now i know why: they have stretched me and made me think in new ways. it reminds me that even while we continue to pursue those activities that might have opened the doors to college, we need to remain open to new experiences and even failure. in some ways, it is similar to the learning process i’ve experienced through all my years of school: try new activities, choose a few, fail, and keep trying. With persistence and passion as your guides, you’ll enjoy learning not just in high school and college, but for a lifetime. a junior at stanford University, where he is majoring in public policy, Ishan Puri is the founder of synocate+, a nonprofit dedicated to helping students and parents navigate the college admissions process, and author of The Applicant: An Insider’s Guide to the College Admissions Process. You can often find him playing the didgeridoo, studying linguistics, boxing, or taking landscape photographs. He hopes to one day get involved in education reform at the national level.  42 imagine nov/dec 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2012

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/december 2012
Big Picture
In My Own Words
Well of Dreams
Making History Personal
A World Full of Stories
The Month of Writing Dangerously
Japan Adventures
Storytelling 2.0
On the Frontline of Digital Journalism
Once Upon a Summer
Awakening the Storyteller
Selected Opportunities & Resources
On the Doorstep of Discovery
When You’re Ready to Do Research
Off the Shelf
Word Wise
Exploring Career Options
One Step Ahead
Planning Ahead for College
Students Review
Mark Your Calendar
Knossos Games

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2012