College Essay by NS, 2011

Wandering the halls of my elementary school as a kindergartener, I remember reading “Bush for president” written on a poster taped to the pastel-colored walls. With pure childlike innocence, I wondered why anyone would vote for Bush. Little did I know that four years later, I would be parading around my house, school, and playground celebrating his reelection.

As pseudo-communist, tax loving, peace-hungry, rosemary picking, composting liberals, my family is the embodiment of the hippy. And, by fourth grade, I wouldn’t stand for it. On a quest to disrupt their dogmatism, I adopted the Conservative beliefs that would change the way I view argumentation forever, and eventually lead me to my high school debate career. My new perspective on a once undisputed belief sparked my hunger for intellectual engagement in the classroom, debate, humor, queer rights, and oncological hospital volunteer work.

My story is not unlike that of Alex P. Keaton’s in the ‘80’s television sitcom Family Ties. A hero of sorts, 9-year-old Alex accompanies his father into his mother’s delivery room donning Nixon election regalia on the night of the 1969 presidential election to rouse his overgrown flower children parents into a political debate.

My resistance to adhere to my parent’s ideology wasn’t due to an actual political disagreement, but a desire to have donnish conversations. Growing up in a politically blinkered household had, oddly, encouraged me to explore modes of engagement that spurred in-depth and passionate discussions that I wouldn’t normally have gotten in the elementary school setting of oversimplified mystery novels and bowdlerized conceptions of colonial American conquest.

When the results of the 2004 presidential election were announced in the school library there was a unanimous groan, and some children even broke into tears. I laughed, pumped both fists into the air, and screamed “victory!” Just as Alex’s father Steven said of his son in an episode of Family Ties, “He hasn’t been this happy since Reagan was elected”. In that library, my joy wasn’t about what implications either Bush or Kerry would have on American public policy; it was about disrupting ideological homogeneity.  However, my intellectual curiosity is now, thankfully, no longer grounded in dogmatic antidogmatism, but a desire for a deeper kind of social interaction.

A lot of my intellectual enthusiasm comes from academic exposure, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In the beginning of my junior year, facing the dilemma of being stuck in a parasitic relationship with an apathetic debate partner or quitting the team, I created an entirely new debate program at Beacon. Even with meager funding gathered by babysitting and bake sales (my bearded, flannel-wearing coach Max Hantel generously provided couches to sleep on and cars to transport by), and shoddy preliminary performance, I pulled through and refused to give up.

N.S.

Class of 2012

College Essay by N. S.

 

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