The 72 Point Trophy

The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?


I have never loved math—in fact, it’s always been my least favorite subject. I spent years attempting to keep up with even basic math that most of the kids in my class found simple. Despite my struggles, I had no motivation to actually learn or soak in the curriculum, and simply did the bare minimum every day to ensure that I didn’t fail. However, that changed entirely when I met Mrs. Simonsen, my freshman year Algebra II teacher.

She was small and frail, but absolutely terrifying, telling us that we had been spoonfed for years and that none of us were prepared for the course we were about to take. She boomed at us, “You have never been challenged before.” She immediately started writing numbers and symbols on the board that to me looked as familiar as a foreign language.

I spent two-thirds of the first quarter of school failing math with a 36. Her words echoed in my head as I pushed myself to overcome my failure. “You have never been challenged before.” From then on, I did practice problems until the numbers blurred on the page and graphed conic sections until my hand hurt. “You have never been challenged before.” I worked as hard as I could to wrap my brain around concepts that I didn’t think I would ever understand, until I...

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