The Recipe for Potential

Tell us about your intellectual interests, how they sprang from your course, service, work or life experiences, and what makes them exciting to you. Describe how these interests may be realized and linked to the ILR curriculum. (Please limit your response to 650 words.)

In high school, writing a research paper is synonymous with baking your own mini-textbook. You crack open a few statistics, sprinkle in a few quotes, and add a pinch of SAT vocabulary. Mix well until blended, and voila—a hot, piping thesis (though it may taste a bit dry)!

I used this same recipe for much of my educational career. I hated researching history just as much as any academically jaded teenager would: “When am I going to need this information?” I would wail piteously, slamming my head against my history textbook. “No one is ever going to ask me about the circumstances of the inauguration of the seventeenth president!”

And sure enough—no one ever did. But the first year I entered the National History Day research competition, the unimaginable happened: history became interesting to me. It did not matter whether or not someone would ask about it; what mattered was fulfilling my own curiosity. It became clear that studying the past was a science not only of the end result, but also of context and change—the present and the future.

I felt as if I had discovered some long-buried secret to enjoying work. As long as I was excited to look, I could always find the story in history! In my fourth NHD project, I realized that the...

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