Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

In front of the board stood two kindergarteners, a classmate and I, ready to engage in fierce competition. The task? Simply solving a two-digit addition problem. I felt my heartbeat racing, my hands shaking while holding the marker. I had no reason to worry — I had been practicing triple-digit addition long before kindergarten.

“Ready?” my kindergarten teacher asks. “53+31.”

The expo marker hits the board before she had even finished speaking. By the time she finished, I already scrawled on the board “53 +.” It was only a matter of speed. My objective? To finish the addition problem light years before my opponent. I was the undisputed champion. And that was exhilarating.

This competition continued through first and second grade. As always, I was the one to beat. I was the gold standard. It was in second grade that I started to notice a challenger, someone I could call my rival. My teachers would often pit us against each other, testing the limits of our speed. A split second hesitation would cost me the match. For every win she secured, I made sure I would take the next one. By the end of the year, we were still within mere milliseconds of finishing from each other, but light years ahead of our classmates.


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