Many students expand their view of the world during their time in college. Such growth often results from encounters between students who have lived different cultural, economic, or academic experiences. With your future growth in mind, describe a potential classmate that you believe you could learn from either within or outside a formal classroom environment.


On the first day of history class at Texas A&M, I took a seat in an empty row, placed my books on my desk, and watched the other students trickle into the classroom. One student in particular caught my attention. He appeared slightly uncomfortable and self-conscious as he scanned the room for a vacant seat. Eventually he sat down at the desk adjacent to mine, introduced himself as Tristan, and shook my hand. We filled the last awkward minutes before class started with small talk. I asked him where he was from and received an unexpected answer -- he told me that he grew up on the Sioux Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Tristan and I continued to chat before and after the next several classes, and as the semester progressed we became better acquainted with one another. One day I ran into him outside of the MSC and we decided to have lunch. As we ate, I asked him about his life on the reservation. Once again, his response surprised me. He described a place of terrible poverty that I would have associated only with a third-world country, and he confessed to me that he had grown up with an alcoholic father who struggled to find employment. He also told me about his high school, where most of his friends had...

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