Describe a person who has influenced you positively.

I remember the large, looping curves in her handwriting. I remember them well because they are now characteristic of my own penmanship. When I attempt to draw human figures, I recall the bulbous eyes she often gave her cartoon characters when we were eight. And when I close my eyes to will my thoughts to take the form of poetry, it is her voice I hear.

If I had not met Helen in the fourth grade, I would not have discovered my ability to think creatively. I was the stern pupil who payed rapt attention to her teachers. Helen was the dreamer perpetually absorbed in the doodles in her notebook margin. When I looked closer, I realized that sketches and rhymes were the media through which she interpreted the world. When the mathematics teacher assigned a difficult word problem, Helen would illustrate the concept using her quirky graphics. I was the ‘model’ pupil, yet Helen’s grasp of the numerical and verbal processes that underpinned daily activities surpassed mine. I decided to put aside my ‘logical’ ways if only to briefly explore her world. I began by mimicking her style of writing and drawing, and, ultimately, I forged an unlikely friendship.

Although our friendship was interrupted soon after when Helen left the school, my...

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