Tell us about a talent, experience, contribution, or personal quality you will bring to the University of California.

"You have to be wary of other religions," Mrs. Ebel explained. It was not hard for any of us fourth graders to come up with the imaginative moniker "Mrs. Evil". "Believers of Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam don't believe in Christ as their savior and will not be saved. In fact, does anybody know any Mormons?"

Already somewhat overwhelmed, I sheepishly raised my hand, knowing full well that half of my family was Mormon. With a penetrating glare, my teacher continued. "Well, Nicholas, you must be especially careful. Mormonism can be very appealing, but it is actually a cult." A strong note of disapproval rang in her voice. "They will try to brainwash you. You can't believe them." Slowly I lowered my eyes. Feeling confused and somehow shamed, I looked to my classmates for support. All I could see around me, though, were faces filled with pity and concern.

Going home that night, my ten-year-old mind whirred with doubt. Mom? Omi and Papa? Lindsey, Whitney, Jonny, Joe, and Critter? All part of a "brainwashing cult" out to get me? I tried to understand why my teacher would say such a thing, but I could not accept what she had told me.

Five years later, I found myself in...

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