These are just two words we use to measure something we can hardly begin to grasp.  One can do all assigned work in school, verbatim from the book, and still pass as well or better than the student who not only reads, but absorbs each word and retains its lesson.  The student who quotes from the book takes nothing with him to use in life.  Their grades seem promising, yet they lack what the diligent B or C student possesses: the inspiration to learn, to know, to find a way to make useful every bit of knowledge that a schoolbook can offer.  I am here to show you how this philosophy might be applied to every aspect of life; from education and jobs, to relationships with other people.  There is so much to be gained from each experience, so much more than could ever be found listed on a job or course description.  I know this and I live each day with the certainty that something can, and will, be learned…do you?

I never attended preschool, but my experience in Kindergarten at the age of five was one of the most enjoyable times I ever had in school.  I was not afraid to explore, experiment, and take risks.  I was uninhibited by self-consciousness, embarrassment, or pride.  My teacher was passionate about what she was doing and I never felt unimportant to her.  From first grade on, everything changed.  My honest, confident attitude would all but disappear until 12th grade.  My first, second, and fourth grade teachers were absolutely beastly people.  They belittled you and made you feel totally insignificant.  Still, my grades were good; I liked getting called up to stand with all the others on the “Principal’s Honor Roll.”  Third grade, I was home-schooled.  There’s nothing much to be said here, as I learned very little.  It’s not that my mom was a bad teacher; it’s that she was exhausted.  She worked graveyard and slept during the day.  I didn’t seem to miss out on anything really important though, because I was able to catch up on everything in fifth grade.

My fifth grade teacher was the first good teacher I had had since Kindergarten.  She inspired us to be individuals; real people: to use our talents to help and encourage the ones around us in our lives..  Sixth grade was a tough year.  My friends would all be leaving that summer, and the thought depressed me to the point that I lost all ambition for the future.  My seventh and eighth grade teachers only emphasized grades and completion.  They had little concern for the quality of my work; as long as something was scribbled down on the paper, it was considered complete.  I thought high school would bring big changes for me.

I went to a private Catholic “college-preparatory high-school; I worked tremendously hard to earn good grades by submitting high quality, neat assignments that were over-completed; I would never turn in an assignment if it wasn’t done as well as it could be.  What resulted devastated me.  The students who copied off me, or from the book, received higher marks than I did.  I wrote literal essays to answer the typical assigned question; I researched information that we touched on in class so that I could understand all aspects of the topic.  I read each page and note in the margins of the textbooks..  And what did I get?  A hideously low 3.6 GPA for my freshman year.  Unacceptable for my standards.

I gave the best and I expected the best in return.

Still, my dedication was undervalued.  I earned poor grades my sophomore year.  I saw no point in turning in half-assed assignments to keep up with the rest of the class when I wanted to do more.  I read and studied still, but grades are computed based mainly from homework assignments.  I aced nearly every test, which kept my grades above a 2.0.  Finally, I had stooped to average.  I had pretty much given up on the organized education system.  Then, right before my junior year, I discovered HomeTech!  Independent Study and free concurrent enrollment!  I was so inspired.  With these tools, I have been able to expand my store of knowledge and understand what education is all about.  I wish I had known about these programs before my freshman year, but I have done the best I could with the resources that have been supplied to me.  Now I know I need to seek knowledge for myself, not wait for a counselor to tell me what I am required to do.  When you’re mature enough to think for yourself, you need to.

My early family life seems to contain more unpleasant memories than good ones.  It is increasingly difficult to recall “the good times” while trying to ward-off the bad ones.  Regardless of how I may have felt at the time, the constant marital conflicts in my family have helped me realize what is most important to me in a relationship.  Having been exposed to both a very financially rich, comfortable lifestyle and a terribly poor, struggling life at several times, I have seen what it takes and what can take it.  I know how important it is to work hard and to be passionate about your career.  I have seen the value of money and how important it is to save it.  I have seen how quickly money can go during the rough spots, and how hard it can be to come by.  I understand that all relationships will have conflict, but mutual respect and love will allow all relationships to prosper, despite any previous transgression.  My family life has smoothed out in the last year, largely due to a new, positive identity and a fresh outlook on life.  There are a huge number of people who have it worse than I do.  Seriously.

My father co-owned a real estate company in Paradise for several years during my childhood.  At times, he was short a receptionist and I would be the first candidate to replace her.  Although only nine or ten at the time, I was quite qualified to answer and direct phone calls, use the computer, printer and copier, and greet clients.  I vacuumed and maintained the cleanliness of the premises on several occasions; and all at no cost.  Even at this young age, I knew the value of a job well done.  I baby-sat for family friends when I was twelve to fourteen, and I was responsible and reliable.  When I entered high school, I loved to volunteer at community service events.  Every year since my father became the Ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce, I had volunteered to work at the Johnny Appleseed Festival in Paradise.  I never knew that people didn’t like doing that.  At sixteen, I got a job as a stable hand at a veterinary facility called Pacific International Genetics working part-time five days a week.  This quickly snowballed into working full eight-hour days and even a few twelve-hour days.  I realized that, although I put in 100% in my work performance, I was not meant to work physical labor and my grades were slipping.  I gave my two weeks notice and since this time have only been employed at the Dollar Tree in Red Bluff.  The hours were terrible here and there was horrible management, so I resigned.  I know I am destined to do greater work than shoveling horse feces and working minimum wage.  However, this society requires us to have diplomas to get those better jobs.  That’s what I’m working on now – learning, writing, and earning good marks.

Let’s see… Besides employment, one of my main hobbies is community theater.  I love to sing and perform, but I mostly do this for my own entertainment.  One my favorite things to do is sing karaoke, but I would really like to learn to play a musical instrument to accompany my voice.  I was previously in a church choir, but my schedule didn’t work out because we moved from Paradise to Red Bluff, away from the church.  During the time I worked at P.I.G., I was also involved with Chico Theater Company’s production of Disney’s High School Musical.  It was difficult to get off work at 5:30P in Los Molinos and make it to rehearsals in Chico by 7P – showered and free of animal feces.  This was one of the main reasons I decided to stop working at the ranch.  I love to snowboard, ride wave-runners, and write.  I don’t play video games very often, but I love using my brother’s Playstation 2 or 3 to play RPGs (Role-Playing Games) like Final Fantasy.  My favorite games are Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II.  I used to like to play the Pokemon games for GameBoy, but I’ve never finished one.  I use the internet mainly for research and writing, but I love to listen to music while I write; in English, Spanish, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese.  My favorite music was written between 1952 and 1982, but a lot of the music from the 90s was good as well.  I love to play card games on the computer, do crosswords, word searches, Rubik’s Cubes, and play Chinese Mahjong.  I took voice and a ballroom dancing class at Butte College during the spring of 2008 semester and I am pretty much in love with ballroom dancing now.  Everyone wants to feel graceful and sexy, like a dancer.  I have always been a naturally gifted singer, so I finally took the plunge and attempted to take structured voice lessons from a man in Paradise the week before Halloween 2007.  However, they were way too expensive, so I took a group voice class at Butte College instead and I love it.  I play tennis recreationally and love to experience strange and exciting things.

As a Student Ambassador of the United States of America, I traveled to Australia through People to People.  My first time out of the country has ignited a strong desire to travel and to see, first-hand, the diversity and richness of world culture.  I will be traveling to the People’s Republic of China, by my own means, from June 2008 through August 2008, before my official college term begins at CSU, Chico.

After my high school graduation and trip to China, I will attend California State University in Chico, California.  The trip to China will help get me situated to living outside my family home before attending the four-year university.  I need a way to incorporate my physical fitness, so I will enjoy living in Chico, where I can walk often and ride my bike.  I intend to pursue a major in Criminal Justice with a minor in Philosophy or Music, although I am also juggling English as a possible major.  In the past, I wanted to explore psychology as a major, but I had a suspicion that I might have been leaning too heavily towards psychology when I was really meant for philosophy.  I’ve never been encouraged to study philosphy, so I will try to do so on my own.  I have made every effort to get the most from all my courses while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.  I want to be, primarily, a writer of life themes and, secondly, a counselor for youth with identity-confusion or adults who suffer from foreclosure, a psychological term for those who have thoughtlessly accepted a life chosen for them by someone else, and in turn lack purpose.  I think I would like to work with youth-at-risk, especially people in juvenile hall.

I chose CSU, Chico after being denied admission to another university in Oregon.  I visited their campus, but due to my high school not being accredited yet, I was denied admission.  Chico has a much more beautiful campus, anyway, though.  It is local and I am familiar with the region, so I feel comfortable accepting my admission while I earn my Bachelor’s, and possibly Paralegal, Degrees.  There was a chance that, because HomeTech Charter School is not yet accredited, I would have had to earn my AA before I could be eligible for any kind of university enrollment, but it turned out to not be a problem for CSU, Chico or Montana State University, Bozeman, where I was also accepted.

Armed with the motivation to learn and the inspiration to know, I will find a way to make useful every bit of knowledge that organized education can offer.  All I need is a little outside support and my diligence.  I wrote this book to share what I’ve already learned.  I hope you find it useful; or at least interesting.

12 May 2008

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