Natural Learner, Nurtured Writer

“Nature vs. Nurture” is one of the most debated arguments in history. Reflect on your identity and describe how concepts described in the “Nature vs. Nurture” debate have influenced who you are today.

“E is for EMILY!”

To most, this statement is obvious. But to a two-year-old learning her letters using colorful wooden blocks lined up in a shoebox, the realization that her first name starts with a specific vowel is extraordinary.

Several studies show that children’s learning capacity is genetic, and I see this phenomenon in my own life. I inherited not only my mother’s brown eyes and my father’s fair skin, but also their determination to inquire, to learn more about the world around them.

But, my parents also supported early education. As soon as I learned to talk and walk, I started learning my letters and numbers on placemats during meals and playing with wooden puzzles and electronic toys that taught everything from basic shapes to farm animals. My parents noticed how easily I learned these new concepts, so they decided to teach me to read. I made frequent trips to the local public library with my mom, and my bedroom became like a second library–the shelves held that many books. By the time I started preschool, I could read fluently, and I was the first student in my kindergarten class to start reading chapter books.

Because of my parents’ nurturing, I developed a love for reading that lasted throughout my childhood and continues to this day. I did not simply read books; I inhaled them. I loved the stories within their pages.

Eventually, I realized that I could also create my own stories.

Writing, like learning, is one of my natural skills. When my hand closes around a pen or rests on a keyboard, the ideas that constantly circulate in my mind flow out of my brain through my fingertips and explode onto the page. I still needed to work hard at writing to become great at it.

I took my first creative writing class in seventh grade, and the course nurtured my writing skills. I loved the class; it inspired me to keep a journal and write short stories for fun. Still, I thought of writing only as a hobby. Eventually, I gave it up for some time.

During my sophomore year of high school, I rediscovered my writing skills. My Honors English teacher, who had also taught my middle school creative writing class, assigned many essays to sharpen her students’ writing skills. As I wrote more and received good feedback on my papers, I fell in love with writing again. My teacher saw my writing skills flourish and recommended that I sign up for a summer writing camp. I took her advice and went to Young Writers’ Camp at Duke University that summer.

At camp, I received two weeks of intensive instruction in various genres of writing, from fantasy to journalism. I put many ideas on paper and shared them with my peers, and my skills and my confidence in my writing both improved. At the end of the session, I had an article published in the camp’s online newspaper, the Duke Youth Voice. When I saw my name in print, I realized that writing meant more to me than just a skill or a hobby–it had become my passion.

I have come a long way since “E is for EMILY!” Writing, reading, and learning have become part of my nature because of the nurturing I received from my parents, instructors, and peers. Someday, I hope to turn my passion for writing into my profession.

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