Describe the world you come from—for example, you family, community, or school—and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

I’m a surfer, which means I spend many hours a week in the vast Pacific Ocean that meets the San Francisco County shoreline. I know my coastline like the back of my hand. I know the texture of the smooth, slimy kelp that flourishes in our frigid ocean, I know the feeling of getting stuck in a rip current at sunset, I know the sound of pebbles rolling with the crash of the waves, and I know the sensations of surfing with only the light of a full moon. But just when I think I know the ocean best, just when I feel like I have mastered the sea, the tides swing and I find myself in a new situation, one I may not be familiar with but one I certainly am excited to take on. I enter the ocean at my own risk because there is a risk; I thrive in an environment that throws me surprises around every wave and challenges my mental and physical condition. When I enter the water I may be the only surfer out, but I certainly am not alone. Immediately, I start to notice the prospering community of sea life around me, from the small anchovies that flourish in the depths to the playful dolphins that speed through the shallows. But I don’t just observe, I question. I question why dolphins swim together. I wonder why otters rap themselves in kelp. I speculate how pelicans have evolved to dive underwater. These questions flow to me in the water, and it’s not until I enter my biology class the next day that I can really bring these queries to the table, explore them, and learn about the beautiful marine animals that live in the ocean I have grown to love. By taking in my surroundings I’ve found an appreciation and respect for the thriving animal life and the ruthless but gentle environment in which these creatures live. How I handle, question, and admire the ocean becomes a strategy that I take back to land. A form of meditation in the water and being one with the ocean has become an essential way for me to unwind at home and just appreciate what God has allowed me to experience. I have learned to live in the moment, so I can concentrate on what needs to be done. Whether it is my homework, my family, or pitching in a baseball game, I have this unique ability at my disposal. I have the capability to put my mind to something, conquer the fear, and bask in the glory of knowing that if life throws me a challenge, not only will I meet it with confidence, but I may just ride it all the way in to shore.

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