If you could only do one of the activities you have listed in the Activities section of your Common Application, which one would you keep doing? Why?

“The thnake thlithers in the garden.”

My grammar teacher’s smile flickered. My eight year old self beamed proudly. Somehow, by words spoken and unspoken, this moment marked a death. A call was made to my parents in hushed, urgent tones. Sombre conversations were held with my teacher across brick-red school desks. Sandra, the brazen child, disappeared and ‘Thandra’, the girl with a lisp, was born.

The remainder of my primary education was defined by speech therapy and the fear of being taunted whenever I spoke. When I selected Public Speaking as my mandatory activity in the ninth grade, I did so because I ironically expected to be ignored, thereby allowing my fears to remain unchallenged. However, seeing my classmates express themselves freely and confidently pushed me to re-consider my paradigms. I realized that my so-called speech defect could be a strength. By making a concerted effort to pronounce my words correctly, I had become very thoughtful about the meaning and effectiveness of said words. I mustered the courage to ask the co-ordinator of the Public Speaking club whether I could participate in the next Assembly debate. I researched my topic and taught myself methods to combat ‘tongue anxiety’ but neither of these proved important on the day of the debate.

When I spoke before the school body, it didn’t matter that my opponent was more intelligent than I was or that my concluding argument was hardly audible. Public speaking had done for me what no amount of speech therapy could by thrusting me out of my comfort zone. As I descended from the auditorium stage I held my head high. Sandra was reborn.

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