The Chemical Reaction That Is Nicholas A. Harris

The University values an educational environment that provides all members of the campus community with opportunities to grow and develop intellectually, personally, culturally and socially. In order to give us a more complete picture of you as an individual, please tell us about the particular life experiences, perspectives, talents, commitments and/or interests you will bring to our campus. In other words, how will your presence enrich our community?

In one hand you have a beaker filled with a diluted solution of hydrochloric acid, which is one of the strongest acids you can concoct. In the other, you have another beaker filled with one of the strongest bases, sodium hydroxide. If anyone would digest either of these chemicals, there would be severe consequences for them, but when mixed together under the right conditions, a chemist can create water and salt. Nothing is ingested more than water and salt. This is the fascinating part of chemistry, the ability to mix two things together to form a compound that is 100% different. I see this process evident in my own life. I hope the final product of my life is a successful engineer who has made a name for himself as a hard-working person, who balances his demanding job and his loving family, while still managing to give something back to the community whenever he has the opportunity.My first reactant, the hardworking trait, began because I am the youngest of four boys in a family of seven. Each of my brothers had a unique personality. While this allowed me to experience all the trials and tribulations of my brothers’ paths of life, I needed to make my own path. I explored many different possibilities throughout my life, but I knew that the chief gift I was given was my intelligence. I worked hard all through my early academic career, striving to be that “great student.” This attitude carried through to my high school career, where instead of taking easier courses and receiving the 4.0 GPA, I took the hardest courses the school had to offer, such as both levels of AP Calculus, AP Chemistry and AP Biology, to challenge myself and prepare me for the future.The next component of the reaction I learned from my oldest brother Robert, the UW-Madison graduate. I always looked up to my brother. He was able to balance school, family, and sports. He showed me a full life is one that has a balanced perspective. I have tried to practice this in my own life by balancing my rigorous academic schedule, demanding sports, and accountability for my job while always making sure that I leave time for my family, friends and myself. Something else that developed my open-minded perspective is that my three older brothers all brought something different to the table. Robert was the logical and analytical mathematician, while one of my other brothers was a social, caring teacher and the other a culturally aware Spanish student. These three cover many aspects of the personality spectrum, and my experience with their diversity will help me throughout college as I interact with many groups of unique individuals.While I looked up to my brothers, my sister looked up to me. Now the roles were reversed, and I was placed in my brothers’ shoes. The final factor in the reaction developed because I needed to show my caring and compassionate side to her, while still making sure she wasn’t veering off of her path. I realized that life isn’t only about me; I need and want to help others reach their potential as well. In order to help my peers, I formed an AP Calculus AB study group. There were a variety of sessions, where we would either dive into a concept one-on-one, or a group would come to re-learn a difficult concept. Through these sessions, I developed even more interpersonal skills with my colleagues, which is another important reactant in my life. During some chemical reactions, an outside force needs to be applied in order to make the reaction complete. In the chemical reaction that is my life, this outside force is a great education. I believe there is no better place to take this step than UW-Madison, which offers me twelve different engineering majors that I can explore in my quest to be that successful engineer I’ve always dreamed about becoming.

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