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Though my high school does not have a Creed, I feel that if it did the Colorado Creed would fit perfectly. Henry M. Gunn High School breeds a caliber of student that is both intellectually hungry and incredibly compassionate. This is, of course, high praise, yet this atmosphere has challenged me throughout my four years here. My teachers and classmates have pushed me to do my best in all areas of my life, not simply academics. I owe much of who I am to my time at Gunn High School, but I also realize that I, too, have made contributions to life here.
It’s just before first period, the upper-classmen jockey for parking spots, mothers drop off their younger kids in front, while some whip up the paths on bikes, wide-eyed with hair poking through the air slits of their helmets. It’s the morning rush, and I soak in the energy that radiates from all corners of the quad. Every morning, walking from my car to my first class, I prepare myself for the day ahead—the tests I’ll take, the questions I’ll ask, and the discussions I’ll have. There is nothing that I look forward to more.
All my life I’ve felt more mature than my own age. Since the age of six, I helped my mother with my older half sister who was paralyzed from the chest down in a childhood accident. At a time when most of my friends were experimenting with mom’s makeup and setting up fantasy weddings, I was helping seat my sister in the car, or reach in places that required the mobility she lacked. I didn’t complain about this—I loved helping her—but it did accelerate my maturation. Even when she moved out of our house and it wasn’t necessary for me to help on a daily basis, I would visit as often as I could. She has struggled incredibly with her disability, both physically and emotionally. I have witnessed firsthand from an early age loneliness and despair in someone close to me, and that has probably shaped me more than I know. I realize I can only do so much to alleviate her pain, but I know how much being there for her means. This knowledge has instilled in me a sense that I can always do something for other people, and that my presence can often be enough.
Because of the experience with my sister and my resulting sense of responsibility for others, I sometimes wonder if I have done enough for myself. School has always been the gateway to my own aspirations. It is a place where my teachers are mentors and my fellow students are both teachers and collaborators. Through pursuing my education, I am free to explore many different subject areas, excelling at some while grappling with others. I do not get easily discouraged, as some might when perfection eludes them. From my perspective, I know I will always have another opportunity as my learning will never end.
As I exit the parking lot, I step forward and feed into the rush. It’s a rush of friendly faces that I greet in passing with a quick glance, a smile, or a momentary embrace. Nearing the entrance to my classroom, there is now a crush. Many are foreign faces that speak in native tongues—Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog—there must be close to 30 spoken on campus. Because of these friends, I have experienced events as diverse as Seder’s for Passover to a Bonga dance. This is my school, and I am proud to be one who contributes to its diversity. When I finish in June, and take my final step to my car at graduation, I know I will be ready for the next step into college, into Boulder. I am eager for these new steps, these new experiences, this new place with a strong creed I believe in. A place that will empower me to learn, and in turn, prepare me for the steps to follow. A place with people who will teach me, but also with people who, like my older sister and Gunn High School, need me too.
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