Life Path | Colorado School of Mines Undergraduate Application Essay

My parents served as my first educators. As my mom read to me, she would explain the unfamiliar words. If she was unclear on a definition, we would look up the meaning together in a dictionary. Languages—English and Spanish—became not only tools for communication, but playthings of a sort, and we proudly referred to ourselves as “word nerds.” My dad, likewise, patiently answered my childish questions, never “dumbing-down” his explanations. He pointed out Orion in the night sky and quizzed me on the names of the bright stars in the great hunter’s belt. When I asked, “Why is the sky blue?,” he taught me about Rayleigh scattering. I did not understand the concept as a preschooler, but I learned that asking questions lead to answers, and sometimes those answers lead to more questions.

As I started elementary school, being a “word nerd” was no longer a source of pride. If I used words like “pretentious” with my classmates, not only would I sound pretentious, but they wouldn’t understand me. I wrote a story about how I “careered” around a corner on my bike, and the teacher crossed the word out and wrote “careened.” I wanted “career”—to travel at a high rate speed and out of control—but I was too reserved to ever question a teacher. I…

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