ESSAY President of Princeton University William Bowen writes, "[A] great deal of learning occurs informally. It occurs through interactions among students of both sexes; of different races, religions, and backgrounds; who come from cities and rural areas, from various states and countries; who have a wide variety of interests, talents, and perspectives; and who are able, directly or indirectly, to learn from their differences and to stimulate one another to reexamine even their most deeply held assumptions about themselves and their world.... 'People do not learn very much when they are surrounded only by the likes of themselves.'" Every individual is unique. In a clear, well-organized essay (250-500 words), please identify how your unique qualities and experiences would contribute to the diversity of the Clark Honors College community.

---------------------------------------------------- A phenomenon exists during much of our primary and secondary education. Beginning by about 4th or 5th grade, students begin to conceptualize the idea that in order to be successful and well liked, they must be just like everybody else. The media sends conflicting messages. On the one hand, it glorifies singers with crazy hair, navel piercings and angry music. On the other, more subtler hand, it implies that to be as popular we must try to emulate them. We live in a culture that tells us to “be unique, just like everybody else.” By the time we reach high school, we have been so saturated in popular culture that we forget that we had very little hand in creating it.

A trait that I pride myself in is that I refuse to be pinned down into a specific cliché or group. I take immense satisfaction in choosing my life paths with impunity, whether it jives with popular conception or not. This doesn’t mean that I just rebelliously do as I please; it simply means that I evaluate my decisions independently using my own morals and life experience. For example, I love playing music, but I also love sports. Is it “ok” to be a “jock” and a “band geek” concurrently? Absolutely. Three and a half years ago, I decided that the world of greasy burgers and fast food wasn’t for me, so I became vegetarian. It is true that it’s easier to sit back and let the world force feed me its values through a tube, but how would I know I really wanted them? I’d much rather pick from the buffet of life’s tastiest aspects. My friends are Black, White, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Sri Lankan, Argentinean, Mexican, Cherokee, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Christian. Why would I exclude such a fascinating array of people from my world?

According to John Milton, we are destined to exercise free will. Though deprived of safe and dependable paradise, postlapsarian humanity gained an important attribute. They gained the ability to think independently and rationally as individuals, rather than collectively as part of a hive or flock. I believe that it is nothing less than my duty as a freethinking person to continue this tradition. It is every person’s duty to formulate his or her own opinions and beliefs but also to remain receptive to open forum. For it is by sharing our own novel thoughts and ideas that our consciousnesses can evolve. It’s like collecting baseball cards. If we were all fans of exactly the same players, it would be pointless to trade. We’d get a lot of doubles that way. Only by choosing our own cards, our own teams and our own heros can we truly build a diverse and wonderful collection.