Me and Sports

I have played tennis, volleyball, and softball throughout high school, both on my school teams and for clubs as well. Sports allows me to make use of my competitive side, as well as spend my excess energy. I have ADHD and after working out I am always more focused academically.

I also enjoy the team aspect and have built great friendships on all of my sports teams–sharing our passion for athletics and supporting one another. It is fun to improve my skills, while also working cooperatively with others. For example in tennis, there is no way for my partner to read my mind; I have to tell her what I am thinking and together we can create better strategies. This ability has also helped me work better with people in my school and work environments. In college I plan to stay actively involved in athletics, whether in intramurals or competitively.

When I am passionate about something I work hard at it, so receiving recognition for my efforts has been particularly meaningful for me during high school. I only began tennis junior year, starting on JV and making my way to varsity. But by the end of that season I was named Most Improved and won the Coaches Award senior year.

In college I have maintained my active lifestyle. Every tuesday, I do Pilates and every thursday, spin classes. I also play walleyball with my friends at least once every other week. This has allowed me to stay active, control my ADHD, and meet new people.

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How I was raised

I come from parents and grandparents who are very successful, and most of them work in the sciences. My grandfather was a successful chemist, my mom is a nurse and my dad is an accomplished vascular surgeon. He also thinks he knows everything about everything.

When I was little, I took my dad’s word as fact. He was older so he must know what he was talking about. However, as I grew, I learned he wasn’t right all the time. On my own, I started investigating questions I didn’t agree with him about. Then I started speaking up to defend my position. I didn’t want him to think he knew everything. There were things I knew and he didn’t.

Now my dad and I have an ongoing competition; we constantly debate. Many days when I come home from school, I will mention some fact I learned. After he tells me I am incorrect, we set out to prove the other wrong. Just like him, I am unwilling to back down. These fights make me want to learn more, because the more I know, the better I can outsmart my father.

Just like the rest of my family, I want to pursue a career in the sciences. In this competitive field, it is important to be able to stand my ground and defend my views. After all this practice with my dad I know I will be strong enough to handle intellectual debates while working collaboratively with others.

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Overcoming Obstacles

School has always been more challenging for me than for many other students. Growing up, I was very energetic and had a hard time paying attention during class; even when I was sitting, I would fidget in my chair. In elementary school the teachers often thought I was disrespectful because I was constantly looking around the room when they were talking to me. I really was listening, but the teachers didn’t know, and would still yell at me.

In the third grade my mother decided to have me tested for a learning disability and  I was diagnosed with ADHD–Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I began seeing a psychiatrist to help and started trying different medications to improve my ability to concentrate. It took me a few years to figure out both the right medication and the right dosage. In middle school, I also began to receive accommodations in class. I sat in the front of the room and had extended time on tests and finals.

When I started high school I wanted to take the initiative to manage my ADHD on my own. I discovered the Smartpen, which records a class while I write my own notes. I also got permission from my teachers to access the Power Points from their websites for their lectures. Figuring out how to take advantage of these resources gave me more confidence with my academics. I also discovered that playing sports allowed me to release my excess energy so I could focus better. Throughout the year I play tennis and volleyball and used to play softball, soccer, and basketball.

Having ADHD has affected my life in different ways, not all of them negative. I used to feel bad that I didn’t learn as quickly or easily as others, but now that I understand my learning style and my strengths and weaknesses, I have gained a lot of confidence in my abilities. ADHD has forced me to develop strong organizational skills and to understand my own needs. To do well academically I need to manage my study time, allow for the opportunity to speak with my teachers outside of class, and fit in my regular exercise.

Although ADHD will always be a part of me, I have gained the knowledge to manage it well and reach my academic goals. It has helped me realize my capacity to overcome obstacles and shown me my true potential.

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Approaching Differing Believes

Junior year, I took U.S. History with Mr. McKenna. It was quite different from a regular history class because we focused so much on current events. Mr. McKenna was incredibly passionate about politics, however, his views often focused on only one side of the story. He has strong Democratic beliefs and loved to share his perspective with the class. Coming from a Republican family myself, this could be challenging. Because I live in a Democratic state, my beliefs are frequently debated in classes, however, in this case, it was an everyday occurrence. To make matters more complex, I took his class during the election year.

At the beginning of the year, I felt frustrated. I would listen to everything Mr. McKenna said, but only argue back inside my head. I would not respond in class, but waited until lunch to talk to my friends about politics and how Mr. McKenna’s statements made me feel. When I went home, I would discuss current events with my dad and sister, who would both help me think of ways to respond. Towards the end of the first semester, I became more familiar with the election and got up the courage to share new current events with the class. Then, when  Mr. McKenna would say, “Romney said this,” I would raise my hand and respond, “Well, but didn’t Obama say that?” I did not want to seem like I was arguing with the teacher, so I would strategize ways of saying what I meant. I just wanted my point of view to be heard.

By second semester, I was a lot more involved in politics. I wanted to have more facts and knowledge so I would fully understand what my teacher was referring to in class. I asked lots of questions and researched more into news stories. At the end of class one day I was the last one to leave. As Mr. McKenna was locking the door he told me that he appreciated my increased participation in class. I was really proud of myself and my hard work.

Looking back, I see how much I learned from this experience. Hearing arguments from both sides of the political spectrum gave me a fresh perspective. Debating political issues taught me so much, and also opened my mind and sharpened my skills.  As I improved, I was able to debate without getting too personal or negative, and understood how to analyze and present my ideas in the best way possible.

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Working with the Humane Society (and other animal related experience)

Since Freshman year in high school, I have volunteered with the Humane Society in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a Freshman, I was only able to walk and care for the dogs there. This was my first step in my animal related career. I would volunteer at least once a week for two hours with dogs in need. I was only volunteering with dogs ready for adoption. This means that I did not deal with animals with current severe medical needs. I stopped volunteering sophomore year to focus more on school work.

Junior year of high school, I began shadowing a small animal veterinarian near my school. Because I was still under 18 years old, I was unable to physically help with medical issues. I was able to observe a variety of different procedures on various small animals. I observed spaying and neuterings of cats and dogs while volunteering there.

During the summer of junior year, I attended a veterinary summer program at Tufts University. I was able to explore further into the different types of veterinary medicine. I was able to shadow fourth year vet students. I even got to see the surgery of a horse. We went to a variety of different farms including sheep farm, cow farm, and even a pig farm.

During Senior year of High school, I began volunteering again with the humane society. I began volunteering with two different departments this time. Twice a week, for at least four hours each, I would work with Exotics on Fridays and Wildlife on Sundays.

The animals I worked with in exotics were not able to go up for adoption yet. They were either too injured or sick to be adopted. I worked with animals that would come in with cat scratches, teeth marks, broke limbs, or even malnutrition issues. Most of these problems were dealt with by the volunteers. I would clean cages, feed animals, deliver medication, and clean wounds when necessary.

Animals in the Wildlife division never go up for adoption. They are either made healthy enough to release or are put down when absolutely necessary. I worked in the bird nursery which was a tricky name because we also cared for baby squirrels in there. We dealt with small birds, not sea birds. The mammals and sea birds were taken care of by interns and staff. The birds in the nursery were on a timer feeding schedule of either every thirty minutes, every forty-five minutes, every hour, or every two hours. When the timers went off, us volunteers frantically went through feeding the birds. Some birds required more attention, and required us to force feed them. My favorite part, was feeding the squirrels. Every three hours the squirrels had to be syringe fed. There were two types of squirrel formula, one for the squirrels under four weeks of age and those older then four weeks. This was determined by whether or not there eyes were open or not. They were the cutest and hardest animals to feed of me. They aspirated very easily, so we had to be careful when feeding them. Aspiration happens when you feed them too fast and the formula gets into their lungs.

This summer I will be applying for an unpaid internship with the Wildlife Department at the Humane Society. I will work three days a week for a minimum of eight hours a week, for three months. I will not only continue to work with animals in the bird nursery, but I will also be able to work with the larger birds and mammals.

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Why Vet?

“Tyson, come” He looks up at me, all sad, and peels his ears back. “Tyson, come over here!” Finally he gets up and walks very slowly in my direction, but stops right before he reaches me. He knows what is going to come next. I prepare the syringe before I call him, letting the liquid inside warm up to room temperature so he won’t complain. I grab the scruff of his neck and inject allergy medicine into his skin. The first time I gave my dog an injection I had my mom, a nurse, double-check the syringe, but now I feel completely confident in my abilities.

Tyson is high maintenance. Because he gets rashes from his allergies I bathe him once a week and give him pills twice a day. I have to give him injections every other day and take him to the park to run because he has so much energy. Even though I have grown up with dogs, Tyson is the one that requires the most attention and has motivated me to learn to care for his special needs.

My family calls me the dog whisperer because I connect so well with animals. My first “client” was my dog Caylee; I started training her when I was twelve. Then I trained both of my sister’s dogs. And now, Tyson. Even though both of my parents are doctors, I am the one who is responsible for giving him his medication and shots. I go to every veterinary appointment so I know what is happening with him. I do it because I just have a good feel for what needs to be done.

I have always known I loved working with animals, but Tyson inspired my interest in veterinary medicine. At age fourteen, I began volunteering at the Peninsula Humane Society, walking dogs. Then when I was seventeen I was able to start shadowing a veterinarian. At her office, I was exposed to small animal check-ups and realized I wanted to learn more about this field. That is why I applied to the summer program at Tufts Veterinary School.

At Tufts, I had the opportunity to work with many different kinds of animals for ten days. Living in the suburbs, I had only seen dogs and cats before. During the program I rotated through different sections of Tufts’ veterinary hospitals–including surgery–and I worked with pigs, sheep, cows, and horses, as well as wildlife and exotic animals. It was exciting and fun to be exposed to something completely different–the larger animals were less predictable than housepets, but I found that over time I grew more comfortable with them as I understood their body language.

The veterinary experience also gave me a different perspective on animals, and a sense of pride. When animals are the patients, they cannot tell you what is wrong or where it hurts. They cannot tell you that they ate a ball or got near a rattlesnake. You have to rely on your instincts and remember that you have the knowledge to help them. I got such a thrill from watching the vet students figure out what was wrong with each patient and find a way to fix it. It is a rewarding feeling knowing that you have the power to help something that cannot help itself.

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Whats Up With AP Bio?

At first, I wasn’t sure if I made the right decision in joining this class. I thought this would be another boring Biology class. I learned that there was much more then just reading a text book. There was many different aspects that made this a unique class, but I am going to reflect on three: labs, field trips, and the people.

The labs were very fun, especially when we did not have to write a lab write up. I know that the write ups are apart of the labs, but it was more interesting without the stresses of the write up. I really enjoyed he pig dissection because this gave us a chance to look at the body system. It was interesting how similar the body structure of the pig was to the human body system. Another lab I really enjoyed was the pGlo lab. (Even though the project afterward was really hard.) I liked how we used different petri dishes to determine the exact reason the bacteria was glowing or growing. You can take a better look at the pGlo, pig dissection, or other labs in the other blog and lab posts.

The field trips was a fun way to get out of the class room and learn about the environment. My favorite field trip was when we went to the Moss Beach field study. By that time, we knew each other pretty well. It was nice to hang out with friends and learn a little about the environment. The only downside was that it was freezing and wet. However, even the project about the marsh was fun. We counted organisms and took great pictures. All in all, it was a great experience.

When I first joined the class, I wasn’t really friends with any of the girls, I knew most of them, but I never talked to them before. It turned out that the people I didn’t know or had never talked to, became the girls that I always talk to in the halls, online, or text. I text Serena and Nicole almost every day. I talk to Hannah and Lisa when I pass them in the hall. Even though I meet this girls for the first time in Biology class, we have all become very good friends. I am upset that now I will be going to college and will be so far away. However, I know that we will meet up during breaks and text or email (because Hannah does not have a phone or Facebook) constantly. 

AP Biology was so much more then a class. For all the future students reading or watching this, I have one major piece of advice for you. Take advantage of every opportunity that this class offers you. You might not get these opportunities again. Even though you might only know these girls from this one class for this one year, you will be seeing them everyday. Get to know them and find your good friends. I know you will rock this class next year. Good luck.

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