August 27, 2014

Fifth Prize #2: More than just a Number

Fifth Prize #2: Kendall J. Paris Flossmoor, IL:  The University of Iowa

More than just a Number

Hi! My name is Kendall Jaye Paris and I am a horrible standardized test taker.

It’s true some might consider this a failure.  This, however, does not define me.  It defies logic based on my successes in and out of the classroom, but it is not who I am.

I could recite the names of our fifty United States in alphabetical order (in less than thirty seconds) by the time I was five.  I competed for six years in Taekwondo, earning my third degree black belt and numerous awards and trophies.  I can break boards – really hard solid boards – I can disarm a person possessing a weapon.  I have volunteered to teach a six year old boy how to write his name, to read, and to tie his shoes.  Now that’s a daunting task that I accepted without hesitation.  Accomplish all that in six months with a child living in one of the most crime ridden areas of the Chicago suburbs?   Bring it on!  So you don’t scare me, ACT.  I do give you credit for tripping up some pretty awesome fellow students I have had the pleasure of knowing.  And that is where my “admiration” ends.

ACT beat me?  I don’t think so.  I didn’t back down when I was teased for my speech impediment. (It’s not even that bad.  How do kids notice these things?  They are probably good standardized test takers, too.)  I didn’t let my best friend’s diagnosis of cancer at the age of eight scare me or render me paralyzed with fear, or the subsequent diagnosis of cancer that three of my uncles received in a matter of five years, define my life or my future.  I come from a long line of very strong women.  ACT, you don’t frighten me.  I don’t cower.  No way.  I keep going.   I have experienced far too many tragic and untimely deaths of friends, family members, and teachers to be afraid of a standardized test.  Just another challenge.  That’s all.  It’s more motivation to continue to strengthen myself inside and out.

A “standardized snapshot” to determine whether or not high schoolers will be successful in their college career?  Not impressed by that.  I’m a fighter (and a lover), an MVP award-winning varsity golfer, a badminton team captain, a National Honor Society student, a showcased graphic designer, a section leader violist.  Improvise a jazz piece on viola to fill unexpected time at a concert: I’m your girl.  Design tour brochures for our high school symphony orchestra trip to Brazil: I got you! Stand up and lead our high school’s “Operation Snowball” group in song/dance:  Been there.  Done that.  Organize, design, sell, and distribute spirit wear for our high school golf team.  Done. Done. Done, and done.

I will use any scholarship money I am fortunate to be awarded to pursue my dream of earning a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences.  Upon graduation, I will attend graduate school and earn my master’s degree.  I will accomplish all of this, so that I may one day teach children with speech disorders.  I will make sure that there is at least one less of “us” to bully.

I am Kendall Jaye Paris, a horrible standardized test taker.  This was confirmed (without question) as I completed numerous college and scholarship applications.  I am, however, so much more than a number (though less than 36). I am so much more than the results recorded from one test, on one day, could ever hope to capture.  I am first and foremost a daughter, a sister, a niece, a granddaughter, a friend, a volunteer, an honor student, a teacher, a leader, an athlete, a musician, an artist, and a future successful college alumna.

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