“How Were Your Interests Shaped From Your Upbringing?”


Most of you know that I am in my senior year of high school. I am applying for the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) for an Associate Degree in Electro Optics. My application is almost finished, and I plan to have it mailed very soon. One of the things in the application process was writing the essay I am sharing in this blog entry. This essay was completely optional for all Undergraduate majors, and they gave no specific information about the content, format and length requirements. My parents, teachers and friends all encouraged me to write this essay because it most likely would increase my chance of being accepted. I searched for some prompts online and I chose to write about this one. I thought it fit my experiences with Asperger’s Syndrome really well.

Here was the prompt question.

“What are the reasons for your interests? Analyze your childhood. How were your interests shaped from your upbringing?”

“There are many students from typical public high schools who have no idea what they want to do after they graduate. I am attending the Lenape Technical School for Electronics Technology, and it has really helped me learn some of the basic skills I will need in order to obtain a career in Electro Optics. Throughout my junior and senior years at Lenape, I have come to realize that my interests as a child really led me to pursue a career in this growing field.

My interests as a young child were not thought of as “normal”, according to adults and my peers.  I started out my young childhood with a big interest in things that spin, in particular fans.  Anytime I would see a fan that was on, I would become mesmerized by it and watch it spin.  My parents could not figure out why that was the case.  They were thinking, “It’s just a simple old fan, there are other things in the world to talk about besides that. Why can’t I expose him to other things?”  I not only enjoyed watching the blades spin, but, I also enjoyed the feel of the air and the subtle noise of it blowing in the room.

My favorite holiday has always been and always will be Christmas because of all the lights and the decorations. Two of my favorite pastimes during this busy season are decorating the Christmas tree and driving past other people’s decorated houses.  I always enjoyed helping my mom put the lights on the Christmas tree.  We would cover our ten-foot wide Christmas tree with multi colored lights and ornaments, and sometimes we would string popcorn. While we were putting the lights up on the tree, it was my job to search for any bulbs that didn’t work. Mom would send me over to the bag full of spare bulbs and I would hand it to her. Any mention of Christmas brings these moments as I picture this time with my family.

My father has been an engineer at Alcoa for thirty years. As a result, he will take any household appliance apart and try to figure out what is wrong with it. When I was in about the fourth grade, my father took me to Lowes and I asked him if I could buy a ceiling fan for my bedroom. He discussed it with my mother, and they decided to let me buy one with my own money. The fan I bought was a Harbor Breeze model with a light and a remote control. My father and I had no trouble putting the fan together and the light worked, but we had trouble getting the remote to turn the fan on. It was time to troubleshoot, which can be a very tedious and frustrating step in working with anything electrical or mechanical. It finally did work after about four hours of troubleshooting. I was not only happy I had a ceiling fan in my room, but I was also glad I had the opportunity to watch my dad install it.

My first experience where I actually worked with electronics was at the Computing Workshop summer program. I had the opportunity to build my own laser light show kit. The kit was a circuit board with two rotating motors with mirrors on the end. The kit came with components that required soldering. It had two knobs that controlled the speed of each motor, and two switches that controlled the direction each motor turned. The laser pattern would change every time I would adjust the switches and knobs. My relatives were amazed by the patterns and shapes the laser would make.

Many of the things I was interested in as a child determined why I feel I should obtain a career in electro optics. That is a statement people often don’t understand when they say my interests are not “normal”.  Organizations like Computing Workshop and the Lenape Technical School deserve the credit for helping me learn about the skills I will need for this growing field. These organizations helped me “see the light” in electro optics. I am proud of the educators that have made me what I am today”.

I hope everybody enjoyed reading this, and that it made you think how their interests as a child could eventually shape them to pursue a successful career in a field related to their interests. That is something people don’t think about very often. I am planning to write a blog about the Temple Grandin movie, and she is the first person I think about when I write this essay. She empathized with animals growing up, and she went to college for Animal Husbandry (Animal Science). She went through teasing and harassment from people her entire life, but she didn’t let it discourage her. I know I will not let the harassment discourage me either, because it’s not about them, it’s about me.

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One thought on ““How Were Your Interests Shaped From Your Upbringing?”

  1. Really enjoyed reading your personal statement.

    And especially the bit about lights at Christmas time. This segues naturally into a career in fibre optics.

    (And Christmas is often the make or break of a successful upbringing, and creates and inspires interest).

    I like this last statement too:

    “I know I will not let the harassment discourage me either, because it’s not about them, it’s about me.”

    Yes, your life is about you. The harrassment is about them.

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