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Five competitions. Four grades. Three state medals. Two years and counting. One family. 

I never considered myself to be one to be the “smartest,” at least in the conventional sense.  When I first tried out for the Science Olympiad in my sophomore year, I had no idea where it would take me. My decision took a complete leap of faith, and it was with some surprise that I found myself among the 15 students who would be representing the team at competitions. I felt so out of place, surrounded by my teammates who seemed so much more accomplished than I. 

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Little did I know I would be capable of identifying an entire list of 113 different invasive species by sight. Little did I know I would channel my inner Sherlock Holmes and find the culprit using unassuming evidence.  Never did I expect to walk up at awards ceremonies, claiming medal after medal.  Through studying and competing with my teammates, I also quickly realized that all of my previous notions about these seemingly aloof science whizzes were wrong. Far from being the standoffish geniuses who I feared would judge my every mistake, my Science Olympiad teammates were crazy, curious, and caring people who have been my family away from home and have encouraged me to push myself harder than I thought was possible.  Their passion for Science Olympiad and camaraderie with each other has inspired me, in turn, to come out of my shell, and embrace my strengths and weaknesses.  Science Olympiad taught me that I am sometimes the one who sets my own limits, and that I have complete power to break those restrictions. 

My Science Olympiad career has shaped my identity, aspirations, and life in ways that I never could have imagined. The competition medals displayed on my bedroom bookshelf are, without a doubt, a part of my greatest pride and joy.  Once I leave home, however, they will sit and collect dust — but I will carry with me what I have learned wherever I go, for an eternity.

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