2016 Essay Competition - View all entries

Hidden Passion

Kimberly Robles - Chesapeake, VA, United States

Everyone has a hidden interest or story that has served to change them, for worse or for better. I have moved around a lot because I am a military child, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Though there are times that are gut wrenching, the assets are the most exhilarating.

I was a sophomore living in Italy and one day in my Applied Physics class, my science teacher recommended me to attend the STEMposium being held in Wiesbaden, Germany. I was surprised more or less because my main career focus was to write books so I was not interested in STEM. I didn’t even think I would be good at it; however, I took the opportunity to stop being indolent and sent my application. Time passed and I found out that I was going to participate at STEMposium as Team Nu’s Environmental Engineer for a week. I was excited because I would be away from school for a week, but I was nervous as well because I was worried the other participants would have a genius IQ and I would be nothing but a burden to everyone.

Those feelings grew to the point where I thought I was choking, and it got worse the closer the plane flew to Germany. I began to wonder: “Kim, what were you thinking?” But those feelings were short-lived after I landed and I looked around. That was when I realized that I was in a foreign country. That was when I realized Germany is so beautiful. That was when I realized that I was living the opportunity that not many American teenagers receive. That is when I decided to make the best of the moment.

As I did my role and learned what it meant to be an environmental engineer, I instantaneously developed a new passion: I want to save our earth. After my week away from home, I noticed certain emotions that have always been within me but have never been recognized, and those emotions are ever-growing to this day. Whenever I see construction workers tear down trees to build a new house or another store, I get infuriated and I begin lecturing, to anyone who listens, about my future environmental goals and why people need to stop tearing down trees. When I see so many cars outside pass my window every day, I think about how every year the Earth gets significantly warmer; for example, in Germany, it was the snow season and guess what I saw: Flowers. Flowers in December! No dead leaves or snow, but flowers in sundry-colored pedals on lively stems.

I am now a senior, and it has been just over two years since my venture to splendid Germany. And in this time, I have come to recognize my weaknesses and strengths concerning the matter and although I do not wish to mix chemicals or build solar panels (math is not my forte), I do wish to defend my home—our home—and make a statement everyday as an environmental attorney and as an environmentalist overall by driving, in the future, an electric car; preserving water; washing my laundry in cold water; turning down the air conditioner; and anything else I can possibly think of, like living in underground homes as some are already doing.

If I never went to Germany, I would not be this confident person sitting here writing this essay. I know what I want to do and this particular experience is something I will forever carry with me. I still like reading books, but I no longer wish to write my own for various reasons, one of them being simply that books are no longer my strongest passion. I will forever be grateful to my science teacher for this one influential week of my life.

My message to those who have not decided on a career is: try something new that you would never envision yourself doing. I did. I took a chance and I think everyone else should as well. For some it will be instantaneous and some will have to be patient because there is so much to discover. When you find it you will feel all sorts of confidence you never even knew existed. And there may be more than one reason you become who you are. For example, in order to become an attorney, I had to be confident in an argument and since I like to argue anyway, I joined the debate team. And I absolutely love it. So get out there because your future career can lead you to finding you true self.