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2012 Winter Essay Contest Winner - Student

3rd Place Winner
Mona Panchal
Teacher: Ms. Jessica Peterson
Cayucos Elementary School
Morro Bay, CA



"One good teacher in a lifetime may sometimes change a delinquent into a solid citizen." Upon hearing this quote by Philip Wylie, I often think of the wonderful things that have changed about me in the past year. Without the outstanding teachers in my world, I would be leading a completely different lifestyle in maybe some of the worst ways imaginable. Without these role models, my life along with many others will have gone down the drain at such a young and tender age. Many children do not have any proper guidance outside of school, including myself. My parents are amazing, but being a child of parents who were not raised in America, I didn't have very many people to look up to because the culture and lifestyles of America were and still remain foreign to them. Due to the beliefs of my parents, I was rarely around the parents of my peers so, of course, it is only natural that I look up to the people I surround myself with on a day to day basis..

Of course, being the person I am, it wasn't easy to turn these regular people into my role models. Since I am a person who has trust issues, these teachers first had to get past a neutral relationship to hold the positive influence they have in my life today. My belief is that any teacher can hold a positive relationship with all students. As a student, I want my teachers to treat me as an equal. I do not want someone who will try to put me in my place, but somone who will help me get to the place I want to be. I also want that teacher to be open-minded and willing to hear my ideas no matter how puny they are. A teacher can have a positive relationship with students with little to no effort. Students like someone who has a decent sense of humor, someone that is understanding, supportive, helpful, lenient, and willing to help even at two o'clock in the morning. Basically, students want someone who "gets" them, understands she was once one of them. To me, a good teacher is entertaining, understanding, encouraging, supportive, comforting, and caring. I believe a good teacher is someone who won't give up on you no matter how much they want to. A good teacher is willing to help you get where you want to go, listens to you, and treats you not only you as a student, but as a friend.

My teachers influence my citizenship and character in many ways. Before I had the teachers I do today, I never imagined I would enjoy doing the things I do on a daily basis. Before middle school, I never thought I would spend my free time volunteering at the county library or willingly spending my weekends picking up trash on the beach. Before forming an emotional bond with my teachers, I may have been on the road to delinquency. One year ago, I was a completely different person. For starters, I was rather selfish and careless. Tattoos and body piercing captivated me, and the thought of drugs almost excited me. Without my teachers wanting me to go back to what I once thought were my boring old ways, I would be a terrible citizen in my community, and I would be a lost cause. I had long ago given up on myself, but of course my teachers knew of the dreams I had nurtured as a child, and now I am back to those very dreams of studying pediatrics and helping children. Without these people in my life, I truly would be a lost cause. My teachers have shaped me into the young lady I am becoming today.

I first began getting back on track when I first heard about Tech Trek, a science camp for girls that encourages them to pursue a career in math or science. My science teacher nominated me and encouraged me to go through with it. Getting accepted to Tech Trek had encouraged me to not give up and to keep working no matter how hard it may seem. My history teacher often announced how good I am in his class despite how I almost never paid attention. I was an extremely lazy student who always did her homework at the very last second and never paid attention in class. Despite the fact that everyone thought I was failing, he often announced how amazing I am. His chronic recognition of me in his class had given me a boost of enthusiasm. I was definitely back on track after getting nominated for USAA. Getting this prestigious award has proved to me and my loved ones that I could do anything with a little bit of effort. This award has encouraged me to follow my dreams. Getting recognized by my teachers and getting some great honors and awards has motivated me to become what I am becoming today. I am now working my way up the educational ladder in hopes of going to Stanford University to pursue my dreams of being a doctor and opening a free clinic in third world countries. The teachers in my life have helped shape me into the young woman I am becoming today.