Hi! I’m Mary a Junior at Harvard studying Statistics currently choosing between a secondary field in History or Government. I went to a large public high school in Connecticut- there were 670 students in my grade alone- so extra-curriculars were very important in terms of building community and friendships at school.
Although I played water polo and tutored throughout high school, looking back on my experience it is my time in a program called We the People that stands out to me. Throughout high school I was very interested in history and government, and still am as my ongoing choice of secondary field shows. I decided to participate my school’s team my junior year when I took AP Government. In case you haven’t hear of it, We The People is a program that aims to build civic awareness and engagement in students across the US. At the high school level that means joining a team that competes in mock congressional debate around historical issues, for example interpretation of the Bill of Rights, as well as current ones, for example the relationship between the US Constitution and ones around the world.
For me being a part of the team meant showing up to school once a week at 6 AM to practice debate with my teammates as well as many late nights spent researching and prepping these materials. All this was to prepare for the big State competition in December. Two weeks before, our team hit a bump-in-the road- a member dropped leaving us scrambling for someone to fil their spot. Although I was reluctant to take on the extra work, I stepped up and scrambled over the next two weeks to learn-up on my ex-teammates role. Finally, it was time for States where competed alongside other teams from across Connecticut. The experience of getting to demonstrate my hard work over the course of the semester was incredibly fulfilling to me. However this is not the reason this experience stands out. It stands out to me because we got second- making this the first time in years that the team from my school for did not go on to compete at Nationals.
Understandably, we were devastated and I couldn’t help but feel it was my own fault as I felt I could have been a much stronger member were I not spread so thinly over the two roles. Ultimately, however not only did my team became much closer thanks to the defeat but it impacted me personally as well. Dealing with this failure and eventually feeling proud about my contribution to the team and willingness to step up has, somewhat ironically, made coming in second one of most meaningful experiences in High School.