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Describe any personal or economic hardships or barriers you have had to overcome and explain how they affected your education. Be specific about when you encountered these hardships and how long they lasted. From kindergarten to graduation I attended a private school operated by devout Latter Day Saints. While they did their best to teach from a neutral standpoint, there were subjects that were in direct conflict with their religious views. Science education was extremely limited due to limited resources and conflict with personal ideology. Subjects such as biology and history were covered, but without any depth. Consequently, my math education was a casualty. Early on I heard phrases such as, “It’s okay so long as you understand the concept, you’re artistic.” I took these statements to heart. I loved the arts, and outside of school, it was what I pursued. As math became more difficult, my tenuous grasp on the basics failed me. Rather than pushing me to learn, my teachers merely reassured me that as an artistic person, I would not need to know advanced math. By high school I not only feared math, but believed that I wasn’t smart enough to understand it. This made choosing a major a difficult task. I would consider a field, look up the requirements, and if there were math courses I would automatically reject it as a possibility. A year after graduation I finally chose to enroll in Edmonds Community College’s Hospitality and Tourism program. It was through this program that I discovered accounting, which I quickly developed an enthusiasm for.While I had completed my hospitality classes with ease, accounting was the first class I had actually enjoyed. Curious about accounting careers, I began researching, only to find the program overflowing with math courses. I wanted to change my major, but didn’t believe that I could pass the classes. As it happened, my decision was delayed by my mother’s illness. During the previous year she had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and it soon became evident that she was not going to recover. My focus changed from school to providing her with care, and when she eventually did pass away in 2009, I dropped out of school. I spent three years battling depression. In 2012 I returned to school and decided to take my chances and enroll in College Algebra. That class and every math class since has been a struggle to catch up on concepts that were taught early on. However each success brought me the realization that my preconception of my mathematical skill was unfounded. Math continues to be a subject that I must work hard in, however it is not the impossible task that I had once believed it to be.

In the context of your life experience, describe your understanding of cultural differences, how this awareness was acquired, and how it affected you. Though I grew up in a small, predominantly white community, I did not lack exposure to different cultures. A majority of my classmates in school were raised Mormon, and as a result, many of my friends were as well. At a young age I didn’t give religion much thought (later in life I would not identify as religious), but as I grew older I realized that in order to maintain a healthy relationship with my friends, I would have to give their beliefs consideration. At first this meant simple things like planning sleepovers that didn’t fall on Sundays and watching movies rated no higher than PG-13. As I grew older and closer with them, it meant attending a variety of Church sanctioned functions. In particular, I attended a summer camp, ‘Girls Camp’ for 7 years where young women were sent in order to strengthen their Gospel. Although nearly everyone knew I was not a member, they welcomed and befriended me as if I were. I was even given the option not to participate in the more spiritual activities, but their willingness to include me made me want to reciprocate by respecting their beliefs and attending with an open mind. Every year I learned more about their religious views and values, and came to appreciate their way of life.
It wasn’t until I attended EFY, that I realized what it was like to be on the outside. While camp had been composed of about 100 girls, EFY was so large that it had to beheld at the BYU campus in Utah. Without worry, my friend and I told some of our group mates that I wasn’t Mormon, and by the third day, everyone in our group knew. Iwas bombarded with questions as to why I hadn’t converted yet, and accusatory statements about my presence, since it meant that a Mormon girl somewhere had been turned down to attend. Young men were required to escort us from building to building, but suddenly none of them wanted to walk with me. My friend was forced to explain to me that for many LDS; EFY was a way to meet young women that they had the potential to marry. Since I wasn’t Mormon, they had no interest in getting to know me. That week was miserable. I couldn’t understand people snubbing me for something as basic as religion, but when I turned 18, it became worse. Adults who had been pleasant were suddenly aloof and began excluding my friend and I. I was an adult now, and my choice not to convert had been taken as a personal affront. Not wanting to be pressured into something I didn’t believe in, I cut my ties with the Church. My experiences have taught me that individuals do not represent a whole. No group of people should be viewed negatively due to the actions of some. While some Mormons rejected me, there were just as many who accepted me, and I continue to appreciate what they taught me. My understanding of culture is that there must be patience and sincerity on both sides in order to bridge the differences, and that a truly open mind does not seek to change a person, but to welcome them no matter what their system of beliefs is.…...

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