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Second place winner Richard Rovelli Colonie Central High School

Emerson and Biochemistry

I’m a nerd. I enjoy school, get thrilled during science class, and have even resorted to publicly showing my admiration for my Biochemistry textbook because my love for DNA replication is just too powerful. But then again, who can resist the seductive enzymes known as Helicase and DNA Polymerase III or those sneaky little single-stranded binding proteins? I’m obviously speaking to a cloud of air.

My fascination with this subject has earned me an impressive amount of critics. The “normal” high school student should be out with friends, going to parties, and earnestly rebelling against all schoolwork as part of the grand disease known as Senioritis. Homework is the source of evil in the world and anyone who actually studies is downright mentally insane. I have to follow the revolutionary trend of seniors in high school if I truly want to fit into society, society which will, ironically, disintegrate in a few months as these nonconformist students enter the brave new world of college life. Nevertheless, I will have the record know that I have attended zero parties in my illustrious four year career, and I have studied for every single assessment so far this year! Such behavior is churlish and absolutely unacceptable, is it not?

Well, I couldn’t be prouder than I am right now. The venerable Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated that, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” I take relief in the fact that I’ve proved his theory true. The dangerous sway of the high school social scene has dragged many an unwilling soul into its dangerous tides, but I’ve resisted its curses (much like ampicillin does in a bacterial culture). Not only have I remained an ally to ever-fading education, but I’ve built my reputation and total mental pride on the fact that I love science and its wonders while most everyone else has turned a blind eye to it. In essence, I’m an individual, an individual who has found his niche in this world and has triumphantly fended off the repeated attacks of those who challenge Emerson’s eccentric wisdom. It is the whole idea of individualism that makes me who I am, an average teenager who chose gel electrophoresis over partying and over those making some very questionable choices all before the age of eighteen. It must be understood, furthermore, that Emerson never divulged his thoughts on what exactly made up one’s “...greatest accomplishment.” The main principle dictates that individuals win out over large social groups, those with passion over those who passively follow others. Push me as they will, I will never divulge my personalized affinity for science for a fun night out at the club.

Some people may wonder why I value such a disagreement as much as I do. If I have nothing to do with the idea of a nonchalant senior year, then why attack it for no reason? As an individual, as a science-loving geek of sorts, it’s my duty. The very words Emerson used to call for strong-willed, counterculture minds also demands that they speak up for what they believe in. Not only have I embraced my love for biological chemistry, but I have also shared this likeness with others, some receptive and some, well, let’s just say they haven’t spoken to me since. The world needs people ready to believe in what others cannot, ready to voice opinions where others may lay mute. It is that theme which I have striven for, and achieved, through my eventful four years of high school and it’s that rugged love of the individual mind which Ralph Waldo Emerson cherished and proclaimed.