I mentioned at the beginning of assembly that Stephen Bess who incidentally is is watching this in California right now had initiated this idea because he felt profoundly changed and influenced by the writing program at MBA and by some of his teachers particularly dr. Pascal my predecessor who was his English teacher and he wanted to essentially say to the student body and to the faculty that the writing process made a difference in his own life and in his professional career Stephen probably would have been here today for this event but he he got sick this year and he’s actually struggling with a type of cancer and he’s undergoing a bone-marrow transplant on April 23rd he wrote me last night about about this morning and about that process and how a lot of the lessons he learned here would give him he thought the endurance and fortitude to do well under a pretty tough circumstances because not only does he have to have that transplant on the 23rd he will have to be in the ICU unit for about a month to make sure that things are okay so clearly I’m saying to him that on behalf of the school community we wish him the best and and certainly say good morning very early to you out there Stephen and hope you enjoy this contest our college admissions office asks the seniors to submit their essays for the competition and then they narrow the number of entries to the three finalists that we’ll hear today and and then the panel in front of me will judge which one is the best and will recognize the winner at the end of assembly so it’s their own order it’ll be first Tate ramsden and then Chris ha Berman and then Hamilton mill we let’s recognize all three as take comes up someone I have never met has changed my life as a young boy I spent many afternoons during the summer on the fifth floor of one Belle Meade place my dad’s office building waiting for him to give me a ride although these afternoons often pass without much excitement each day was punctuated by faint singing on the street below looking out the window I could make out a man in the distance waiting at the nearest bus stop not only would mr. happy seeing unintelligible nonsense at the top of his lungs it also climbed onto the bus stop bench to amplify his voice after the first couple of days I quizzically asked my dad what and why the strange man was shouting at every passing car my dad simply Shogun’s told me that mr. happy saying because he was happy to be alive even after this simple explanation mr. happy continued to Brooke to perplex me upon my next visit to the office which of course meant witnessing another dose of singing from the top of the bench I watched into another round of questioning as with any other inquisitive eight-year-old from this investigation I discovered that mr. happy worked a minimum-wage job at the local target apparently he managed to hold all the singing in a work instead saving it to preach his message of pure joy at the bus stop that night when I returned home from swim practice I immediately asked my mom if she knew of the man of the bus stop almost instantaneously she let up and said mr. happy of course I do everyone knows mr. happy this introduction to mr. happy soon changed my perspective on goals and expectations within a private school world onefold pressures to succeed as a gentleman scholar athlete while all these pillars remain extremely important to me I’ve discovered that approaching life with an honest joy can completely redefine success myself expectations remain as high as ever but I forced myself to stop and enjoy all that high school has to offer from Friday night football games to truly enjoying learning new material in class almost anyone else would find mr. Happy’s life boring and unsuccessful this man however has learned to find joy and simply being alive Richard Kipling noted that the quest for wealth often produces emptiness someday you will meet a man who cares for none of these things then you will know how poor you are even though I’ve never met mr. happy a local target worker has managed changed my life every time I see him inside the store he reminds me once again what it means to lead a truly happy existence despite owning no car and holding a minimum-wage job his managed to influence one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Nashville reminding every passing car at 5:30 that happiness can come to anyone who looks in the right places the Sun was shining brightly overhead as I was playing with my friend outside the Montessori Center preschool we were two heroes fighting hordes of evildoers and villains with invisible swords and guns halfway through her conquest I asked him who are we fighting he responded the Germans of course they’re awful my great-great-grandfather killed dozens of them and the world war two after the battle I went around the playground asking other kids what they thought about the Germans all of them who said they didn’t like them and that the Nazis which I told me were the was what bad Germans were called I was horrified at this thought that my dad who came from Germany could be some sort of fiend and watching Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark that night did not help this image I became even more terrified when I found out that he was an alien little Dino that his green card simply meant that he was from a different country not a different planet it was much easier to come to terms with my mom’s heritage than with my father’s when I tell people that I’m part Indian they say oh Gandhi when I told them that part German they say Oh Hitler apparently my skin colour is deceiving causing other people to think that Mexican Greek Middle Eastern or some other dark complexion nest’ nationality I told them half German half Indian 100% American this German side of me however can make me feel less than 100% American at times I remember my teacher in third grade asking the class if any of our forefathers had in the world wars my shy mumbled eight-year-old response was yeah but now on the side you’re thinking of it took me a while to come to terms with my heritage it happened in my grandmother’s house in Germany when I was 10 I was exploring every nook and cranny since I came here at best only once a year and the study upstairs I had a foreboding feeling as I set my eyes upon a drawer in the bookcase something dark was in the bottom of that drawer something that I had found years before but chose to forget Drummer my Chester to beat faster and faster reaching a fevered pitch as I touched something cold and metallic underneath all the papers I knew that this was it I pulled it out I remembered finding the item when I was much younger about 6:00 or so immediately running down the stairs as fast my low legs take me to Hydra Neath my covers I gaze upon it after I pulled it out it was sinister than I remembered the medal was beginning to rest and the cream-colored plastic feeling ivory grip was tripped but where the help and the blade met was still that dastardly symbol a German eagle standing atop of a swastika this time I wasn’t over overcome by a wave of fear okay I may have been a little scared but rather accepted my roots by now I knew that now all Nazis were bad but usually good German people who just wanted to survive an extremely oppressive regime thankfully my family falling to that latter description they even had a Jewish woman during the height of the war this time instead of running away scared I started to steward for a few minutes store fought my shadow as any self-respecting ten-year-old boy would do and then gently placed it back so that I could continue with my exploration of the house this event taught me one crucial lesson without knowledge I felt powerless when I was young I thought that all Germans in the Nazi era were dark destructive and demonic with this inchoate image of my past I had felt scared and powerless once I learned more however I was able to face my fears and overcome them the motto of my high school fortitudo Persky anthem to scandium resounds with me that think back to the moment that started my desire to learn as much as possible through knowledge comes strength thank you it’s 5:30 in the morning the Sun is peeking over the Boston skyline the elderly speed walkers and warmups are filing out their front doors the smell of McGriddle is wafting through the air and two teenagers are lying face down in the middle of commonwealth avenue this scene may seem dripped from a surrealist sketchpad but to me it’s simply the morning after a far more enlightening night my name is Hamilton mui and i’m lying on the pavement next row moroccan girl named Salma a friend I met the night before who changed my life forever the night before my fellow students and I at Boston University high school honors program were corralled into the dining hall in fact a record-breaking heat wave had struck the city and forced all of us into the only room with air conditioning in fact with no homework I was passing the time playing Texas Hold’em with two natives of Dallas and Salma at 11 p.m. while all the other students were nodding off Salma and I were just beginning our discussions we both enjoyed foreign policy we both loved kpop and most importantly we both shared a very strong faith in God but to her he was Allah never before had I discussed at length with someone faithfully he was not a Christian her trust and dedication amazed me she said something I had thought strange coming from a non-christian at the time if you believe in a loving God a power far greater than yourself why don’t you try to incorporate that greatness into your life every single day as much as possible I was feeling a crisis of conscience coming from the Bible Belt I’d grown up in church in fact I was told from the moment I left the womb that Jesus was the only way and that everyone who doesn’t believe he’s the son of God cannot have eternal life and though I had questioned that statements authenticity multiple times before never before had I been this conflicted here was a girl who was as devoted to her faith as I was to mine if not more and in my ignorance I’d even viewed Muslims as people who may pray multiple times a day but don’t really believe people who fate use their faith to push a political agenda I’d not actually stop to think that one might think the exact same thing of Christian looking at sama and her faith I realized that no living human would ever be positive that his or her faith is right and it would be a little bit too late to change anything when he or she did until that day that we can until that day all that we can hope is to follow the faith that we choose wholeheartedly while remaining open to new ideas I found that closed mindedness is the bane of progress and of truth she and I continue to exchange ideas and compare lives into the wee hours of the morning in honor of all not in fact an honor of our all-nighter and in order to take part in a growing fad she mentioned that we should plank a few objects around Boston and one of those included Commonwealth Avenue the lack of cars may have helped but laying prone on one of the busiest streets in Boston while another person takes a picture is a great way to christen a new friendship and a newly found cultural understanding sadly due to sheer distance I’m only maintaining one of those two today since I got back to Nashville though I’ve sought out new people of different faiths ethnic backgrounds and Heritage’s simply to create a dialogue and to get to know each other I try at least once a day to be a Samba for someone else well I’d like to thank the three participants this morning in the essay contest College Admissions is a topic I think of great interest with a lot of people nationally and internationally and as mr. Gaines and I were talking before the program today college admissions has changed dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years it’s gotten much more competitive and so the college essays become a distinguishing factor among applications that have or students whose applications have very similar numbers and very similar achievements in different kinds of way so you saw this morning I think three different examples of really great essays so thank you three for sharing the good news for us at MBA is that that a lot of seniors could have submitted their essays because they’ve worked really hard the senior class has worked really hard on crafting and developing essays that reflect who they are reflect their individual talents reflect what they hope to achieve later on in life reflect their passions and and really give college admissions officers a good sense of what they might do when they get to their campus and that’s really one of the most important things about the college essay is that students help themselves distinguish themselves in an incredibly selective admissions pool but I’m going to tell you guys the categories that the judge is judged on they that the different categories are clear organized essay topic is appropriate for for a college essay it helps the audience to learn something about the student the essay captures your attention and the essay will help the student to stand out in an applicant pool I think all three of these definitely did that and based on their college admissions decisions that absolutely help them in the process but today they had to choose a winner among these three and today’s winner is Chris Habermann you

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