I Believe That I Can

Grace - Louisville, Kentucky
Entered on May 5, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I am a junior in high school, and like most juniors, I am a victim of standardized testing. Every year, those fortunate enough to afford college are branded by society’s standards of what is brilliant and what is not, completely discrediting the individualism to which adolescents strive. Standardized tests not only turn test takers into mere scores but dictate the takers’ worth to colleges. We are forced to sacrifice several Friday nights a year for these early morning judgment days, only to be rewarded with a score determining that we do not meet the “standards” of our dream schools. Despite the importance of it all, most test days are quite dull. I get up, eat the recommended “big healthy breakfast,” and head off to be branded. When the brutality has subsided, all that remains are distressed high school students, too frazzled and fried to make friendly conversation. But there was one test day that gave me the opportunity to see beyond my own immediate anguish and see the world’s suffering.

After enduring a demoralizing test, I was standing among the other teenage live stock in the hallway waiting for an elevator. I was becoming impatient when I noticed a poster taped above one of the sluggish elevators. I squinted to read the faint handwriting. The poster read, “Some women are condemned from birth to be nothing.” That was it. It had no organization name or signature. This message that was written sloppily across a plain white poster board brought my shallow teenage existence to an abrupt end. From that moment on, I knew my life could never be the same.

I believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. I believe that with great power comes great responsibility, and that I am my sisters’ keeper. I have been most fortunate in my life, having a Catholic education all the way through high school, living in a comfortable home and having supportive people in my life who constantly reinforce the belief that I can achieve anything. I believe that I have the power to change that poster’s message.

I believe that no woman should have to settle for being sub-human. No woman should be neglected, abused, or raped because society supports this intolerance. I believe all women should be given a voice, an education, and a right to make their own choices. Women don’t need to change; it is the world’s reception of women that needs to change. I believe that one person can make a difference. I am one of those blessed people who will make that difference.

I believe in the power of one. I believe in the impact of choices. I believe in the strength of faith. I believe change is not only a possibility, but a reality. This I believe.