Daniel - Morris Plains, New Jersey
Entered on September 7, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Crouching in a muddy foxhole, a young American soldier named Howard Smith lost his life during the Korean War. His young wife, Philomena, found herself widowed and she would soon enter into a troubled second marriage to a cheating husband. Though she suffered, her second marriage led to the birth of my father and thus my own birth was made possible. A tragedy for one man became positives for others. I believe that life depends on a balance of fortune because I myself am the product of this philosophy in action. Balance can be found in the college student who struggles with their first major, only to find that their true calling lies in another field. It is visible in the employee that was laid off on September 10th, 2001 and therefore did not have to report for work in the Twin Towers on the 11th. Just as energy cannot be created or destroyed, one man’s fortune must be another man’s loss. While it is often hard to see the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” when we experience loss or when we come up short, all negative situations can be turned into positive ones if we learn something from the experience. As a freshman in high school, I desperately wanted to play high school football. I ran two miles every morning and practically took up residence in my school’s weight room for weeks. When the final cuts were made, I just wasn’t tall enough to meet the needs of the team. I was bitter and I was certainly angry. However, because I couldn’t play I began covering the team for my school paper. My passion for sports journalism began to grow and by my sophomore year I had become a professional writer, covering the New York Football Giants for a prominent New Jersey paper. Today I stand before you very grateful that I did not make the cut. I consider myself blessed to have discovered my true calling at such an early age and I treasure the experiences that it has allowed me. For the record, the player who beat me out for the roster spot excelled as a defensive player and is now receiving a free college education because of his football skill. I believe that every experience makes me a better person and even if it may be hard to accept at times, we as humans cannot grow without a balance of positive and negative experiences.