The path that led me here took an important turn one seemingly ordinary day in high school. I sat in class as my 10th grade history teacher continued our unit on World War II. On this day, he split the class into small groups and told us that we would be taking the perspective of the various countries that were involved in World War II in a debate. As he distributed the names of countries, each group hoped to open its paper and see America?written in bold letters. When our group received the folded slip, we opened it and read it with dismay: Japan. Thinking we were sure to lose the debate, we settled down to prepare our explanation for attacking Pearl Harbor. After a few minutes, I realized that I was coming up with logical reasons for this attack, and was shocked that it was possible to think this way. I found myself able to understand an action that I had believed impossible to justify. Though I still believed that the attack was wrong, I understood that there was another side to the issue, and that there was a reason behind the actions of this side.
From this experience arose a desire to enter the field of foreign policy. I wanted to develop and use my ability to understand the logic of other nations?choices and, by doing so, to help our country relate to those nations. I decided to study the philosophies behind international politics and to develop my own theories in that area. Eager to start on this career path, I joined the student government to experience the workings of politics on a small scale. While I served as class representative my junior year, and the school vice president my senior year, I succeeded in resolving issues through my ability to take another's perspective.
My experience in student government fueled my desire to study politics. I opted to take Advanced Placement European History my senior year, and learned to analyze the past as a way of predicting outcomes in the future. As I prepared for college, I sought a program that would allow me to work with some of the best professors in the field and that would offer opportunities to work in government offices, become involved with student government, and join campus political groups. I chose [name of college].
At [Name of college], I excelled in my courses, driven by my passion for political theory and policy. I became involved in the student government, and was proud to represent my school as the student council president. Working with my one of my professors over the summer, I co-authored and published an article on the foreign policy changes in post-World War II Japan. Through our gracious alumni, I was given the chance to work as an intern on Capitol Hill, where my knowledge of foreign policy was supplement by hands-on experience.
Standing here today, I am thankful for all the opportunities, support, and knowledge that allowed me to travel this path. I look forward to my career and to success in my chosen field as I continue to travel. Looking back, I know that I possess the qualities of determination, strength and understanding. These qualities, in combination with my experiences, will allow me to bring positive change to the world through my work. I encourage you, my classmates, to look back with pride upon the path that has led you here, and to use your individual strengths and experiences to better the world that has offered us so many opportunities.