Disclaimer: this is another piece I used for a scholarship essay.
I have been very fortunate to have an education full of many different people who have impacted my career path - without any one of them, my education would look very different. When I was homeschooled, there was a particular history curriculum that captured my imagination. The author was Professor Susan Wise Bauer of the College of William and Mary. She designed a history book curriculum for middle school-aged children that read as though it were an adventure story full of exciting characters from around the world. These stories gripped my imagination and kept my attention. I loved the unit on the American Revolution, especially because my own ancestor Peter Slater was involved in the Boston Tea Party. This helped me connect my own family history to the larger picture of world history.
Everything was covered - Indian dynasties, African empires before colonization, Simón Bolívar playing tennis with the prince...every continent and people group were touched. I was especially interested in the unit on the French Revolution and Napoleon, a unit that encompassed many complex stories and events amidst an intense political drama. I enjoyed reading about the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" and about the urge to create a democracy with liberty, equality, and fraternity. The French Revolution had a captivating cast of complex characters, from Marie Antoinette to Robespierre to Napoleon, without whom the story would not have been the same. These lives all intertwined in a storybook manner but were part of the real story of human history. These stories stuck with me as not only stories from a history book, but as stories that tell so much about humanity and the world today.
The highlight of my school day was when my mom would read these stories out loud to me, and I pictured exciting characters from every continent and country. Later, I would read up on the countries the various historical characters came from. Whether it was the story of a liberator pledging his life to end oppression or a group of women marching on Versailles to demand bread from an out-of-touch monarchy, every history story held a place in my heart and pushed me to learn more about history and, in particular, political history. Politics, history, and international relations are all closely tied together. These stories encompassed not only the historical facts but also the relations between countries and the political dramas that awaited characters. They taught me to look at the full picture when reading about international relations. I learned to look not only at the surface-level facts that we read in the news but also deeper into the history of the nation and the politics. These books encouraged me to learn more about the stories and the cultures these stories took place in.
I participated actively in the National Geography Bee. My parents brought me to the library every week, and I always picked out a new book about a new country. I memorized all of the countries of the world by the age of nine, as well as their national anthems, flags, and capitals. There was nothing more exciting and gripping to my imagination then meeting somebody from a new culture. I'm so thankful to have had that love instilled in me from a young age.
The other educator who had a strong impact on me was Professor Gai Ferdon at Liberty University. I visited one of her classes the weekend I visited Liberty as a prospective student. It was an upper-level government class and not one that prospective students usually participated in. She immediately drew me into the class discussion. She challenged me with interesting ideas and discussed political theory books in depth. I read John C. Calhoun's and Henry Clay's writings in high school and had a copy with me. She discussed the book and explained the different philosophers she believed influenced each man. I had such a wonderful discussion with her, and I could not wait to attend Liberty and enroll in her classes.
During my first semester, my first class of the day was Dr. Ferdon's government class. Every day felt like an adventure learning about all the famous political philosophers and linking how their philosophy works in the real world. Dr. Ferdon always encouraged us to be challenged and to read all we can, including the works of those we disagree with. She helped instill in us the values of being a true scholar, and I shall keep these values forever. I wrote down every book she recommended, and to this day, I get my hands on all that I can to learn more about the deeper philosophies and cultural trends that influence the world, just as the "Story of the World" books taught me the most important part of politics - that it is tied together with history and international relations and cannot stand alone.