During the summer of 1997 I received a full tuition Gates Leadership Scholarship to attend Colorado Outward Bound School’s “30-day Alpine Mountaineering Course”. This was definitely the most influential and moving experience of my life. For an entire month, our class traveled by foot through the most rugged part of the Rocky Mountain Range (San Juan Mountains - Weminuche Wilderness). We lived above tree line between 11,000 and 14,000 feet for the entire month traveling many miles each day. On this journey I had the opportunity to participate in rock climbing, a 185 foot repel, a technical ascent of a 13,700 foot peak (Storm King), a technical ascent of a snow couloir (North Eolus), and the summating of a 14,037 foot peak (Red Cloud) at 4:00 A.M. under a full moon and clear skies. Gazing at heavenly bodies moving through the night sky creates an intense desire to learn more about that which we do not understand.

The Outward Bound School, which originated in England, strives to build leadership skills among a team of students repeatedly faced with physical and mental challenges that may at first seem incredibly overwhelming. Putting a team of young adults on the side of a 14,000-foot mountain can create some extreme reactions. Several times during each day we found ourselves in a position such that a mistake or fall would surely result in death. All eight members of a patrol are required to take the same path together as one unit, but eight people have eight different ideas of the safest, easiest, and most rewarding route between points A and B. When students must all agree on one solution of such importance, disagreements and aggressive disputes are common. The school builds leadership skills and determination among all of its students by making it necessary that they work together cooperatively to accomplish goals.

Application for Gates Leadership Scholarship
Statement about leadership and significant quote:

I feel that leadership is not a goal that is achieved but rather is a recognition of honor that is earned. While there are people that look up to me for leadership and guidance, there are also people whom I respect for the education and direction they have provided. What I did was always done to the best of my ability, and not because someone was watching over my shoulder. I take pride in all of my accomplishments from major ones such as twelfth place in the National Amateur Championship Triathlon to minor ones like completing a swimming workout or neatly preparing daily class assignments. Never flaunting my good fortune and being known as a hard worker has made me respected among my peers. I began to realize how others perceived me when many underclassmen as well as peers came to me for advice, both athletic and academic. At the end of my junior year of high school my coach selected me from 50 plus athletes to be the team captain of our swim team during the following season. The coach also chose me to attend the district "leadership retreat" at which each team was represented by two athletes. The guest speakers, discussions, and activities of this weekend retreat was what first made me realize that I was being recognized as a leader. Many people strive to be "the best" strictly through appearance and are concerned about looking good in the "spotlight," but I believe that most of the true leaders lead quietly by example. Although we all have our faults, I attempt to always set a reputable example through my actions. I have always tried to hold myself to high standards instead of comparing myself to others. I feel that the standard that I have applied to my life and the example that I have set forth is deserving of special recognition.

There was one quote that made a big impression on me and which I will always remember. Although this quote is not directly related to leadership, following it will set one of the best examples of leadership.

It was 7:30 AM on Monday morning, our swim team had been in the weight room since 6:00 AM, and it was still three months untill the start of the season. Our new coach Jim Caliendo, was highly respected; he had won the state meet for the last four years in a row when he coached Fenwick's team. Now he was our coach and we eagerly listened to every word he said. This morning he pulled us aside to speak to us, and one of his statements made such a deep impression that I will never forget it. He said "You will come back here tomorrow and when you return you will not do exactly as you did today. You might do a little worse than you did today and you might do a little better than you did today. You have the power to choose whether you will do a little worse or a little better. Success does not come overnight; it comes as many small steps toward the unattainable goal of perfection. I hope that you choose to take your step in the upward direction." His speech was meant relative to how hard we push ourselves in our daily swimming workouts, but I have tried to apply this philosophy in everything I do. Whether I am playing a game, competing in a sport, taking a test, or just taking notes in class, I always look for ways to improve what I do.