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Small School Blues; Big School Hopes

Small School Blues; Big School Hopes

by Jack Reiss


Prompt: Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve. You can type directly into the box, or you can paste text from another source. (250-650 words)

The addiction takes over at exactly 9:30 A.M. on business days. I hold my breath to see what phases the stock market. Could Pfizer skyrocket over 50 percent because of news for a groundbreaking cancer drug? Could McDonald’s dip 50 percent because of higher than expected trans fat in Big Macs? Or will it be a day like the one last March when Isoray, a cancer treatment stock I own, jumped more than 100 percent? The convergence of my interests in stocks, statistics, history and agriculture has influenced my decision to transfer to a school where I can strongly pursue these subjects, and also experience a broader, more developed and inspired social scene.

The stock market habit began a year ago, triggered by my love affair with my high school Elementary Statistics class and after my dad handed over control of my custodial portfolio. Don’t get the wrong idea, it’s chump change. But now I view stocks as closely as I watch baseball – which is pretty close – or a plant I grow from seed to flower.

I have fully engaged my interests at Trinity. My home at Trinity is the investment club where I am in the midst of preparing for a presentation on risk in health care company stocks. I want to build on experiences like this at a place with more opportunities and a more diverse population of students with similar passions or other intellectual interests that I have yet to explore. At Trinity, my grades are good and I look forward to my classes. However, I seek a university with a larger number of students who want to work and expand intellectually.

A broader social environment with stronger extracurriculars drives my search for a compatible school.  At Trinity, I attempted to join a whiffle ball intramural team, but there were not enough students to sign up so the club was cancelled. This one example indicates some of the limitations of a school with 2000 students. My hope is for a larger university with a more intellectually ambitious student body and activities and organizations that reflect that population.

I seek transferring to a school that offers inspired ways to explore

my interests and discover new ones. For years, I found many ways to engage my passion for botany. While serving as an intern horticulturist at the Central Park Conservancy in high school, I began to consider horticulture in the context of investing and the future. I lean towards companies that are committed to promoting health initiatives centered on organic foods, nutrition, and sustainability. Now that I manage my small stock portfolio, I conduct research companies like Whitewave, a pioneer health food conglomerate; it was the first company I chose to invest in and fits my criteria by intersecting agricultural, health food, and finance interests; plus it pays dividends!

My interest in statistics has helped fuel my fascination with stocks and their associated statistical models, especially volatile stocks with their sporadic graphs and possible inferences from them. I desire studying the market in ways that are connected to my academic work, including researching models for looking at the stock market as a way of creating communities through the identification of companies with interests that unite shareholders beyond profit margins. As part of this goal, I am in the process of obtaining Bloomberg certification through use of the Bloomberg Terminal system, which will be an asset to investing and complement my academic research. The certification will also expose me to information beyond the stock market. It will be a tool for exploring other subjects like history and a barometer for exploring the world’s markets and their resulting implications. I am excited by the opportunity of taking this certification into a new academic environment. It is just one of many possibilities that inspire me to transfer to a larger school.

Jack Reiss, a 2014 graduate of The Browning School, is now sophomore at NYU.

The Pains of a Basketball Addiction

The Pains of a Basketball Addiction

by Jordan Adams

2014-05-16-1500793_10151762976206750_758397142_oMy fingers are not shaped for basketball and my knees struggle to withstand a full season. Yet many young athletes run onto fields and courts even though our bodies urge us to stop. Many of us are oblivious to research that suggests the possibility of an unhealthy future if we succeed in the sport professionally. What promising high school quarterback would drop his NFL dreams because research shows that he could be at a higher risk for dementia later in life if these very dreams were to come true? The threat of dementia discourages him from playing as much as warnings of lung cancer convince a teenage smoker to quit. Youth blinds us to the negative consequences of many passions and pleasures. I know from experience. I have been forced to think about the bodily impact of my passion for sports earlier than many other young athletes. But I refuse to abandon basketball.

Before basketball, there was my first love: hockey. From age six, I was known for my hockey skills throughout my hometown of Larchmont. Then came the Great Blackout, which would become my mother’s ammunition to force me to divorce the rough sport she never loved. I was ten years old. On the ice, my Tigers were winning. The coach of the opposing team saw me as the nightmare player. As I was racing the puck toward the goal yet again, he yelled to his players: “Get the Black Kid.”

They followed their coach’s orders. The next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital. I still see the product of their enthusiasm today–two permanently damaged fingers.

Despite the new and awkward shape of my fingers, I fell in love with basketball. I worked harder because of the difficulty my fingers had getting around the ball. By freshman year of high school, I was good enough to play on the varsity team.

Two years later, my knees were always in pain after basketball practices and games. I ignored the pain until I could no longer sit in a chair normally for more than 20 minutes without my knees starting to burn. I began icing my knees before every game to keep playing. The weekend after the season ended, I was playing with my dad. I tried to dunk and ended up on the ground with my arms wrapped around my knees throbbing in pain. My father demanded that I go to the hospital.

“You’re going to need surgery,” the doctor said. He recommended a procedure that involved cutting open both knees. I refused. A week later, he suggested a new, less aggressive procedure involving plasma injections. I agreed. This required an MRI. My mind raced with fear and questions while I was stuffed into a small tunnel of the machine for what seemed like hours.

Afterwards the doctor showed me the results: two giant black stars in the middle of a white sea. The stars were rips in the tendons in my knees. Before I had time to react, a nurse walked in to perform the prep work for the plasma injections. She attempted to take blood from my left arm but collapsed a vain on her first try. The third attempt was the charm. I remember seeing my blood, a very deep red, go into an oddly shaped machine. It came out as a sunny yellow substance. The liquid was loaded into two of the largest needles I had ever seen.

Once the first needle reached my skin, I felt a pinch. Then the needle became very hot as it went deeper and deeper into my knee. The doctor moved the needle around, searching for the black stars. He located them and somehow managed to squeeze every last drop of the substance inside. My whole leg erupted in a pain that felt like I had been stabbed with a searing hot ice pick dipped in lava. I remember hoping that I would black out from all of the pain–like I did when I was a ten year old at my last hockey game.

Ten months later, I am preparing for my senior season but I still remember every detail of the procedure. Those details do not scare me away from the court. Does this make basketball my drug–something self destructive that I crave regardless of the consequences? On the surface, my attachment may appear to control me like nicotine drives some people to continue lighting up. But in reality, basketball has imparted lessons in resilience that cigarettes or any other chemical addiction do not impart. I know my days on the court will not be as long as my life. The lessons gained from pursuing a sport that did not suit my damaged fingers will be ingrained in me forever.

Jordan Adams will graduate from Trinity College on Sunday and is a 2010 graduate of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.

Influences that Last

Influences that Last

by Stephan Morse

560088_10151455248365557_1291777169_nI have a sister who is bubbly and energetic, parents who are both supportive and caring, but one of the two people who has influenced me the most hates my guts.

The first day of 5th grade: I sit on a rock wall and watch my mother’s silver Volvo slowly drive away feeling isolated and alone. I entered my first school assembly in a room filled with 500 boys, but every face is a stranger. The assembly ends. I reach for my bag but hesitate because a boy is choking. Then I realize what is coming and yank my bag. A new sixth grader, the choking boy vomits over 3 or 4 bags and an empty space where my bag would have been. My first day at a private school begins while I dream of returning to my old public school.

Soon the new kid fog fades and I still do not have friends. Then I meet John, a fellow 5th grade outcast. Our friendship grew and we became best friends. But when 7th grade football begins, things fall apart. Football formed a new clique and John influences me to join. “Soccer is Gay,” he says, knowing that I play soccer. “Football gets all the respect.”

Our friendship became more of a competition even though we are on the same team. He and I are in a guerilla war, instigated by his constant insults. My clothes, shoes, video games, footballs, anything I possess did not measure up to his–even my future: “I am going to be 6’2”, 195lbs, perfect stature, you will always be short and 5’2” for the rest of your life.”

I became the butt of his jokes, all of which touch the American Social Construct. “You are the least black, black person ever.” He and my other football “friends” expected that I would have extreme athletic ability and were disappointed when my 5 foot, 100 pound frame did not produce the results they wanted from a black “friend.”

I was simply too “white” to be black. I am not athletic enough, do not wear baggy clothes, but worst of all I can’t rap. I am doomed to being a “white boy.” John would offer me tips on how to be “black” from what he saw on television or the Internet. I spent three years trying to please John before I grew up, and returned to soccer. John hated my newfound independence and eventually, he hated me.

My exit from the football crowd compelled me to look deeply at my new identity. I like to play basketball, sing, and act. I study Chinese and Spanish. I am an environmentalist who enjoys classic rock, techno, not just rap music. All of these things make me who I am, not the color of my skin, or what boxes my ”friends” try to impose. There really isn’t such a thing as being black or white. I identify myself in a larger way, not by the labels of others that are tied to social constructs. I thank John for the experience of learning this lesson—though it came through a lot of angst.

Two summers ago, I met Jesus Russell, a Californian Latino artist who I roomed with at Choate Summer Programs. Jesus was the best roommate ever. We never fought. Our room was always clean and he was funny. When he told me he was gay, I was completely shocked because the thought had never crossed my mind. My stereotypes for gay people did not fit him. But why did I even have expectations of his behavior?  Why did I have a new fear of awkward moments if I changed clothes in the room or come into the room wearing only a towel?  I initially imposed a “Gay” box on Jesus, following a pattern like John—until I caught myself.  I discovered my own ignorance because I confronted John’s black box. As classes progressed, I realized Jesus being gay did not change anything. Before he told me, I had not noticed anything that I thought was a “Gay” characteristic.  In retrospect, Jesus’ coming out to me made us better roommates because he trusted me and shared his secret. Again I thank John, for I might have never identified my own limitations, had I not been a victim of the thinking that I temporarily imposed on the best roommate I ever had. Perhaps if other people survived an exit from friendships with people like John or experienced roommates like Jesus, tolerance would truly be all American.

Stephan Morse, a 2011 graduate of The Brunswick School in Greenwich, CT, received his B.A. in Political Science from Trinity College on Sunday.