I was born on December 16, 1988, completing my family of five.
I have one sister and one half-brother.
Growing up in a small town, I had a lot of opportunity to learn and
develop my creativity outside the classroom.
From the beginning of my schooling all the way through my senior year I
have maintained good grades. These
grades have led me to be someone my friends and peers have come to for help, and
being eager and able to help them learn is one quality that will help me to be
an excellent teacher in the future.
My family, friends, and experiences have been the sources of my joys and
struggles, and they have shaped me into the person I am today:
a person with the desire to influence the lives of others in a positive
way and to help them accomplish what will make them happy.
I was born on December 16, 1988, in Mishawaka, Indiana, to James and Jody De Neve. My arrival signaled the completion of our family, made up of five total members. Ahead of me were my parents, a half-brother named Andrew, and a sister named Holly. My brother, from my mother’s previous marriage, was already twelve years old. I would later find out how great of a brother he really is. My sister was two-and-a-half years old, and although it has taken me longer to admit it, she is also an excellent sister and an excellent example to follow as I grow up. Throughout my childhood I was very blessed and very happy. I did well in school and I enjoyed learning both in the classroom and at home. My parents have always encouraged my siblings and me to be curious, to read and write for fun, and to be creative. Living in a small town I was afforded much more freedom and many more opportunities to explore my surroundings than many children in other environments might be. With my best friends I spent my days outside making up games and climbing trees, two things that in my opinion are essential to a successful childhood. Like my childhood, my adolescent and adult years have been blessed and happy. My joys are many and my struggles and disappointments are few. Throughout junior high and high school I continued to do well in school while maintaining a fulfilling social life and home life. My time here at Manchester has in many ways mirrored my previous experiences, but it has also held some challenges, most of which I have resolved and grown from and some that I am continuing to deal with today.
One challenge that I am still working to resolve started before I was even born: procrastination. That problem has been with me since December 12, 1988, the day I was supposed to be born. I guess I decided to just put that off for a little while, much to my mother’s dismay. Four extra days may not seem very important to most people, but when my mom was expecting me to come a couple weeks early like my sister had, those four days seemed like a lifetime. I eventually did decide to enter the world, all nine pounds and three ounces of me. I am sure my mom was not very happy about that part, either.
If my mom was not exactly pleased with my birth, she was not alone. I am sure my brother shared her displeasure during my first few years. He was often stuck in charge of babysitting duty when, as a teenager, I am sure he would have rather been out with his friends. Andrew bore it all very well, though, and he was a great big brother for my sister and me. Those extra years between us gave us a slightly different bond than many brothers and sisters have. We did not experience the abuse - the teasing and pushing around - that most little sisters go through. Instead, we had an idol, an awe-inspiring, mature, clever protector, someone who knew everything and could do anything. In our young minds he had all the good qualities of a parent, but without the punishments. One of the smaller joys of my life was, as a child, sitting with my brother and just watching him do whatever it was that he happened to be doing, from playing videogames to painting to reading. In spite of all the benefits of the age difference between us, it is also the source of one of my small disappointments. Being twelve years older than me, Andrew left for college the same year I started kindergarten. By the time I was in third grade he had moved to Minnesota, where he now lives with his wife Denise. He comes home about twice a year, but I regret that we have not been able to maintain a closer relationship.
My sister’s feelings on my arrival were mixed. On one hand I gave her someone to play with, but on the other hand I stole her spotlight. As we grew up, we went through our share - or maybe more than our share - of arguments and rivalry, but this side of our relationship is waning, and since high school we have begun to develop the more caring side of the bond shared between sisters. For longer than I have been able to recognize it, Holly has had a huge influence on my life. Every once in a while, as much as I may hate to admit it, I sort of wonder what other people do who do not have a big sister like I do. Any problem I have I can take to her for advice. All the milestones that I have gone through she has gone through first, and she has warned me of what to expect at each one. Not only do I know what to expect because of Holly, but others know what to expect of me. Having an older sister, especially a smart and extremely motivated one who looks almost identical to you, go through the school system before you tends to leave teachers with an impression and an expectation of what kind of student you will be. They already know that I will be intelligent and studious before I ever say a word or turn in an assignment.
Although this has seemingly endless benefits, it also has its drawbacks - the least of which is being called by the wrong name at least once a day. I struggled throughout my high school years to get out from under my sister’s shadow, and when it came time to choose a college I thought the last thing I would do was go to the same place as she did. I felt that I needed to be somewhere no one would already recognize me because of my sister, where I would have to form teachers’ opinions of me completely on my own, where I would have to make my own way and figure things out entirely for myself. But, as my choices narrowed and I began to feel the pressure of making a decision, Manchester College was still in the running. It was a place where I felt comfortable, whether because I had visited my sister here frequently or just because it was a good fit for me. I was also attracted to the school’s size and academic programs. At that time I was planning on being a biology major, and the brand new science building was very exciting. Aside from the science program I knew Manchester had an excellent teacher education program, and my sister’s friend (an art major) had told me how much she loved the art professors. I finally made my decision to come to Manchester when I realized that maybe following my sister’s shadow could be a good thing. At another school I know I would be motivated to do well on my own, to make sure professors remembered me as an excellent student and a valuable person, but following my sister gives me an extra push. I have to do even better here than I might at another school, not only to live up to the expectations that have been set but also to force professors to remember me, too, and not just my sister. Making this realization and turning a possibly negative situation into something positive has been one of the major victories of my life.
Another of my major victories was graduating in the top ten students of my class. Out of around two-hundred and fifty students in my class, I was number six with a GPA slightly above 4.0. I set this goal for myself during my freshman year, but I have strived to be a top student since elementary school. Since the time when we started getting letter grades I have not gotten below a B, and I remember in fifth grade developing a frustration with B’s. It came from knowing I was so close to an A, but I just was not quite there. A portion of this drive for academic perfection springs from a competitiveness that existed between me and my best friend Sarah. I met Sarah in second grade and we quickly became inseparable. We were competitive in just about everything, except the most obvious: sports. When it came to this area Sarah was far my superior. Despite this, we found ways to challenge each other in almost anything else. I remember one occasion when we brushed our teeth for an hour straight. Neither of us said a word about it being a competition, but we both knew and we both refused to give in. I do not remember how that one ended. Our competitiveness showed up in many different areas of our lives, but our biggest competition was always academic. With this motivation added to my natural drive to succeed, I consistently got straight-A’s all through elementary and junior high school. By the time Sarah moved away in eighth grade I was no longer dependent on her competition for success. I continued on into high school and earned the same caliber grades as I always had.
My academic success led to various opportunities to tutor other students, as well as being someone my friends came to for occasional help. In these positions, I always pushed myself to find some way to help, often a new way of explaining the topic so that the person would understand. I have always felt very rewarded from these situations when I am finally able to help that person, and it is this quality about myself that I think is most important in being a teacher, an ability and eagerness to help people learn.
My family, friends, and experiences are what have shaped me into who I am, a person I am proud to be. I have been blessed not only with a wonderful life, but also with certain abilities that I hope to use to benefit others. Through many different experiences and interactions with people I have finally found who I am and what makes me happy. My goal is to be a similar influence in the lives of other people, to encourage them to find where they need to be and to help them get there.