EXPLORE - Traveling has allowed me to explore very interesting places where I was able to learn about different people and natural habitats. As a middle school student I would hop on my bike after school (once my homework was completed of course) and explore the outskirts of my small neighborhood. It seemed that around every corner there was something at least different enough from my street to appreciate and study. I still enjoy learning from new places and new people. I especially enjoy going on nature hikes with my two kids and teaching them to appreciate the natural world. CREATE - As a student I enjoyed creating art and wood crafts. In eighth grade, I made a wooden race car in my woodshop class. The cars were powered by small rear mounted CO2 tanks and we had the liberty of designing them however we wanted. I was proud to have my car race in the class competition even though it did not win. Today, I enjoy gardening and creating new ways to keep the local wildlife from harvesting my modest crops. ACHIEVE - In eighth grade, my language arts teacher in Puerto Rico challenged me to read and report on a novel several hundred pages long. The most challenging part to the assignment was that the novel was in Spanish and my report would have to be written in Spanish as well. I was still re-adjusting to reading in Spanish after having spent 5 years in New Jersey. I felt very accomplished after completing the assignment which took me many weeks. The experience taught me to believe in myself and to not quit when the work gets tough. At the end of the school year I thanked my teacher for the difficult assignment.