Winning Essay by Alexia T. from Kentucky attending University of Louisville

It's generally acknowledged that character – not high tests scores, attractiveness, or fortune – account for life satisfaction. Educational goals of developing intelligence are apprehensible and their outcomes can be measured. However, character strengths were less defined and not as measurable. Martin Luther King Jr. understood why character counts most. During a speech at Morehouse College in 1948, he said, "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education."

When I reflect on King's statement, I think of my closest peers and the people I respect the most. They captivate me by forces far beyond intellect and social success. I admire the values they hold, their character strengths, and how they treat me as my own person. When I think of education in the broad sense of the word, it's important to consider how young adults develop character during adolescence that determines the kind of adults they become. Personally, when I step onto my anticipated college's campus to begin my journey, I want to evolve not only my knowledge but my person. I will expand my horizons to find appreciation of beauty and excellence, appreciating internal beauty, black excellence, and skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday life experiences. I will obtain qualities such as hope, optimism, and future-mindedness to expect the best in the future all while working and dedicating time to achieve it. I'm a firm believer that the future is something one can control along with guidance from the Lord. Currently, being an active student both in and out of school, I look to maintain that stamina whilst continuing my education onto college. While attending, I also have personal goals to strengthen the qualities I already possess such as: creativity, ingenuity, and originality – thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who I am.

It's important to remember that intelligence is not enough. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy life objectives to concentrate on. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to accumulated knowledge and greater experience of social living. Someone with moral character sets the standard for excellence, teaching others salient life lessons through words as well as actions. Someone with moral character lives a life he/she can be proud of. One is driven to make a positive impact and do right by others instead of impressing with profligacy. This will be my contribution, to be a modern example of what Dr. King's quote stood for. I will exhibit this through my driven mindset, uplifting vernacular, carrying myself with grace while supporting other young scholars, progressing to the collective aspiration of success.


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