"I only had one class with Tom, but his soapbox mad..."

UNC at Chapel Hill

Describe a peer you see as a community builder. What actions has that peer taken? How has their work made a difference in your life?

200 - 250 words

(UNC at Chapel Hill)

I only had one class with Tom, but his soapbox made an appearance almost every day. In every class conversation, he would always have a strong opinion that he would vocalize with no fear of judgment. It astonished me. Though I poured much time into developing my own opinions, I had nowhere near the confidence he had to throw them around freely. I doubted if they could hold up to questioning, and if not, how I would be perceived.

As the year progressed, I was validated in that not all of his opinion stood up to scrutiny. However, I also realized that the only way to amend my own ideas was to put them on the line. The only way to withstand discord was to engage in it. And when coupled with my growing dedication to understanding others’ beliefs, I not only reflected on my own, but shared them, so others could internalize mine. Since then, I consistently draw on his intellectual confidence and the tempered thoughtfulness I have always possessed, to strike a balance between dialogue and introspection. Not until he came along had I realized the absolute importance of sharing imperfect ideas. As I have grown to recognize, my engagement in intellectual discourse not only works to refine my views but also works to constructively challenge those of others, fostering a mutually beneficial discussion, which though occasionally contentious, is always underpinned by tact and respect.

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