Success in my Eyes by Devanshi

Devanshi's entry into Varsity Tutor's September 2020 scholarship contest

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Success in my Eyes by Devanshi - September 2020 Scholarship Essay

For a second, I almost stood up. The lady on stage had called us to receive the first-place trophy.

But instantly, that image in my mind crumbled. Churching, our long-time rival, had won.

For the last five months, my team of four had put in everything to prepare for the State Mathematics competition. Memorize trigonometric identities? Check. Solve every past question? Check. It was simple. Each one of us had our own strength, mine being probability, and assigned ourselves to those problems. With 30 minutes allotted for 20 questions, it was the best use of time. And it had worked, at least until our competition at State. We’d soared through Regionals, crushing every team in Lake County by a landslide.

But when we were returned our answers from State, we realized that each of us had missed a few of our problems—possibly due to increased pressure. The issue, however, wasn’t in our knowledge of concepts. It was in our strategy. We’d each left the others to fend for themselves, preventing any cross-checking of work, any collaboration.

As a senior member of our team, I took it upon myself to devise our gameplan. We all began to practice problems in each others’ strengths. We met at the library, and I assigned two members to cover a majority of the questions. The rest would be in charge of fewer problems and instead, double, even triple-checking everyone’s work.

By State next year, we’d each learned something new and were ready to fight Churching.

This experience defines success for me — the amalgamation of hard work, dedication, and teamwork. Even without a clear victory, my teammates and I worked towards a goal by following a structured plan. Our performance had already improved, and this portrayed to me our ability to chase mastery with our drive.

This is my biggest goal for the next year — to set realistic goals for myself and follow through a systematic plan to achieve them. To me, success isn't necessarily winning a competition or extrinsic rewards like money but instead realizing and using my intrinsic drive to accomplish a goal I am passionate about. I thrive in a goal-oriented setting, especially with the support of my peers. Learning from others, challenging myself and my teammates, and pursuing my passions describe success in my eyes.