2004 Scholarship Winners

Kyle Hansen, 6’5″, was awarded $1,000. He’s from Chico and went to Pleasant Valley High School. College he is going to attend: UC San Diego

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Kyle Hansen’s Essay: What Being Tall Means to Me

For as long as I can remember I’ve been the tallest kid around. In Elementary School I soared above my classmates, and on through Junior High and High School I’ve been at the top of my class, literally. Throughout the years I’ve answered a million “How tall are you?’”, “What’d your parents feed you?s” , and Can you reach that?s”. I’ve had my share of tall advantages and tall disadvantages and at 6’6”, the first thing people notice about me is my height. Although the tall trait is characterized by height, I believe it al so involves a special mental aspect.

As I grow older, being tall has become less of an attribute and more of a state of mind. As a tall person I don’t just look tall, I believe I also think tall. I pride myself in being a leader, and by height has helped people respect me and look up to me as one. I reach to the highest of my abilities in everything I involve myself in./ I’ve also set high goals for myself which I hope to achieve in the future. While the mental side of being tall has helped me, the physical side has given me a distinct advantage in many activities.

I believe my height is a gift that was given to me to be used to the best of my ability. It is because of this that I have engaged myself in a multitude of sports. During my high school career I’ve taken part in 4 years of basketball and volleyball and in college I will be playing volleyball for UC San Diego. Without my height coupled with my work ethic I probably wouldn’t have had these opportunities in athletics. I can’t imagine what a different person I would be if I weren’t blessed with my height. People often ask me, “Do you like being tall?”, to which I replay “I don’t like being tall, I love it”.

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Jessica Johnson’s Essay: What Being Tall Means to Me

What’s it like to be tall? I don’t believe the experience of being tall can be summed up in just a single sentence. It’s not just a once in a lifetime experience; it is a lifetime of experience.

As I have grown and matured my feelings towards my height have dramatically changed. When I was quite young and much shorter, I vividly remember going to the doctor’s office and being told I would grow to about 5’8”. As far as I was concerned, the doctor was completely mistaken; I was positive that I wanted to be and was going to be six-feet-tall. I was right; in sneakers I’m six-feet-tall and I have learned to look at being tall differently.

When you’re a child height can be a sign of prestige and maturity, a true symbol of having reached adulthood. Like any child, I was anxious to grow up and I viewed being tall as the clearest outward indication of being an adult. As a young teenage, however, I began to question the value of being tall. There is always something awkward about that stage in your life when you are taller than all the boys, and I was no longer sure I wanted to be noticed due to my height. In fact, most of the time I yearned for that elusive and highly overrated concept of conformity. When I went to dances or special events I’d prefer to wear short clunky clogs instead of high heels. I thought that being tall would make me stand out in a bad way, and that my flaws would be much more obvious to those around me.

Fortunately, I eventually began to accept and even appreciate my height. Besides the simple practical advantages, such as always being able to reach things on the top shelf and seeing over people in movie theatres, I have found many more unexpected bonuses in my height. I know individuals may more easily notice me, but when I have their attention I decide what to do with it. When working with children, or even peers, it seems easier to commandeer an initial sense of respect due to my height, but I realize it is my job to keep that regard through my actions. When I volunteered as a teacher’s aid with young elementary students, I felt they treated me as an adult because of my height even though I was only a junior in high school. Similarly, when working as a teacher’s assistant with peers I felt that I was more easily trusted and listened to due to my height, and in some ways even treated as an actual teacher despite the close proximity of our ages. In both cases I felt that it was my responsibility to uphold their positive view of me by living up to the expectations which my height had produced. In one sense being tall is a gift; you tend to stand out from the crowd. However, it is up to the individual to keep the respect of others and to merit the extra attention that their height may give them.

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