This is the year. This is the year my friends and I choose colleges, select majors, and are endlessly asked, “What do you want to do? What do you want to be?”

As I watch students around me struggle to choose a school and a single goal to focus on for the next four years, I begin to feel grateful. I know with certainty where I want to go, what I want to study, and what I want to do after college (or at least where I want to start).

I am passionate about passion. I believe in the power of passion and I believe in each individual’s capability of finding that burning fire within. I want teachers and schools to help our children look inward and discover the benefits of passion.

I want fewer standardized tests for our children. I want less persuasion to “… just do what you’re told.” I want less emphasis on making a lot of money. I want more opportunities for exploration and learning … and most of all, to truly find our passions.

I am lucky. I have been directly involved with what I want to do since I was a child. As a student attending public schools, I have had the opportunity to discover flaws in the very system I want to improve. In my life, I have been surrounded with experiences that have led me to my passion. But what about those whose interests aren’t staring them in the face every day? I believe in an education system that provides all children and adolescents the opportunity to discover what makes them want to get out of bed each morning for the rest of their life.

Passion is what makes getting out of bed at 6 a.m. not so bad. Passion is what drives people to work hard, to discover, to succeed, and to accomplish. I believe in passion that extends to relationships, to hobbies, and to the words we speak. I believe that having things to cling to with passion is what makes life so beautiful.

This I truly believe.

Madisen MacDonald graduated from Pioneer High School, San Jose, CA in June of this year and will be going to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the fall to study Child Development.

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