By Taylor Larsen
Mattituck High School
2018 Anne Mackay Scholarship winner Taylor Larsen
Dr. Seuss once said “A person’s a person, no matter how small”. My name is Taylor Larsen I am five feet tall and I want to change people’s lives. Most people say they want to change the world, but I say I want to change people’s lives because by changing a life I would be changing an individual’s world, and many times our so called little worlds can change the universe.
The first time l ever proved somebody wrong was when I was born. You see I was born with a hole in my heart fairly larger than a dime, and for a newborn baby that’s a pretty large hole. The doctors had to perform open heart surgery on me when I was six months old and I had an estimated fifty, fifty chance of living. But here I am seventeen years later not only surviving but thriving. However, that wasn’t my only challenge, but the first of many. After coming home from open heart surgery my family and I arrived to my father on the front steps with all his bags packed and his explanation of why he shouldn’t have been a father. But it’s okay he had challenges of his own. His only son, my brother having autism and l guess me having a heart condition kind of pushed him over the edge. Long story short he was my second mission to prove somebody wrong. Believe it or not I did but I’ll get to that later.
He came home a little while after that and we started to bond through sports. My brother and I would go over his house every other weekend and have a catch in the backyard, play golf, or go to the batting cages. We then discovered that I was particularly good at softball so he signed me up for little league. Mind you I was 5 or 6 at the time and I was so tiny that the extra small uniform fit me like a dress. I still remember my first coach Fred Ligon. He called me his lion because I was the smallest on the team and I had the most physical challenges out of anyone in the league. But I was not his lion because I was good. I was his lion because I put all my heart into bettering myself everyday to keep up with the girls on my team. Let’s just say cardio was not my strong suit (still isn’t). After growing out of little league when l was twelve years old they had an all star team you could try out for. I remember my Uncle telling me I wasn’t gonna make it because I “couldn’t play sports” my response; “Watch me”. I made the all star team 4 years in a row and the world series team after that. In 2012 my teammates and I won Long Island District 36. My father doubted his ability to be a dad, but l succeeded in proving him wrong because if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have had the amount of motivation to never give up when life threw me curve balls. Mission complete.
After growing out of little league I tried playing at my school district but it just wasn’t the same. I had a lot of trouble focusing on my education when I was in elementary school. I go to Mattituck High School where every grade is made up of about 120 kids or less. Like everyone in school I wanted to fit in and be accepted. I was so focused on chasing after “friends” that wanted nothing to do with me rather than pursuing my academics. It got to the point where they had to put me into intense special education classes. When I entered the seventh grade I had all 4 core classes in one room. Those four periods I would lock eyes with some of my classmates while they walked to their next class. The expressions they had on their faces told me exactly what they were thinking of me. It was like I was stranded on an island with a thousand rescue boats racing past me. But don’t get me wrong special education became my rescue boat. I went from failing all my classes to getting steady A’s. I know I’m no Einstein but if you were to tell 7th grade me that I was gonna have a 91 GPA and place 44 out of 117 in the class I wouldn’t have believed you. I proved myself wrong.
I plan on taking what I accumulated !from these experiences and bring them into a classroom setting myself. I know exactly what it’s like to struggle in school academically and socially. This is why l want to become a teacher. They say those who can’t do, teach but the)’ have taught those to do, Most people my age talk about how they want to make a lot of money because in certain peoples minds how large your bank account is defines how successful you are. I guess you could say I am not like most people because I will define my success based on what I will inspire others to do.
When I tell others my story I do not seek for sympathy but I seek for others to be mindful. Because doubt kills more dreams than failure, those who judge think they can define others when they have only defined themselves, and by those who have underestimated me they have made themselves less prepared for the difference I am going to make in the world.