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The American Dream

The American Dream

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Published by Dustin Cassell
Originally wrote this for a writing contest, where the reward was a scholarship. I did not get the scholarship, but it does detail my beginnings of college life.
Originally wrote this for a writing contest, where the reward was a scholarship. I did not get the scholarship, but it does detail my beginnings of college life.

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Published by: Dustin Cassell on Feb 14, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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 The American DreamDustin CassellMay 27, 2009
Many people wonder if the American dream still exists, and just as many do not know it's truemeaning. I'm 26 years old and I have worked in retail since high school. At the age of 23 Ibegan to further my education by enrolling at the Harrisburg Area Community College. Thereare many lessons I learned between high school and the beginning of my college journey.Although I rarely tell people about myself, and the how I came to be the person I am today,there comes a place and a time for everything. This is my story, my inspiration and realizationthat the American dream still exists.I was born and raised in the small town of Newport PA. Life was great out in the country, andalbeit I often complained about various chores like weeding the strawberry garden or clippingthe raspberry plants, for the most part I was happy. Even though my dad was deeply religious,he told me to question everything and that spirituality had to be experienced not memorizedverbatim from books. At the time I had no idea that my dad teaching me to questioneverything would be one of the greatest influences in my life. In fact, sometimes it would leadto great realizations, and other times I found myself as my dad would say “walking on thinice.”My mom died while I was in the third grade, which deeply traumatized my dad. Not long after the travesty I found myself enrolled in the private Judeo-Christian school Milton Hershey. Itwas a different experience, and being away from home was tough. Every Sunday at theschool we would dress in our Sunday best and head off to chapel service. As I hit my teenageyears, just as my dad had taught, I questioned everything and this lead to some great andepic debates with the various preachers at the school. There were just too many gaps inreligion and too many questions left unanswered. I needed something more, I needed toexperience and see for myself.Tired of constantly being in trouble because of my different religious views, my senior year Idropped out of Milton Hershey school and enrolled in a public school. After I graduated mybest friend from Milton Hershey school Giovanny Maria enlisted in the army. He was a verytalented artist, but later that year he and his girlfriend broke up. As tough as it already wasoverseas, he couldn't handle it and he committed suicide. If that did not make things badenough, my dad's cancer came back and within a matter of two or three weeks he died aswell. I was only 18, and was completely alone and lost.For the next five years I worked retail, unsure with what to do with my life. Then one day onthe radio, I heard a man named Michio Kaku talk about string theory. He stated that stringtheory could be the theory of everything. At the time I had no idea what a theory of everything
was, but it certainly sounded interesting and perhaps this all encompassing theory couldanswer some of my questions. I later found out Michio Kaku was a physicist, and that he hadwritten a number of popular science books. The first book I ever read on the subject however was not by Michio Kaku, it was by Brian Greene called “The Elegant Universe.” At the time,the book barely made sense, but the underlying picture or idea was easy to grasp. Stringtheory as it's name suggests is a theory where the world is a conglomerate of vibrating stringsof energy, and the different things we see around us are just different vibrations of the samestrings. Fascinated by the idea, I had to know more and it was then that I knew I wanted tobecome a physicist.Shortly after I found the Harrisburg Area Community College and I signed up for placementtesting. Off I was in my 1977 Mercury Marquis that I bought for $400. I at least made it toHarrisburg but then my car stalled and would not start back up. Lost and scared in aunfamiliar city I did not know what to do or even who to call. It was not until about an hour later that my car turned over, but by then I had already missed the placement test. FrustratedI went home ready to give up, I thought that I was surely out of my mind trying to become aphysicist. To put things in perspective, included is a picture of my Mercury Marquis.Looking back, probably one of the most comical events of owning this beast was first dates.The look on some of women's faces when I pulled up in my chariot will always remain withme, but at least it got me to where I wanted to go about 90% of the time. Unfortunately thereis not enough time for the other stories. But I will say this, one of the best days of my life waswhen I drove the car to the junk yard and sold it for scrap metal.A week later I picked up the courage to take the car out again, and this time I made it. Theresults were not bad, but I had to start out in intermediate algebra. My assigned advisor questioned if it was not better to major in something a bit more realistic. Ignoring her advise, Icontinued to dream. A few years later, and here I stand with a 3.9 GPA, after completing boththe calculus and physics sequence. I have now been accepted to Shippensburg Universityand will start there in the fall of 2009. It's a much different view to be able to look back andsee how far I have come. At first it appeared to be and impossible climb, but now I realize itwas nothing more than a small hill. Now there is a mountain to climb, and in reality my journeyis just really beginning. More importantly however is the fact that I am experiencing andlearning for myself, just as my dad had taught.

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