How Reasoning Saved My Life

It was my first day in my school’s Gifted & Talented Program. Just minutes before, I had been called upon by my teacher and told to report to the cafeteria, where classes would be held. Feelings of nervousness, fear, and apprehension bubbled in my gut as I walked across the threshold for the very first time. I knew the most elite students of my school would be waiting and, secretly, I wondered if I belonged. At that time in life, I struggled with acceptance.

I walked into the ragged wooden door and quickly scurried to a seat in the back corner. When everyone turned to silently announce my arrival, I realized my unspoken contemplation had made me late. Embarrassed, I buried my face in the stack of papers already waiting at my desk.

“Alright students. Welcome to the Gifted & Talented Program. My name is Mr. Canereli.”

Something about his voice immediately calmed the butterflies in the stomach. I shyly looked up at him and listened.

“Today we will begin with a deductive reasoning puzzle. Does anyone know what deductive reasoning is?” he asked.

Everything in the room remained still. I assumed I was not the only clueless student in the program.

“Deductive reasoning is a method of gaining knowledge. Today’s assignment will help you explore your ability to figure things out using given information. Look at the first page in your packet and take out a pencil. You will be given five minutes to read the clues and solve the puzzle. It is best to use X’s and O’s.”

I sheepishly looked down. The paper was home to a grid of six columns and six rows. There were four clues. Since we were only given five minutes, I assumed it was wise to immediately begin working. I pulled out my favorite pencil and quickly read through the clues, failing to come to any conclusions.

“Breathe…slow down…you can do this…” I whispered to myself.

At this tender age I felt pressure to thrive in all academic subjects. Since my mom and my dad hadn’t completed college, and my older sister did not do her best in school, I always put extra pressure on myself to do well. I refused to accept failure of any kind.

The clues repeated themselves in my head and I picked up my pencil. Before I knew it, X’s and O’s covered my paper.

“Sylvia is not married to the Cowboys fan and Jen is not married to the Giants fan” I silently reread.

The blank squares, which once stood between me and my goal, were all filled in. The entire puzzle was completed! I raised my hand and waved it sheer excitement. The assignment, which first represented fear and doubt, had become a symbol of acceptance and personal excellence. In my head, I instantly heard my grandmother’s favorite scripture and I realized I could “do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

That day, I not only learned how to think, but I realized I could do anything I put my mind to. I now aim to pass on the lessons I learned from Mr. Canereli on my first day in the seventh grade Gifted & Talented program. As a young woman, I seek to educate, equip, and inspire those in need and, as I enter college, I will use these tools to contribute to my environment.

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