The Beauty of Pushing Our Limits

“Don’t limit yourself.”
My chemistry teacher from high school, Mr. Marquez said this one day in my sophomore year, when I was taking regular chemistry class with him. Sophomore year in high school was a tough one for me in many ways because I had a difficult time feeling confident and self-respect. Mr. Marquez’s “Don’t limit yourself” was one of encouragements I took it to heart at the time. It fueled my determination to go as far as I can despite feeling a lot of doubts about myself.

Looking back now as a sophomore in college, chemistry has carried me farther than merely fulfilling one of high school graduation requirements. I decided to take a physics class with Mr. Marquez in the summer following my sophomore year, then unexpectedly ended up in AP Chemistry my junior year. Up to that point, I had never thought about taking AP chemistry. I thought I was neither smart nor gifted in science enough to take such a class. Mr. Marquez was truly pushing limits I had set for myself.

Fast forward to my freshman year in college… AP Chemistry not only let me pass out of a college level general chemistry, but also opened the door for me to be a part of California Chemistry Camp as a mentor.

The two times I have been a part of the camp, Mr. Marquez’s “Don’t limit yourself.” resonated with me. As Hoby says it many times at the camp, the camp provides an environment and many opportunities to push our limits.

Personally, I ate redwood tree leaf and honey suckle for the first time. I also had an opportunity to make s’mores by my hands for the first time. Having grown up mostly in urban or suburban environment without much encounter with nature, these were new experiences for me.

As a mentor, I witnessed a few campers fly without their parents for the first time. I also witnessed a few campers who clearly stepped out of their comfort zone by interacting with people around them. These moments were beautiful, and it is an honor for me to have been able to be a part of these experiences.