Why Neville Longbottom was included in my scholarship essay

Earlier this year I started university classes back up for the first time in almost seven years. It’s been a bit of a rocky transition, but I think I might finally be getting a handle on my classes and everything that goes with college life. This is my second “go” at a university-type setting, and it is definitely different than my first. I’m ten years older, ten years more married and have ten years of life experience behind me. Part of these new experiences in school are applying for scholarships, one of which is below. I’ve really enjoyed being able to express myself in essays for scholarships and classes and my love of Harry Potter came through on this one.

Essay Topic:

  • Your topic is to select one fictional or non-fictional character whom you have read in the past, who has had a strong and positive impact to help shape who you are today. This character may be chosen from a contemporary fictional work, a modern creative work (ie. poetry), or may span past historical classics or plays (ie. Shakespeare). You must be sure to describe, in depth, some of the characteristics this individual exhibits and how they relate to who you are and how they have impacted you. For example, were these traits something you closely related to? It’s imperative that you give very specific examples on how you were affected. You may elect to use some selected text from the readings for support, however, the majority of your essay should be your own personal analysis and reflection. In other words, this essay should not be a book report.

Neville

I realized that when I started this essay that my choice of literature might seem childish or common, but the Harry Potter series has changed my life as it has so many other young people in my generation and age. We grew up on these books and movies that have changed our life.

While some people may choose Harry, Hermione or Ron as their character to pull from, I pull from a more minor character, but one that is still so important to the story — Neville Longbottom. Neville enters the story as a bumbling young wizard who is chubby, awkward and unliked. In other-words, me as a child, sans being a wizard.

I was awkward and bumbling and was teased mercilessly. I never seemed to fit in and I couldn’t relate to my classmates without being labeled a ‘weirdo’. This was a phase that I thought would never end and like Neville, I immersed myself in my favorite subjects, hobbies and ideas. Even though I wasn’t an only children, I was a lonely child because of the teasing of my peers. Looking back, I relate myself to Neville, through his triumphs and his sorrows.

At the end of the first book, Professor Dumbledore told Neville that, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” After reading the first book, this is something that has stuck with me. While it may be hard to stand up to our enemies, our friends are people that are close to us in so many ways and it can be harder to stand-up to them than our enemies, or people we hardly know.

My experience in standing up to friends (and family) comes only a few short years ago for me. As a bit of a backstory, I grew up in a restrictive religious household and never questioned what I was taught or told. I went along with everything because that was what was expected of me.

Four years ago, I started to read and explore ideas outside of the confines of my born faith and came up across these same sort of friendship obstacles that Neville did. When I began to question, my friends and family both told me to set those concerns aside and focus on my religion. I realized that I could I either sacrifice my integrity and self to others or stand-up against something I didn’t believe was right — I chose the latter.

Every since that day, I have followed Neville Longbottom’s path on being loyal to my friends who care and love for me as well as fighting for what is right like Neville does with Dumbledore’s Army. I have involved myself in several social justice causes in my community in order to make the place I live better for those around me and those to come. I have worked on environmental, food rights, GBLTQA and other issues that are dear to my heart and would love to work closely with the Harry Potter Alliance an actual non-profit that works on social justice issues with a flair of magic.

You may recall that near the 5th book, it becomes more clear that Neville Longbottom is more than just a minor character, that if Lord Voldemort would have chosen Neville, he might be the one with the scar on his head instead of Harry. When I read this, I realized how important each one of us really are. It doesn’t matter if I am famous or have a lightning-bolt scar on my head because of the Dark Lord — I matter. I have had friends show that to me in my life. What I do matters and I can change the world, little by little.

Even though I have parts of Harry, Ron and Hermione in my personality, I associate closest with Neville. He is who I see myself becoming and who I have always been in the back of my mind. I am not a hero to all, but I can be a hero to just one.

With this knowledge, I plan to continue my education to benefit those in my community and world around me. I want to use my knowledge that I gain in the next few years to help not only myself, but those that I touch so that I can help change the world, one person by one person.

Whether or not I receive this scholarship, I am grateful for the opportunity for a bit of geeky self-reflection to talk about one of my favorite book series and how the characters and stories within have changed my life.

Accio Scholarship!

*Written January 2014

Bellingham Parks Series: Whatcom Falls Park

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The first place in the Bellingham Park Series is Whatcom Falls, one of my all-time favorites in the surrounding area. In fact, it was the first park that Mr. Geek and I went to when we first moved here about six years ago. When you walk into the park it is like you are walking into a whole new world, like an enchanted forest. All you can hear is the crashing of the falls, the tweets of the birds and all the life that is contained in that beautiful park.

Collage One

During the spring and the summer, the colors just pop right out. It really is fascinating to see so much wildlife in all the forms of fauna and fern. Check out the following pictures to see all the other amazing shots I was able to catch at the park.

Collage 2

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Whatcom Falls has a bit of a unique history that most city or county parks don’t. The word Whatcom is derived from the Lummi word Xwotʼqom,which means “noisy water”, and by the following video you can certainly see why it is called that.

Every chance I get, I head over to this park, as it is only about five minutes from my home. They even have this cute little fish hatchery (which I didn’t get pictures of this time) where you can see the fish before they release them into the wild.

Whatcom Falls

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Ink for Geeks

Ever since I got my first tattoos four years ago, I’ve been wanting to get some ink that represented my love for geeky culture and life. I have so many interests that can be considered geeky and I didn’t know what kind of tattoo I wanted to get to represent this adoration of my favorite stories, characters and their intertwining lives.  It finally came to me earlier this year after looking on Pinterest for some ideas and came up with the following:

Dark Mark Tattoo

 

Tattoo by Jesse at Industry Tattoo in Bellingham, Washington

If you aren’t familiar with this image, it is the Dark Mark that the Death Eaters in the Harry Potter series receive when they join with the main villain Voldemort. To some people it may seem like an odd choice for a tattoo, as it is typically the sign of a ‘evil’ person. What drew me towards this particular image is the story of Severus Snape, a character within the books.

As the books start out, we are treated to Snape as a professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and as a semi-nemesis of Harry Potter. He seems to always be getting in Harrys way and causing problems for him. It isn’t until the last book, Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows, that you find out Snape’s real story. He was protecting Harry throughout his stay at Hogwarts because of his love for Harry’s mother, Lilly Potter. Along his journey (before the books started) Snape fell in with the Death Eaters, but was saved by Dumbledore.

I see his story as the human experience. All of us lose our way at times and make decisions that aren’t the best , but that doesn’t mean we are evil people. Even though I’ve made some questionable decisions in the past, I don’t regret a single one because they made me who I am today.  As one of my favorite quotes by Victoria Holt says, “Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.”  

To me, my Dark Mark tattoo represents all of those experiences, choices and decisions that I have made — good and bad. It reminds me that I am an imperfect human being trying my best with what I have, and sometimes I will make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean I should stop trying.

 

 

 

 

Bellingham Parks Series

After moving to Bellingham, Washington a little under eight years ago I’ve realized what awesome beauty there is in nature, and I wanted to start sharing it with you. This series will feature Bellingham Parks, trails and nature spots whenever I have a chance to go out and take a few minutes out of my day to photograph them for you.

Whatcom Falls, May 2014

Washington State is full of amazing geological, water and other features, and that isn’t more apparent to me than here in Bellingham and Whatcom County. I’m just a few minutes from the ocean, an hour away from the mountains and in a hop, jump and a skip I can reach dozens of lakes, waterfalls, rivers and ponds.

Bellingham Parks Series:

Be sure to check back regularly to get updates on all the parks I visit, and if you have one that you think I should go to, be sure to leave a comment below.

Emerald City Comic Con 2014

It’s been a heck of a couple of weeks and I was going to post about Emerald City Comic Con the day after I got back, but I came down with the case of the flu + cold that had me down for awhile. Here are some of the pictures that I was able to snap.

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My friend and I waiting in line to get in!

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Captain America a.k.a. my husband

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My new flask, inspired by Firefly

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The posters that were new at comic con this year. I have to give the ECCC staff props for putting these up.

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My husband and I waiting in line for Alan Tudyk

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My new favorite Doctor Who dress

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A brillant Cheryl and Pam (Archer) cosplay

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A Dalek and Harley Quinn

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OMG! I love this shirt. It’s a bunch of quote from Serenity.

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One of my biggest nerdgasm moments of the con

I’ll admit it, I’m an extrovert.

Admitting something about yourself can be incredibly scary, even if you have a outgoing personality. During the past few months I’ve been doing a lot of what I guess you can call “soul-searching”. As a humanist, I don’t really have a better term than deeply digging into my own emotions and feelings to learn more about myself. A couple of days I ran across this particular article and realized something very clearly about myself, I’m an extrovert.

Extrovert Becky

Extroverts, like introverts need care — just in a different way. Like the author of the article, I have seen articles about how to care for introverts, and in my experiences, they have been incredibly helpful in learning more about my friends and family who are introverts. But, I wondered where that left me. Did extroverts need any care? Or because they were extroverts did they just have to get it themselves?

Question Mark

The were definitely a few points in the article that stood out to me and I definitely wanted to expand on them a bit and talk about what it means for an extrovert.

*Craving the company of others* This point stood heads over all the others to me. Just like an introvert needs time to themselves to recharge their batteries, many extroverts like myself find that being around people and in their company really recharges our batteries. People often ask me what my favorite thing to do is and I respond by saying “Hanging out with people.” And there couldn’t be a more true statement. I like doing all sorts of things, playing games, going out for dinner, bowling, seeing movies, etc., but for me, they exponentially more fun when I have other people around to share in the experience with. The energy of the people around me helps to recharge me so that I can keep being me.

*People assuming you are always confident* You will find that not all extroverts are confident. Sometimes we are (‘scuse the language), scared shitless of what we are doing. Most days you can find me psyching myself up for my next big adventure, and often failing at that. Most days I’m just faking the confidence so I can get through whatever I am doing next. I try to take each day at a time, but if you think extroverts are all confident, remember that we fake it a good deal of the time.

*You’re not allowed to be sad.* This is one that I’ve noticed recently. I’m generally a very happy-go-lucky person, but I’ve realized that I need to allow myself to experience other emotions in order to appreciate my happy, joyful and ecstatic emotions. Some people use sadness or anger as a mask, I’ve always used happiness. Sometimes I just need to be sad. It doesn’t mean I’m going to be sad forever.

Becky Flower

At the end of the day, I’m an extrovert. I am generally happy and incredibly energetic, passionate and intense in who I am, but sometimes I just need to say it aloud. I’m an extrovert, and I need others. =)