March 18, 2008
By Jorge E Gonzalez Aragon, Culver, IN

“Form up from tallest to shortest! Do not look around!”
My heart beat rapidly. My hands trembled. My body sweated. I was confused, nervous, and frightened, wondering what they would do to us next. We – the thirty new cadets of the Black Horse Troop – formed up as fast as we could, without making any noise. The next thing I remember is marching through the campus, listening to the non-stop cadence: “Right! Left! Left! Left! Right! Right! Right! Left!”
That day was the first time I had ever marched, the first time I had ever worn a uniform. That year was a turning point of my life. That year I learned that race doesn’t matter, that neither does economic status or physical appearance. We were equal. Each new cadet was treated the same way, all of us united to succeed.
During my first year at Culver Military Academy, I learned that being Latino, African-American, Asian, or another race did not matter because all of us were on a level playing field. Before coming to Culver, I feared that I would be discriminated against because I am Mexican. But I was wrong. Everybody treated me the same way as they treated others. I was screamed at no differently any other new cadet. But I also was rewarded no differently: I worked hard and became one of the best new cadets that year.
Culver has also taught me that economic status is not what defines a person. As I looked at the different students from all over the world dressing in their uniforms, I realized that we looked the same. I realized that a person need not have a large amount of money or wear designer clothes to be a better person. At Culver, I’ve met people from all economic classes, from the richest to the poorest, from my friend whose father owns a corporation to my friend whose father is a janitor. We all look the same in our uniforms. I’ve learned that everyone is special, and has defining characteristics.
Finally, Culver has shown me that physical appearances should not be criticized. As my new cadet year started, I saw several people who looked overweight; I thought they were not going to succeed. But I was wrong, again. My roommate was overweight, but that wasn’t a conflict for him – he worked harder than everyone else and won the “Best New Cadet” award in the Black Horse Troop. I’ve learned that even if people look at you differently because of your physical characteristics, you shouldn’t give up since you are like every other person and if you work hard you can achieve excellent results
I’ve learned important lessons at boarding school. Most important, I’ve learned that people shouldn’t denigrate others because we are all equal.

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