What do you get when you cross a traditional Jewish couple from Manhattan’s Upper East Side with a Catholic, Mexican-Hispanic couple from McAllen, Texas? The author of this essay.

I attend a high school of mostly white, Jewish students, but my distinctly ethnic features set me apart. I was born to a Hispanic-American family with Mexican roots living in Texas and was immediately adopted by a Caucasian, Jewish family in New York City. As a result, I have grown up with a dual identity of sorts, which has recently fueled many questions and interests within me. While I can’t say I have a whole foot in another world, you could say I have a toe there.

My vast scientific curiosities, especially regarding the nature/nurture debate in biology, are not confined to textbooks. They exist in me. My self-reflection and growing contemplation on this topic have allowed me to see my sense of identity in this scientific context. I see my genetic roots as a blueprint for my life, but that blueprint is filled in with color through my life experiences: loud family dinners, ice skating in Rockefeller Center, earning a top award for my school’s science fair. Each has shaped the raw material I was born with into my current identity.

That toe I mentioned, it is filled with curiosity. I have not sufficiently exposed myself to my Mexican-Hispanic roots or explored that part of my being. Duke University’s Center for Multicultural Affairs has an impressive offering of multicultural clubs, and its host of ethnic and cultural outlets, including the multipurpose space and library of multimedia resources, will allow me to focus more on this largely ignored part of my character. Having grown up in a rather isolated sub-culture in multiethnic New York City, I ironically see Duke’s diverse campus as an escape from my somewhat insulated life on the Upper East Side. I am aware of how the limitations of self-segregation can impede an experience and am eager to join Duke University’s vibrant student body. It is there that I will nourish the ethnic richness in me that has yet to be fully expressed, adding a unique perspective to the campus diversity.

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