It has become a well-known idea that one’s upbringing plays an important role in their future. From what I can recall, my upbringing was fairly normal—I had a birthday party every year, went to summer camp, loved slumber parties, was obsessed with Disney, etc. And after much thought, I have concluded the five most pivotal points in my life, which I believe have made me the person I am today…

1995, Age 7 – My Introduction to Oregon Trail Oregon Trail opened my eyes to an amazing new world of fantasy and make-believe. Who needs fairytales about prince charming when you can hunt buffalo and venture west, all from the comfort of the elementary school computer lab. Oregon Trail taught me three values I still regard very highly today. 1. Spending and saving wisely: Surviving a Midwest winter without stocking up on deer jerky is nearly impossible. 2. Animal rights activism: If you don’t treat your ox with respect, he will refuse to carry on. 3. Community: Although sometimes selflessness isn’t always easy or convenient, you never know when you might need to borrow an axel from the wagon behind you.

1996, Age 8 – The ’96 Summer Olympics and the Magnificent Seven The summer of 1996 is the first time I can ever remember crying tears of joy. The Olympics were being held in Atlanta, and everyone was on edge as seven little ladies flipped their way into the hearts of a whole nation after securing the first ever women’s gymnastics gold medal for the USA. After that night I was completely hooked. I joined a competitive gymnastics team and was awarded the success of a lifetime – the silver all-around medal at the Nebraska state gymnastics competition and bragging rights on the monkey bars for an entire year.

1997, Age 9 – Titanic Fever It was in 1997 that I got my first taste of love. One word: Leo.

1998, Age 10 – The Honorable Judge Judy I have Judge Judy to thank for my sass and ability to call BS. Not only did this woman inspire me to take the LSAT over a decade later (the results weren’t stellar), but I also have her to thank for the best Halloween costume ever worn by a 5th grader.

1999/2000, Age 11 – Backstreet Boys’ Masterpiece: Millennium This album gave me the opportunity to make one of the first important decisions of my life. BSB or N*Sync? After listening to ‘Millennium’ and ‘No Strings Attached’ on repeat and comparing lyrics, melodies, music videos and digging really, really deep, I chose Backstreet. The decision was not easy. In fact, I didn’t speak to two of my cousins (N*Sync lovers) for a couple of years simply because of our differing tastes in boy bands. The moral of the story is that I was true to my convictions and made a both educated and passionate choice for the sake of art.

Brigid Parr Assistant Publicist