Rachel Clyde

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

On a rainy Saturday morning in February, I was biking up Mount Tamalpais when my assistant coach asked me how I became interested in mountain biking. As I thought back on my life, some of my earliest biking memories were of riding bikes around our yard with my brothers and neighbors. We spent hours digging holes, making mud, and then building bike jumps right in the center of our yard. We spent entire days riding our bikes around the block and then over the jumps. Through much collaboration, five boys and I had created quite the obstacle course.

The effect of spending so much time with an older and younger brother, male cousins, and neighbors led to my identity as a tomboy. Playing outside with a lot of boys made me tough. Keeping up with the older boys taught me perseverance. They often ignored my opinion, which taught me how to speak up for myself to ensure that I was being heard. I also learned tolerance and patience because, trust me, ten year old boys can be extremely annoying.

These characteristics I built up in my childhood are still evident today. In some ways, I guess that I am still a tomboy because I love to play rough and get dirty, but I also love to acknowledge my feminine side. I am strong when I play sports; in soccer I earned the nickname Dirt, because I never hesitated to do anything to get the ball. I am also respectful but firm when I talk with people. In my junior year Social Justice class we had regular student led discussions called Harkness seminars. In these I learned to defend and present my opinion but also practice giving other people the opportunity to speak. I approach my academics with perseverance and determination as well. The week before my ACT test I had two tests, a quiz, and an essay but the night after the ACT was winter formal. Coming into that week I knew how difficult it was going to be therefore I directed my energy on staying focused with the thought of the dance as my motivation. In the end I felt really good about all of my tests and completely de-stressed through dancing.

While I have loved my life with two brothers there has also always been a part of me that wanted a sister. What attracted me to my high school was the community, which just happened to be all girls. When I surrounded myself with all those inspiring young women I was able to hone all of the things I had learned from my brothers and give them my own feminine touch. Each year our class would take a day-long retreat. At one of the retreats we focused on stereotypes and the impact they can have on people. Between doing exercises, sharing personal experiences, and honest conversation I felt connected to my classmates on a level much closer to the heart. We were able to strip away any facades and be completely open with one another. Recently, I realized that I may have chosen San Domenico because of the fact that it gave me so many female role models and sister figures. In fact, I now call the two siblings who first introduced me to San Domenico my sisters and even their parents refer to me as their adopted daughter.

So as I raced down Mount Tam with rain and mud splattering my face and the gears of my bike churning beneath my feet, I realized how much of an effect my brothers, and sisters have had on my life. I am a perfect mix of tomboy and girly-girl—strong and beautiful, tough and compassionate—and I love that.