The Formula for Fruition: Nature vs. Nurture
The Story of My Search
Have you ever wondered what makes a person successful? Why is it that people who grow up in the same environment grow up to have such different qualities of life? As a child of two parents who would be considered “successful” by society, I’ve always wondered how differently I would perform in life had I been the child of different people or raised in a different environment. I’d heard plenty of stories about people coming from bad childhoods or being raised by unsupportive parents and still succeeding, but my question was, how common is this? How often is it that you can find people who succeed, in the way that society imagines success (happy, relatively wealthy, good at their job, and a somewhat active member of their community), when they were not raised in a household that was optimal for breeding success?
My search began when I was accepted into Manual and noticed the competitiveness of the application process. I saw many people get accepted and many denied. Most of the people who got into Manual, regardless of their magnet, were raised in a household where they were supported very much by their family and were given many opportunities to work on their skills. Only a few of the people whom I saw being accepted came from low-income families or less economically, educationally, or emotionally supportive backgrounds.
Research has shown that children from a background of poverty are less than half as likely to go to college, with only 34% of impoverished children in America going to college and 79% of middle or high-income children going to college. (Webley) Even students with high GPAs and high test scores are less likely to challenge themselves after they graduate or attend rigorous colleges with more resources and opportunities if they are from a household that offered less opportunities.
Even with many examples showing that successful people can come from unlikely backgrounds, a lot of the research seems to suggest the contrary. After we graduate, society seems to expect people to go on to live successful and productive lives, regardless of their background. These conflicting ideas and high expectations have all led me to wonder: When trying achieve the goal of success, is natural ability more important than the environment you grow up in?
I began my search to finding this answer by talking to my grandmother about her experiences as an African American woman from the projects of Louisville, who later became a successful stockbroker. “Although I grew up in the ‘ghetto’, as you call it, I was fortunate enough to have a mother who valued the importance of education. She may have been a single mother with little money, but she made sure we stayed focused on school. As soon as my sister, brother, and I got home, my mother made us stay inside.” she told me, “We weren’t allowed to go outside for fear of being influenced by the neighborhood and its people. I never really...