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I knew I would learn countless things when I came to college--harder math, advanced writing techniques, different religions, time management, how to cook on my own, parallel parking, and how to set up my own doctor appointments. However, perhaps the most beneficial skill I have learned has been how to disagree with others. Coming from Kit Carson, I knew there would be numerous differences between my peers at CU Boulder and myself. Many local community members raised their eyebrows when they found out I was going to be living in this new place for the next four years. When I thought about it, I realized that we all tend to surround ourselves with people who hold similar beliefs. Therefore, my choice to willingly attend a university in a city that was unlike my small community seemed quite bizarre.

Attending the University of Colorado Boulder has taught me to learn and listen to an array of opinions. By listening to these unfamiliar viewpoints, I have not only solidified my own core values and strengthened my arguments, but I have become friends with people who are opposite of me in more ways than one. Even when people would question some of my values, I have never swayed from my core beliefs simply because I was the minority in the room. But rather, I have been able to voice what I believe in and compel my friends to reconsider their positions on certain issues. The relationships I have formulated with people who contradict me have been valuable in a unique way. I desire friends in my life who are kind, genuine, and loyal. Although I have had disagreements with these people, they have helped me become a better student in the game of life.

From my perspective, I have always understood that life was all about learning. You go to elementary school to learn basic math and spelling, you go to junior high to learn geography and how to write stories, you go to high school to learn chemistry and foreign languages, and you go to college to learn how to work in a certain profession. Perhaps, most importantly, college is a time to figure out what you truly believe. While my beliefs have not shifted much since leaving southeast Colorado, I now have a better grasp about why I believe the things I do. I believe all adults should spend time learning from others, even if it is from those whom they disagree with. After all, well intentioned people having tough conversations is how we, as a society, can improve. 

I believe we can all become better students in the game of life if we can learn to disagree. 

Haley Johnson is a sophomore at the Colorado University in Boulder.  She is a 2018 graduate of Kit Carson High School.