My Experience In High School

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Until the summer of my sophomore year, I was unquestionably shy. I was the kid whose raised hand lifted four inches off the table and who slouched over her sketches of strangers. That summer, I was forced to change. A pre-college program for the nerdiest of nerds at Carnegie Mellon called the National High School Game Academy forced this small, glasses-wielding ball of anxiety to start over. On the first day of the program, I completely forgot my roommate's name, three times in the same conversation. Faced with a roommate whose name I simply could not remember swinging her legs over the back of a chair, panic set in. Her name was Julianna. She was addicted to Trident Watermelon Twist, and every time we would walk out the door, she would buy another pack of gum. Normally, I probably wouldn't have talked to her. But I had to talk to her---we shared a living space. In the program, they gave us an insane amount of homework, because they wanted to put us through a program that was similar to their master's level coursework. Most nights we stayed up until 2 am, and in order to have food after midnight, we would go to the little store near the game design classroom to buy Oreos. The program directors were determined to drag us into new territory--and new people. Assignments included frequent playtesting with new faces from other programs and team projects with teacher-assigned classmates. I found that talking to them wasn’t as stressful and painfully dull as I’d predicted. Our

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