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From age zero to thirteen, I traveled from hospital to hospital - Hardships at a young age


april97 1 / -  
Dec 24, 2014   #1
Prompt for Essay (Common Application): Option #1: Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

I need help with the ending of my essay. I feel like it ends to abrupt. Additionally, I want the admissions committee to feel like I learned a lesson. Although I mention the lesson, I don't feel like I do it any justice when I write about it. Leave any comments/suggestions, thank you for your help!

From age zero to thirteen, I traveled from hospital to hospital, with my parents and brother, in the back of our run-down 99' Ford Windstar. By the age of six, I was so accustomed to the familiar routine that I was able to break down into three simple steps: A) Hear my father's excruciating cries in the middle of the night. B) Pretend to sleep while my mother snatched my brother and I from our bedroom and carried us to our van. C) Cover my ears with my blanket, attempting to muffle my mother's desperate cries as we crossed the border.

The hospital location and outcome would always differ, but the situation remained the same. At age thirty four, my father had his first inguinal hernia surgery. A few months later, he had another, and then another, and another... It was an endless cycle of crossing the border, since we couldn't afford a doctor in the U.S.

My family eventually hit rock-bottom when I was eleven. I didn't notice at first, but I gradually became aware of the different house I seemed to live in. Both my parents were unemployed, my father couldn't walk, and I didn't get to do the regular childhood activities, like play with him at the park or attend school on a regular basis. For the next six months, I resided with a mother and father whose depression seized the household.

The situation slowly began take it's toll on me. After his "final" surgery, I thought of my actions as meaningless and life as unvaluable since I couldn't do anything to help my family. I hated life and constantly reminded myself of the little hell I had to live through on a day to day basis. I lived like that for months, doubting that life would get better.

I isolated myself from the world, too ashamed to let people know what was going on. I stopped attending birthday parties because I had no money to buy a gift, I no longer talked to my friends, and hadn't smiled in months.

My daily routine consisted of going to school, coming home, and helping take care of my father. As I observed him from the edge of his bed, I began to think of the doctor's words and how death was a possibility. He looked at me and said, "you cannot let your struggles predict or consume your life, instead let them become your motivations to pursue your dreams." It dawned on me that I really was letting this consume my life. "Make me smile again," he told me.

Being merely just a child, there wasn't much I thought I could do to fulfill his request. I pondered for days on what I could do, but came up with nothing. When my teacher had called home to let my parents know I had received an award at school, I saw them smiling again and found the answer to my father's request.

I began to immerse myself more in the classroom and strived to become the best with my father's struggles in mind. There were times when I doubted myself because something seemed hard, but I remembered my father's eyes, filled with hope. At a young age, I developed a mindset that consisted of: Not letting my struggles define who I am. I used my education and my family's hardships as my motivation to reach success. And to this day, that mindset has only fortified.
krcheng 5 / 9 2  
Dec 24, 2014   #2
great topic you got there!

some minor edits:
After his "final" surgery => what do you mean by "final"? try to get your message across without using " ", its not very clear to the readers what you're talking about.

"Make me smile again," he told me. => whos "he"? Your father? The doctor? I'm confused.

Your ending needs a bit more of a punch. Maybe try to tie it back to travelling to the hospital constantly so it comes to full circle? Or trying elaborate a bit more on how this story is central to your identity. Why is so important that we know about your struggle? you need to expand on your last para to answer so that it answers those questions. Cuz you have a great story but you need to take it a step further and explain more how it HAS and WILL impact your life.


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