I've just finished up my UC essay (a little late, I know). Anyway, take a look, thanks. I'd be happy to offer suggestions to anybody else coming up on this UC deadline, too, providing they correct this and post a link to their essay in the next hour or so (it's 11:15 in Germany right now)...
anyway, thanks again!
Describe the world you come from - for example, your family, community or school - and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations. *
My dad is an engineer; my mother, a dance major. Together, they taught me what is important in life- my father showed my how to approach problems, my mother exemplified the creativity needed to solve them. With this knowledge, it quickly became clear to me that every problem has a solution, and finding that solution is merely a matter of approaching that problem from the appropriate perspective. More than that, though, this knowledge helped me find a place in the world. The thought that every problem can be solved is earth shattering- it means that I can actively be an asset to humanity at large.
Since then, perspective has shaped my world. My world and I are truly in a symbiotic relationship- as I grow, it expands; as I change it, it changes me. As I travel through life, I collect perspectives. To do this, I interact. By communicating with people, no matter on what level, we absorb a little bit of their lives and gain valuable insight into the viewpoint of them.
For almost three years, I worked in a senior living home. There, I gathered the unique viewpoint of a group that has entire lifetimes of experience. That perspective was new to me: I quickly realized that the way I saw the world and the way that they did were in no way alike. And, while I could merely assimilate decades of experience through conversation, I could nonetheless appreciate it.
Equally revealing was my work at a gas station last summer. At a gas station, I had the singular opportunity of meeting just about everyone- as one of the most basic necessities of modern living; I witnessed all walks of life coming into my station. Always, no matter who they were, they had a way of looking at things- from the man who lived in his truck to the Mercedes salesman; everybody had a different history and a different perspective.
This year, I'm living in Luebeck, Germany, as part of a cultural exchange program with AFS. Here once again is a fresh set of perspectives- the country has a totally unique national mindset, and the people view world events, societal problems, and personal relationships in a different light than Americans. Here more than ever, I realize the importance of different mindsets.
Up until this point, my life and my mission may sound like those of an applicant to a Communications major, or maybe Intercultural Studies. Unlike in these majors, though, I don't see perspective as an end in itself. Like my parents taught me, perspective is a tool to understanding problems. On a national scale, the United States is running out of space to store waste. In Germany, though, recycling is much more prevalent, bottle deposit costs are five times as high, and trash combustion as an energy source is much more widespread. Applying this sort of perspective to America is a simple solution to one of our big problems- rather than spending resources on developing new ideas, we simply need to expand our perspective. Or, on a smaller scale: when the mechanics in the garage at my gas station couldn't start a car, Rusty, the man who lived in his truck behind the station, was the one who had the tricks to get it running. Again, the solution was not to expend time and energy by sending the car back to the manufacturer, but, rather, to simply take the advice of the man out back.
Engineering is about creating efficient solutions to practical problems, and, just as my life has taught me that every problem has an answer, it has also taught me that there are a lot of problems in this world. Hence, there is a very real need for engineers- people with vision, with skills, and with perception. Not only is engineering something I believe that, given my background, I can excel at, but I also see it as a calling- my aspiration in life is to build this world into a better place.
I really like your approach to this prompt. You encompass your entire life instead of focusing on one aspect. You sound very globally aware because of your many experiences.
Some of your sentence structure is repetitive, though. For example, "My dad is an engineer; my mother, a dance major. Together, they taught me what is important in life- my father showed my how to approach problems, my mother exemplified the creativity needed to solve them." When you first do the semi colon-making two sentences into one with less words thing (if that makes sense), it is interesting and attention grabbing. But then you do it again in the next sentence and it makes it sound sort of halting. I recommend separating the second sentence out into two sentences or add some 'ands' or what have you. Spread that trick out so it acts as an attention grabber.
Also: "Or, on a smaller scale: when the mechanics in the garage at my gas station couldn't start a car, Rusty, the man who lived in his truck behind the station, was the one who had the tricks to get it..." Just get rid of the 'Or on a smaller scale:'. It will sound fine without it.