Sep 2, 2009 #1
Hey everyone. I just start writing my college app essay. I couldn't think of any ideas so I just started writing from one of the first experiences I could think of that had an influence on me. I am not sure if the topic of my essay is good enough to rework into a solid essay, but here is what i have so far. This is my first rough draft. I'm pretty sure its to long as well. Any help and/or opinions would be greatly appreciated!
Common Application Personal Essay
-Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence
Many people might say aspiring to emulate a four year old might seem ridiculous. Yet I would beg to differ. After meeting 4 year Dakota from West Virginia, there is nobody else that could exemplify the type of person I want to be. When I decided to go on a mission trip with my church youth group to West Virginia, I expected to be helping others; yet this wasn't truly the case. Dakota helped me more then I could ever help him and his family. He helped me understand more about the world around me, and more importantly, he helped me understand more about the person I wanted to become.
When I got out of the car at our work site on the first day it was nothing like I expected. I knew we were working at a poverty stricken area but I was still in awe. We were in the United States, one of the richest countries on the planet. We hear stories about poverty around the world all the time, but you never think of seeing it in your own backyard. We spent 2 weeks building and painting a home in an area were trailers, rattlesnakes and blowup pools for showers were considered the usual. During our water breaks, we would spend time playing with the three young children (2 girls and a boy) that lived in the home we were working on. But during one of my breaks as everyone was playing with the two little girls, I felt compelled to hang out with little Dakota who was ostracized due to his eccentric behavior. Yes, he had some rough edges but after spending only 5 minutes with him I realized he was a smart, resourceful little kid.
As the weeks progressed and I spent more and more time with Dakota, I recognized that he made use of any opportunity he had. Any opportunity that would give him even the slightest exposure to the outside world he would jump on; even if it was just going to the hardware store in the nearby town with his dad. And Despite his age, he was so eager to help build and paint. On one of our last days on the trip, I was watching Dakota from afar playing with his two sisters and it dawned on me that he despite how smart he was, he probably never would have the same opportunities that I would be presented with. At that moment I felt a simultaneous feeling of sadness and enlightenment.
If he knew it or not Dakota taught me to not only be grateful, but to make use of every opportunity thrown at me and experience as much as my life will permit. I realized how much we take things for granted and opportunities in life we overlook. We don't even realize how privileged we truly are just to be alive. We neglect so many chances to experience new and enriching things just because of their easy accessibility. Dakota lived in a trailer in a terrible area. He had no mp3 player to listen to, no computer to use facebook, not even a proper toilet to use. While my friends complain about losing iPods, or getting upset when their parents don't let us go out with our friends, Dakota is content riding around in his broken tricycle and just happy to be living.
Just like Dakota I knew I had to take advantage of everything the world had to offer me to the best of my abilities. In my eyes, life is short and there might not be enough time to travel to every continent, to try every new cuisine, to go skydiving, or enough time to just lay back and smell the roses. That is why I feel the need to utilize my time and use every opportunity I have to try something new. I want to die knowing that I did everything that I could possibly do, and experienced as much as I possibly could. I want to die being able to say been there, done that. In addition, I want to be able to experience adversities as well. Without overcoming adversities one cannot truthfully say they haven't experienced as much as possible. If one doesn't experience how it feels to be upset, or to have felt loss how can then fully comprehend the extremity of feeling happiness or love. Without experiencing the other half, feelings such as happiness and gratefulness will ultimately have no meaning.
Resourceful, intelligent, appreciative and giving are all admirable qualities that Dakota possessed. He definitely set the bar for the person I want to become. He opened my eyes to a world of endless possibilities. He taught me to be grateful for what you have because there is probably someone out there who would die to be in your shoes. He made me realize the importance of giving back to others that might not be as privileged or have the capabilities to experience as much as yourself. There are so many people like Dakota who don't have the opportunities to live an enriching life. He inspired me to go on a mission trip to New Orleans the following year, participate in many community services extracurricular in my school and found the Amnesty International club at my school so kids like Dakota have the capabilities of experiencing many things. Even if it's just helping one person have the financial security to go to school it will make all the difference. When I think back to my time in West Virginia I think of how lucky I was to meet Dakota. Even though I was only privileged to know Dakota for two week, the lessons he taught me will stay with me forever.