Common App: Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
For Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Duke, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Miami, and Boston College... Also, probably some version of this for Columbia, Georgetown, and University of Florida
I sat anxiously, hands folded, but my face was trained to conceal emotion. A voice to my right elaborated on John Locke's natural rights philosophy and other topics I had heard time and time again, only to be eclipsed by my throbbing heartbeat which intensified by the second. My brow perspired and my frigid palms were trembling, yet I knew better than to let them distract me. I had to maintain the rehearsed procedure. I waited for my teammate to stop speaking, and, on cue, it was my turn; then I opened my mouth and spoke. In the mere minutes that followed, months of research and anguished preparation burst forth. Adrenaline rushed through my veins as my lips pronounced the words that I had studied countless times, each word deliberate and precise. The world was consumed by my voice. Later, when it was all over, our incessant practice finally rewarded us as we were ultimately named the state champions of the "We the People: the Citizen and the Constitution" competition and represented the state of Florida at the National Finals in Washington, D.C. that May. Participating in the "We the People" competition was irrefutably the highlight of my high school career and permanently transformed the way I viewed myself and the world.
I was not always as confident or passionate as I am today. Rather, until the beginning of high school, I felt out of place. I was always the archetypal shy student, taunted by my peers with barely a word in retort. At times it seems surreal, in retrospect, that I have changed so much, and I take pride in knowing that I am not the same person anymore. I would be remiss to consider the fact that my experiences in "We the People" taught me simply about American government and our Constitution. My stalwart determination to succeed in this competition instilled the sense of courage and confidence in me I had always lacked, which will further prepare me for the challenges of a collegiate life in the near future. I found that I didn't tremble at the knees anymore when I had to speak in front of a group of people. I found that I could communicate a well-planned and persuasive argument with conviction and passion. Most noticeably, I found that I could surpass the superficiality of my peers and be more extroverted. I became someone who wouldn't back down to an obstacle, someone who wasn't afraid of failure and who would fight to avoid it.
Before my sophomore year, I had some interest in the field of law; however, my interest was essentially transitory. I vacillated between law, medicine, and architecture; but "We the People" solidified my intent to pursue a legal career. I was enthralled by the complexity yet efficiency of our nation's judicial system and knew that it was something I wanted to partake in for the rest of my life. My experience in "We the People" has fueled my desire and resolve to immerse myself in this field as much as possible. In the two years that followed, I continued to involve myself in "We the People" by mentoring the new teams, and I have felt fortunate to be able to watch the students follow in my footsteps.
In "We the People", I learned that every American has a civic duty. I exercised mine assiduously and encouraged others to do so as well. Consequently, I sought out an internship with my State Representative to contribute to the legislative system and learn from experience. In order to disseminate the importance of civic engagement to my peers, I founded the Junior State of America chapter at my school. My primary goal as President of the Junior State of America is, above all, combating apathy and fostering a free exchange of ideas.