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Questbridge Biography - factors and challenges that have shaped your personal life.

Ahndrahdee 2 / 6  
Sep 27, 2012   #1
Biographical essay
We are interested in learning more about you and the context in which you have grown up, formed your aspirations and accomplished your academic successes. Please describe the factors and challenges that have most shaped your personal life and aspirations. How have these factors caused you to grow? 800 words

I am Andrade Eliza Hendricks. Andrade's a Spanish surname that most people have difficulty pronouncing correctly. I'm a blend of cultures from across the globe, consisting of African American, Native American, Indian, Japanese, Scottish, Swedish, and English, but most people are content with labeling me as black. I see myself as a mermaid, or an Amazon. I'm six feet tall, so people assume I play basketball, with volleyball as a quick followup, but I love the water too much.

I was born in Oklahoma, but moved to San Diego to be closer to my father when I was nine. Things in California were vastly different from everything I had known. We now had to go to a laundry mat, walk home alone, sometimes cook, and I had my ridiculous growth spurt and grew to be as tall, if not taller than most of the teachers at school. I became angsty, upset and uncomfortable in my own body. I still lacked the kind of friendship I was used to, and was jealous of my sister for her ability to make friends so effortlessly. I was only truly happy at the beach, which was thankfully every weekend, and my father's house surrounded by his family and new baby. But one day he decided the best place for him and his three daughters to live and prosper would be North Carolina and would we come spend the summer there. The reason for our relocation had relocated to the other side of the country.

After that, my mother hurt her back and living in Chula Vista alone became too much for her to handle, physically, financially, and emotionally, so we packed up our life and drove to San Antonio to live with my mother's mother who's never particularly cared for any of us. She tried her best to ignore our presence and comforted herself with the notion that this was a temporary living situation. We all did. But my mother's back rendered her unfit to work, and I was so scared we were going to lose her. I was plagued by nightmares of who's care we would end up in.

For the first time in my life, there were two authority figures in the house and living there became a passive aggressive headache and a half. In an attempt to get us out of the house, away from the accusations and yelling, my mother took us to swim lessons, and that's what saved me from despondency. The prospect of high school swim team got me thinking about my future in earnest. I had always known I would be going to college, that it was a fixed part of my life, but taking swim lessons was the first time we actively invested in something that could add to that. Swimming was the first time we spent outside of school that would contribute to my future. Swimming was the first thing I had to genuinely work hard to succeed in.

I have stayed in swimming throughout high school. Even though I am definitely not the fastest and I don't particularly care for racing, I still enjoy being in the water. The Aquatics Administrator hired me to teach kids to swim when I was a freshman, gave me the opportunity to provide other children the clarity and purpose the pool gave to me. By that time my grandmother had undergone chemotherapy and retired. I was the only employed person in the house, but we never went without. We always had what we needed.

I have accepted the fact that I will probably never understand my father , or my grandmother. If he hadn't left California, I wouldn't have realized how independent I could be. If she hadn't been so cold and cruel, I wouldn't know how to forgive and carry on. My mother is the only adult that has respected me enough to explain her actions, even when I was a child. If she hadn't offered me her justification, or never listened to mine, I wouldn't be as understanding and rational as I am now.

The people in my life have helped produce the intuitive, college bound mermaid I am today whether they planned to or not, and I am grateful to all of them. I believe the turbulence I have experienced has made me a more sensible person, but I still have silly, partially-formed frontal lobe moments. I still don't know where I want to go or what I aim to do, because there are so many possibilities I have yet to explore. But I do know I want to actively contribute to society, and am more than willing to learn how.
Leynorboard 6 / 16  
Sep 27, 2012   #2
To be honest, I believe it fizzles out in the begining. Try to make it more sweet and to the point."I'm six feet tall, so people assume I play basketball, with volleyball as a quick followup" This seems like irrelevant information they do not need when deciding whether to admit you or not. They are reading thousands of essays, and are really looking for one to stand out and the begining is what will hook them. Or, wake them up. ha. Maybe make an out line of all the important events that shaped your aspirations. Try to simplify and cut out the extra mundane info.

like:-uncomfortable lonely childhood
-mothers hurt back/ move
-unproper care
This might help make it more clear and concise for you when you are writing.
And are your parents divorced? it seems to be unclear about your family situation.

I'm also a swim instructor and have a natural attraction to the water :) so I feel you on that. cool coincidence.
But your love for the water doesnt seem to SHOW enough about YOU. They want to see how your challanges caused you to grow
I'm also sending an essay to questbridge. If you could, read mine and give me your feed back! it'd be much appretiated!
Best of luck :)
quando04 2 / 11  
Sep 27, 2012   #3
First, thank you for adding some advice to my bio essay!

Your essay frankly is 828 words. But it is an easy fix, just follow Leynorboard's suggestions and cut down on unnecessary words will do the trick!

Your introduction is a very common approach, try to modify it a bit. "My name is..." "My hobbies are..." are very common approaches to essays that talks about a student's life. Try to avoid it s best you can. Also mention how college can help you achieve your life goals.
OP Ahndrahdee 2 / 6  
Sep 27, 2012   #4
Thanks to both of you!
I guess I got hung up on the Biography part of it. /:

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