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Personal Statement/ Prompt 1 (Background)/ A time I helped my friend


This is my Common App Personal Statement, answering prompt 1
(Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.)

Please be as critical and constructive as you guys can! Thank you so much.

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saving dien



"Dien, what are you doing there? STOP, DO NOT MOVE...Walk back please..."

Others think he was melodramatic, unnecessarily suicidal; I think he was desperate for help and understanding.

The day I stopped Dien, my classmate, from jumping off that cliff, I was numb, scared, and determined to save him.

Dien had always been quite socially awkward. By constant chattering, educing stories from him, I realized the root of his abnormalities: Dien considered himself excessively guilty and socially undesirable. He blamed himself for everything from our class' troubles to his parents' fights. He was scared of helping people, for fear that his good deeds would be considered uncalled-for. He appeared to be forceful and aggressive to people he loved, as he was scared of losing them. And most detrimentally, he was particularly more prone to suicidal thoughts whenever he felt a bit down.

Nonetheless, as I saw a spark of kindness in his character, I still want to be his friend. Turning to websites, libraries, asking my friends' Psychology professors, I finally learned that he was suffering depression.

Ever since that day, we were inseparable. When he felt at fault, I went through his worrisome stories, explained how it was of external reasons, rather than his fault. When he helped a cat, I told him how heart-warming his action was. When he shut himself off other people out of insecurity, I was there to calm him down. Whenever suicidal thoughts crossed his mind, I encouraged him to send me song lyrics. Then, we would hum to the song and reflect on what disheartened him. Those seemingly joyous "duets" were, in fact, very distressing to me, as I doubt whether I, a non-professional counselor, was helpful at all.

Thanks to Dien, I learned the importance of attending to people's spiritual well-being. I realized I could only help him if his friends and family understood what he was going through. In the Vietnamese culture, psychological health received little to no attention. Our public schools do not have counselors, and psychology was not included in the Vietnamese academic curriculum. My parents refused to acknowledge mental disorders. Dien's parents regularly took it out on him without caring about his feelings. Our teachers even asserted that he was just 'a bit melancholy'. Such lack of attention to others' feelings exacerbated Dien's mental well-being.

I became determined to raise awareness of mental disorders in our school. I first hosted class meetings to connect Dien's behaviors and symptoms of depression, explaining how it was an actual disorder rather than (as some put it) 'a teenagers' phase'. I helped our advisory teacher present to parents about how hard it is to recognize mental disorders and how easy it is to suffer one, which could only be prevented if parents pay attention to their children's emotion. Thanks to Dien, I have felt motivated to take part in countless of extracurricular activities in which my responsibility is to ensure other participants' emotional state. My experience in helping Dien has enabled me to establish close relationship between people and enhance everyone's emotion through the projects I participated.

Gradually, Dien's acquaintances became more empathetic to his feeling; Mental illness got more attention in our class environment. Most importantly, Dien has learned to treasure himself more, to always remind himself how loved and appreciated he was.He is gradually learning to share his thoughts and everyday stories to other classmates. Until now, Dien still sends me song lyrics. Those surprisingly happy songs are declaration of Dien being blissful and enjoying his life, instead of sad and depressed ones as before.

It was undoubtedly my most anticipated School Talent Show. "Representing class 12CA2, performing Gorillaz' ON MELANCHOLY HILL, I may present you, KIM DIEN." As he walked up the stage to perform in front of the whole school, our classmates were roaring his name. I smiled wholeheartedly, proudly, and blissfully amidst the deafening crowd.

In my opinion that is a good essay that shares a good interest and story. However, I think you need to talk more about yourself than about Dien. You did talk a lot about yourself and how you learned from Dien's disorder, but like for example, the entire second paragraph is all about Dien and not you. Another thing is, what happened with the suiciding story? You didn't talk about it again nor finish the story of him jumping off that cliff. Was that before you knew him, or after it. I just don't think it flows with the rest of essay that much, but don't remove it though.

Good luck with your essay, I really like the topic!
"Ever since that day, we were inseparable." <- by "that day," do you mean the day you stopped your friend or the day you realized he had depression? It should probably be the latter because otherwise you are suggesting that you realized "the root of his abnormalities" and saw "a spark of kindness" and "learned that he was suffering depression" all in one day. So I suggest you specify that after realizing that your friend had depression, you guys became inseparable.

"attending to people's spiritual well-being" <- you probably meant mental well-being; spiritual well-being is related to religions.
I like your essay but the conclusion seems to not connect very well with the rest of your writing. I suggest you provide a bit of contexts if you wish to keep this conclusion. You can switch to a different conclusion and reflect on what you learned about your "background, identity, interest, or talent" to make sure you answer the prompt. Good luck!


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