This is my essay for the Common App, Topic #1 (Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.)
PLEASE feel free to tear it to shreds, I don't feel like a very good writer, haha. Is it even on topic? Help me out!
"Why do snails leave such an ooey-gooey trail, Mr. Patrick?" the girl asked, standing on the tippy-toes of her light-up Sketchers to observe the snail terrarium. Using her curiously large, electric-blue eyes as tools, she dissected the habitat.
"The slime helps them move faster, Amelia, " I explained, after quickly reading her freshly-written name tag. She gave a slight smile, withdrew a miniature magnifying glass from her denim pocket, and trudged deeper into her snail examination. I looked at the ground. It was the morning of Monday, July 27th, 2009, and my volunteer teaching week at River Legacy Science Center was just beginning. Although I was thrilled to help teach a roomful of 2nd graders about various slimy creatures, I couldn't help but be distracted by my thoughts of the future. Merely three weeks stood between me and the first day of ninth grade. The ninth grade. The first year that everything actually counted. Worries about perfecting my high school GPA and class rank swarmed the back of my fourteen-year-old mind. How was I going to earn the stellar statistics required to achieve success in my upcoming high school education?
I looked up and tried to refocus my thoughts back to the eager Amelia, who was still fixated on the snail.
"Did you find anything interesting?" I asked.
"Of course!" she chirped. "Look at how the snail moves towards the dark! Do you think he likes the dark? I can't stand the dark! Dirt is dark. Does he like dirt? Ew, dirt!"
Considering I am now seventeen, and still sleep with the bathroom light on, it's safe to say we found some common ground.
"Yes, Amelia, snails love the dark," I said, halfway chuckling.
As the week progressed, my fellow volunteer teachers and I marveled at her enthusiasm. Yes, other kids in the class asked questions. But none quite as fervently as Amelia. She never ceased to discover something new. Even during free-time, while other kids played hopscotch and nibbled on Nilla Wafers (my personal favorite snack), Amelia bounced around the room, fully immersing herself in her educational opportunity. But what was driving her? Why was she pursuing her education so tenaciously? She had no grades to keep up with, no final exams to ace.
And then I understood. She was gorging herself, but not with Nilla Wafers. She was feasting on knowledge. Her only goal was to satisfy her hunger to learn. Maybe I could learn from this.
I had entered that week expecting to be a static, knowledgeable teacher, but left feeling like a well-taught student. Amelia, my eight-year-old teacher, taught me how to discover. She showed me how to whip out my magnifying glass and take an active interest in my education. From that week on, I have let my curiosities and passion for learning propel me to academic success. If I supply my thirst for knowledge, the important numbers and statistics will take care of themselves.
So, whenever I'm in AP Calculus, and I ask that perfect question that sets off my lightbulb, I thank Amelia. "