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I thought she was DEAD - [UC Prompt 2]


halokenisis 3 / 11 4  
Nov 22, 2015   #1
Hi everyone, this is my essay for the UC app. I had a lot of difficulty writing this essay and keeping control of my writing. There are areas of my concern such as, making sure the essay focuses on me, how can I cut it down without dwindling its meaning, and is it impactful/insightful to revealing the person I am.

UC Prompt 2: Tell us about a personal quality, talent, or accomplishment, contribution, or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?

I thought she was dead.

Though a petite woman, my mom was stronger than looks gave her credit for. Fleeing war-torn Vietnam at 19, with nothing but straw sandals on her feet, she learned how to survive in America. Despite being diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis B, she insisted to continue working to make ends meet. She served as a pillar of strength, cementing the values I strive to live by. The night my dad and I found her on the kitchen floor was the scariest night of my life. Even in her depression, shadowed in my father's infidelity, I never fathomed that my mom would have attempted suicide or that it would have made me a better person.

Overnight, the home I was familiar with vanished as my mom remained under medical and psychiatric care for months. For months, the walls were tinged melancholy blue; the air, still; the space, barren. For months, the house was ghost quiet, except for the occasional swing of the front door that unveiled a wasteland of furniture and grayed family photos. For months, there was harpish singing to Vietnamese karaoke no more.

In her absence, I felt abandoned and part of me resented her for it. Maybe, because I was impacted into a wall of reality where I couldn't depend on her. My dad couldn't take time off of work so, I had to assume the role of my mom. I found myself responsible for organizing our bills and explaining her condition to family members, since my dad speaks little English. I taught myself to cook warm meals for my dad and me, scouring through her handwritten recipes to find a taste of home again. With time, my anger eased. With every fold of laundry, every whisk of the toilet bowl, every time I found myself filling in her shoes, my gratitude for her grew. I found myself on a quest to live a life my mom would be proud of. My anger and entitlement transformed into empathy and soon, I wasn't merely empathizing; I was experiencing what it meant to be a lone pillar, holding up a shaky roof.

After what seemed like a lifetime, my mom was discharged from the hospital - she had come back from the dead. Although I didn't actually lose my mom, I understand the deepest meanings of grief and inherently, the value of life. Despite the trauma, I wouldn't take my experience back for anything else. Her absence served as an outreach for me to climb out of childhood: I gained an unimaginable resilience, gratitude, and perspective. I thought my mother was immune to the throngs of life, but I've realized that even the strongest of pillars can use reinforcements. Because of this, I try my best to mitigate my parents struggles: after leaving Academic Decathlon at 6:30 PM, I spend my free time tutoring students to help pay for my mother's Hepatitis B medication. It means the world to me, that I understand the people in my life and that they know I care. I even smile and wave at strangers, knowing that even they have troubles, hoping to brighten their day. My experiences in life haven't been the easiest and ironically, I've become the biggest optimist. I face my obstacles with alacrity, knowing that adversity breeds growth, that "this too, shall pass." I'm not the broken girl who found her mother, cold, on the kitchen floor. I'm a pillar of strength.

Word Count: 576

hasdymath 11 / 25  
Nov 22, 2015   #2
hi halokenisis, let me help you out about your essay. overall you have shown inttention what you feel. about the content, you just need to link between one paragraph to the other one.

Also, I suggest you to write, what lesson what readers can get after read one paragraph. So, it is better you give a lesson of life in each paragraph.

furthemore, you should include a conclusion paragraph, since it drives your essay more powerful, and shows to readers what the key of your topic. begin with in conclusion or overall.
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Nov 23, 2015   #3
Tonya, with your permission, I decided to edit your essay for you so that we can keep the focus on you and less on your mother, while also fixing any existing content problems in the essay. Here is what I came up with at 451 words:

I thought she was dead.

Though a petite woman, my mom was stronger than looks gave her credit for. Fleeing war-torn Vietnam at 19, with nothing but straw sandals on her feet, she learned how to survive in America. Despite being diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis B, she insisted on continuing to work to make ends meet. She served as a pillar of strength for our family, cementing the values I strive to live by. The night my dad and I found her on the kitchen floor was the scariest night of my life. Even in her depression, shadowed in my father's infidelity, I never fathomed that my mom would have attempted suicide or that it would have made me a better person.

Overnight, the home I was familiar with vanished as my mom remained under medical and psychiatric care for months. In her absence, I felt abandoned. Part of me resented her for it. Maybe, because I was jolted into a reality where I couldn't depend on her. My dad couldn't take time off from work so I had to assume the role of my mom.

I found myself responsible for our family and their needs since my father spoke very little English. I learned to cook warm meals for my dad and I, scouring through her handwritten recipes to find a taste of home again. Over time, my angerat here eased. With every fold of the laundry, every whisk of the toilet bowl, every time I found myself filling in her shoes, my gratitude for her grew. I found myself on a quest to live a life my mom would be proud of. My anger and entitlement transformed into empathy and soon, I wasn't merely empathizing; I was experiencing what it meant to be a lone pillar, holding up a shaky roof.

After what seemed like a lifetime, my mom was discharged from the hospital - she had come back from the dead. Although I didn't actually lose my mom, I understand the deepest meanings of grief and inherently, the value of life. Despite the trauma, I wouldn't take my experience back for anything else. Her absence served as an outreach for me to climb out of childhood: I gained an unimaginable resilience, gratitude, and perspective. I thought my mother was immune to the throngs of life, but I've realized that even the strongest of pillars can use reinforcements.

My experiences in life haven't been the easiest and ironically, it led me to become an optimist. I face my obstacles knowing that adversity breeds growth and that "this too, shall pass." I'm not the broken girl who found her mother, cold, on the kitchen floor. I'm a pillar of strength.
OP halokenisis 3 / 11 4  
Nov 25, 2015   #4
Hi vangiespen, thank you so much for editing my essay! Your edits definitely showed me how much clearer and concise my essay could be. But, upon reading it, I realized that I wasn't being quite genuine with my essay - it was too objective for so heavy a topic.

Would it be possible for me to privately message you and get feed back on my essay with greater detail?
justivy03 - / 2,366 607  
Nov 25, 2015   #5
Tonya, as I read through your essay, it's as if I was reading a dramatic script for a film, it's full of details, creatively written and full of hope that life will be better in the end.

I believe you have managed to answer the prompt thoroughly and even if your word count is somehow a little too much, this is an easy fix, you just have to create a streamline of the ideas that you would like your essay to follow and eliminate unnecessary phrases or words that are not that important to cover your essay but make sure that the thought and the idea that you would like to convey on your essay is still there.

Looking at it in the format perspective, I believe you were able to come up with a good enough number of paragraph that backs up your essay and make it more appealing to the ruling panel of admissions staff.

Well, that's about it for me, should you need more assistance do let us know, EF will be here.
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Nov 25, 2015   #6
Tonya, unfortunately, there is no way that you can contact me outside of the forum. There are no other communication avenues available to the participants except the open communication of the forum postings. Please don't worry about the kind of review that I will give your paper. I always give insightful opinions and delve in great detail with every essay review that I write. You won't be missing out on anything by posting your essay in this thread.

I definitely agree that the way you wrote the paper was on the serious side. However, I did not make any mention of it before because I thought that this was the voice that you wanted to project in the essay. I am not sure if you can lighten the tone of this essay because of the topic that you have chosen. You can try to lighten it but in my opinion, I think it would be best to come up with a totally new essay in response to the prompt. This time, write the new essay with a lighter tone.

After you have complete the lighter toned essay, compare it with the original heavy toned essay and try to decide for yourself as to which version would best serve the interests of your application. If you can't decide, then post the new essay in this thread and I will be more than happy to review it for you and offer constructive criticism, or even editing if need be, in order to perfect your paper.
OP halokenisis 3 / 11 4  
Nov 25, 2015   #7
I felt it was too sterile. I wrote more,and elaborated on my experience. Though I learned how to take care of my family, I didn't exactly show how I had grown emotionally - at least, enough to convey what I believe is my genuine voice. Also, thank you so much vangiespen and justivy03, I am grateful for feedback! Here is the newer piece,

I thought she was dead.

Though a petite woman, my mom was stronger than looks gave her credit for. Fleeing war-torn Vietnam at 19, with nothing but straw sandals on her feet, she learned how to survive in America. When diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis-B, she insisted on continuing to work to make ends meet. She served as a pillar of strength for our family, cementing the values I strive to live by. The night I found her on the kitchen floor was the scariest night of my life. Even in her depression, shadowed in my father's infidelity, I never fathomed that my mom would have attempted suicide - or that it would have made me a better person.

Overnight, the home I was familiar with vanished as my mom remained under medical and psychiatric care for months. For months, the walls were tinged melancholy blue; the air, still; the space, barren. The house was ghost quiet, except for the occasional swing of the front door that unveiled the wasteland of my new life. I felt recklessly abandoned. Part of me hated her. Maybe because I was jolted into a reality where I couldn't depend on her, where my questions went unanswered. Why didn't she tell me how she felt? Was a family, a daughter, not enough to live for? Was I too much of a burden? Was it my fault?

This angry, broken girl is obviously not the one writing here. Now standing at the opposite end of the spectrum, I look back understanding why I felt so angry. It was easy to blame my mother because I had made her situation about me. That night didn't invalidate all she had done as a mother. What did it take for me to finally grasp this? A little more thought and a change in perspective. I wasn't asking the right questions; instead of wondering what she did wrong, I should have been trying to understand why she did it. And I didn't understand, until I lived the life she lived.

My dad couldn't take time off work, so I had to assume my mother's role. I became responsible for our family and their needs since my father spoke very little English. I taught myself to pay bills and to cook warm meals for my siblings, scouring through our mother's handwritten recipes to find a taste of home again. Over time, my anger eased. Each moment I stepped into her unyielding straw sandals, my gratitude for her grew. With every whisk of the toilet bowl, every load of laundry, every wipe of spilled milk, I felt I was paying my respects to her. I found myself on a quest to live a life my mom would be proud of. My anger and entitlement transformed into understanding and respect, and soon, I wasn't merely empathizing; I was persevering what it meant to be a lone pillar, holding up a shaky roof.

After what seemed a lifetime, my mom was discharged from the hospital - a resurrection from the dead. Although I didn't actually lose my mom, I understand the deepest meanings of grief and inherently, the value of life. Despite the trauma, her absence served as an outreach for me to climb out of childhood; I gained an unimaginable resilience, gratitude, and maturity. I thought my mother was immune to the throes of life but I've realized that even the strongest of pillars may need reinforcement.

The shock of my mother's attempted suicide awoke an affection and empathy inside of me, for the world and for those around me - particularly my family. We can't control the spontaneity of life, but can determine how we think, feel, and react to it. At times my life has been demoralizing, but ironically, it's led me to become an optimist. I value every obstacle, such as this, knowing that adversity breeds growth. Optimism is my choice and I know that a change in perspective is all it takes to learn, grow, and thrive from the harshest of conditions.
justivy03 - / 2,366 607  
Nov 25, 2015   #8
Hi Tonya, I'm glad that you appreciate the suggestions and remarks that we provide here on EF.
We strive to give you insightful remarks and enhancements on your essay to make sure that
your essay corresponds to the prompt and strong enough to earn a spot in the application you are rooting for.

Also, it definitely help if you have an original essay posted and the revised one to follow through, which is exactly what you did,
this is for us to make sure that the work done is in collaboration with great minds and in accordance to the prompt and
the the English language rules.

For future reference, keep your motivation in writing good pieces of essay and reading material, read a lot as this will help in your vocabulary and will eventually help you come up with better essays.
OP halokenisis 3 / 11 4  
Nov 25, 2015   #9
Questions I have about my new draft:
1) Does it need editing?
2) Cutting down, perhaps? It was hard for me to find anything to cut down, besides rephrasing statements.
3) How does it compare to the first draft?
4) Does the conclusion fit, or is it a stretch? If it is, I would be happy to change it, but it was definitely my 'ending on a lighter note' for this essay.
justivy03 - / 2,366 607  
Nov 25, 2015   #10
Tonya, let me help you further.

1) Does it need editing?
Well, it seemed as though you did your own editing on your essay and you didn't really follow the edited version of your essay done by Louisa but I believe her version wis very helpful, specially because it draws out the negativity of the essay.

2) Cutting down, perhaps? It was hard for me to find anything to cut down, besides rephrasing statements.
Cutting down your essay will not help if the focus of the essay os not corresponding to the prompt, so I suggest that you do a thorough proof reading and see which sentences you want to eliminate, I must say that your 2nd paragraph where you wrote a few questions, this is not necessary as we have already established the frame of thought.

3) How does it compare to the first draft?
The second essay or the revision is definitely better and can still be enhanced.

4) Does the conclusion fit, or is it a stretch? If it is, I would be happy to change it, but it was definitely my 'ending on a lighter note' for this essay.

The ending is good, realizations in life is always a good note to end an essay.

I hope this answer you questions and enlightened you a little bit.
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Nov 26, 2015   #11
Tonya, the essay definitely needs editing mostly because you kept the original essay, mixed it with the version I developed for you, then added information to it that only made it longer, but not necessarily better. In my opinion, this essay is even far darker than the first one tha tyou wrote and totally removed the focus on you as the author of the essay.

The only way to cut down on the essay is to remove most of the concentration from your mother, which is what I originally tried to do for you. The new information you put in, the reflection that you indicated, is not really needed in the essay. You are trying to gain the empathy of the reviewer when you should be aiming to earn his admiration instead. You came from a traumatic experience, so instead of blaming yourself for what happened and putting that in the essay, you should be using the event to present the strong side of your personalty instead.

Don't go for the pity factor. Don't try to tug at the heartstrings of the reviewer. Instead, tell the reviewer that where your mother was weak, you were strong and you would never have realized that you had that inner strength unless you committed suicide. So what she did was actually a blessing in disguise for you. It helped you realize that parents will have breakdowns and the child will be called upon to take charge when those situations happen. Which is why you are grateful to your mother for what she did. She allowed you to learn about an aspect of your personality that you did not know before.

At this point, your essay has taken on a more serious and negative turn. The preceding paragraph contains my advice as to how to lighten your essay and end it on a positive note. I hope you can try to make the necessary corrections to the essay so that we can help you further edit it.
OP halokenisis 3 / 11 4  
Nov 26, 2015   #12
Hi vangiespen. I read my essay over and I realized you were absolutely right. I was attempting to show more emotion, and maybe more vulnerability - but it didn't give the intended effect I actually wanted. I've changed the first four paragraphs back to what I originally wrote. But, I edited the last two paragraphs.

After what seemed a lifetime, my mother was discharged from the hospital - a resurrection from the dead. Although I didn't actually lose my mom, I understand the deepest meanings of grief and inherently, the value of life. Despite the trauma, her absence served as an outreach for me to climb out of childhood; I gained an unimaginable resilience, gratitude, and maturity. The shock of my mother's attempted suicide awoke an affection and empathy inside of me, for the world and for those around me - particularly my parents. I thought my mother was immune to the throes of life but I've realized that even the strongest of pillars may need reinforcement. In her weakest moment, I had to be strong. Between the cracks of my family's momentary brokenness, I found a strength that I never could have fathomed before. For this, I am forever grateful.

I can't control the spontaneity of life, but can determine how I think, feel, and react to it. At times my life has been demoralizing, but ironically, it's led me to become an optimist. I face obstacles with alacrity, knowing that adversity can provide me the foundation to thrive in midst of despair(in lieu of 'breeds growth') Optimism is my choice and I know that a change in perspective is all it takes to learn, grow, and thrive from the harshest of conditions. I've recognized that I, too, can be a pillar of strength.

Questions: do I need to rearrange some of the sentences? I found myself doing that while adding these points.
And, is optimism fitting for the conclusion - do I need to justify this assertion more? What are your other thoughts?
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Nov 26, 2015   #13
Hi Tonya, let me help you polish your additional information and paragraphs. By the way, optimism is always a good point to end your essay on. It is something that shows you have learned how to use the negatives in your life in such a manner that you came out of it as an updated version of yourself :-)

After what seemed like a lifetime, my mother was discharged from the hospital - a resurrection from the dead. Although I didn't actually lose my mom, what happened to her helped me to finally understand the deepest meaning of grief and inherently, the value of life. Despite the trauma, her absence served as an opening for me to climb out of childhood; I gained unimaginable resilience, gratitude, and maturity. The shock of my mother's attempted suicide awoke an sense of empathy within me, for the world and for those around me - particularly my parents. I thought my mother was immune to the throes of life but I've realized that even the strongest of pillars may need reinforcement. In her weakest moment, I had to be an additional pillar of strength for her and my family. Between the cracks of my family's momentary brokenness, I found a strength that I never could have fathomed before. For this, I am forever grateful to my mom's life altering action.

I can't control the spontaneity of life, but can determine how I think, feel, and react to it. At times my life has been demoralizing, but ironically, it's led me to become an optimist. I face obstacles with alacrity, knowing that adversity can provide me with the foundation to thrive in the midst of despair . I choose to be an optimist in life , having come to learn from my life experiences that a change in perspective is all it takes to learn, grow, and thrive within the harshest of conditions. I've recognized that I, too, can be a pillar of strength.
OP halokenisis 3 / 11 4  
Nov 27, 2015   #14
Thank you so much vangiespen! Your insight and constructive criticism was really pivotal to me writing this essay the way I wanted to. I was hoping you could also help me with my UC Prompt 1 essay. It's a major contrast from this one and I think it shows more of my personality than my experience. It's quite whimsical but I don't really want to follow a formula essay. I don't mean to hand you all the work but your help has been great and I think it would be a waste if I didn't consult you.

I've done my best to lessen the word count (in combination with my other essay) and I have realized that the intro takes up a lot of space, but I don't want to sacrifice my style and the effect of enthusiasm, especially since my prompt 2 essay is so serious.

So, how can I re-phrase some sentences in a more concise manner? Do I answer the prompt adequately? - please start a new thread, thank you. EF


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