Let Your Life Speak
Looking for examples of past college essays that worked? These are some admissions essays that our officers through were most successful from last year.
Amir Abdunuru Rwegarulira '20
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
I grew up knowing exactly what it felt like to have parents everywhere. Of course, my biological parents - a retired social worker and an economist - had nothing omnipresent about them, it's just that in my immediate neighborhood, every adult automatically became my parent. This ideology was based on a Swahili saying “mkono mmoja hauuguzi mtoto” meaning one hand cannot nurse a child. I learned to respect neighbors the way I do relatives. There were no wedding invitations or funeral ceremonies that one could excuse oneself from attending. Everything was done with the welfare of the community as a whole in mind. As children we could not pass by a woman carrying a bucket of water without helping her, and adults would take the liberty of escorting us all the way home if we were returning late from school. Regardless of age or gender, there was an intangible sense of obligation that unified everyone and its importance was deeply instilled in me from a young age.
My life is still speaking; as I scale the ladder in education, sports and personal life. I continue to see the world through the lenses created by my community and treating everyone I encounter as part of it. Whether it is a primary school student struggling to finish his homework or a friend grieving over a lost loved one, I know that I am responsible not just for my own self but also for the people around me.
Justin Dorosh '20
North Reading, MA
As a child, my family's TV got only 33 channels. It's never good when the Home Shopping Network is considered “good TV.” As a result, my kindergarten entertainment was a Leap Pad rather than Cartoon Network. I used the interactive learning device to memorize all 206 bones in the body as well as every state and its respective capital. I did this not only because my parents thought it was good for me, but because I was interested in the world around me. I sought to understand life beyond the 150 square-foot room I shared with my brother.
Even after we upgraded to basic cable, I found that traditional mental exercises were more fun. I like to think and problem solve. No sitcom gives me the rush of excitement that I get from filling in that last number in a Sudoku puzzle or penciling in the right word to a crossword. Puzzles and riddles are challenging and I embrace challenges.
My curiosity for my Leap Pad is largely responsible for my hands-on approach to doing things. I am a doer rather than a spectator. I'm one who would rather toss a football in the yard than watch the big game on TV. One who would rather work on a project than listen to a presentation. More importantly, I am one who believes in self-education and thinking beyond the classroom. I think that thinking is cool.
Ray Parker '19
All my life I have been surrounded by science, filled with science, covered in science. I grew up with an electron microscope in the house, a holography lab and darkroom in the basement, and a cleanroom next door. While my friends were playing in sandboxes I was playing with dry ice in the sink. It is not impossible that I may have been influenced by this. I grew up with an interesting mix of science and art, which comes from my parents. My mother is a photographer and holographer, as well as an optical engineer; my father is an entrepreneur and the creator of the plasma ball light sculpture. They embrace both science and art and have taught me to embrace both as well. When I was young my mother taught me how to use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and at about the same time my father introduced me to BASIC programming. This laid the seeds for nearly everything that has come after. I kept much of my childlike creativity, and infused it with technology. Nearly all of my school projects have had an extra element that made them much more interesting; a book project on Cities in Flight was a magnetically levitating model of a city, a tectonic map project became a Blender animation, an English class final project was a trio of holograms.
My family has taught me to do interesting things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, and fun.
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Alexander Pan '20
New York, NY
I love listening to music on the subway ride home. Not from my iPod, but from the mariachi band that spreads foot-tapping rhythms from one subway cart to the next. Musical street performers make the routinely, mundane commutes of New York City much more entertaining through catchy beats and uplifting tunes. They make the city a lively place to be in, inspiring me to be that kind of musician too. Sometimes I fantasize about being that musician who cracks out a wicked solo out of nowhere, making everyone in the entire subway cart stop and move to the beat.
I live through that dream by performing “Jam Sessions” with my friends. Each year, we coordinate a small performance in my backyard and we invite our neighbors, friends, and families from the community. Like street performers, we improvise our music and create our own musical scores. For each performance, I pull off a Will Ferrell by doing my jazzy flute solo to impress the girls. We don't play to raise money or support any cause. Just like passionate street performers, we do this for the love of sharing our music with everyone else. Playing music is just like catching senioritis in the spring. It's contagious. I share music to give back to the community what it has given to us. As a musician and a fellow New Yorker, I want to share music and inspire others to do so too.
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Quincey Kras '20
Raised by an architect and an interior designer, I learned at a young age that creativity and imagination are integral parts of life. My dad would let my sister and I sit with him while working, placing a pencil in our hands and pointing at objects for us to draw. I also have fond memories of sitting on piles of fabric swatches “organizing” them for my mom. I grew up believing my purpose in life is to wonder and create. Even after my parents divorced, art was the thread that kept us connected to each other.
At age 14, I moved to Madrid with my mom, step-dad, sister and new baby brother. It was quite a challenge at first--mostly because of the language barrier and my Spanish school. But the experience allowed me to appreciate and absorb a new culture, make new friends and discover strengths in myself that I didn't know I possessed. For the past three years, I have tested my courage, and language skills, and used my love of art as a way to navigate the city--its architecture and museums are especially energizing to me. Conquering my relocation has made me a more inquisitive and adventurous person and will help me to transition to university life. I have grown as a person, and as an artist, and I look forward to continuing on that arc.