Common Application Essay
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.
I shouldn’t be here right now. My story should have been one of glamour, riches, and the good life. Fifteen years ago, had my parents chosen a different path, this scenario would ring true for me. At the time, my father was a rising journalist in Senegal, propelled by his charisma, and eloquence. My mother had a wonderful job working in her brother’s accounting firm.
However, as our family grew, my parents sought a greater meaning for themselves and their children. My mother and father contemplated the prospects of leaving Senegal for a better place. Concern for the futures of my brother and me and the fear of capping our potential was at the forefront of their minds. Against the wishes of both sides of our family, my family and I moved to this unknown place, guided and inspired only by the hope of a better future.
The initial move to the US was not so difficult. We lived in New York City for a few months, surrounded by some friends and family who had also left Senegal for America. We lived comfortably, as my parents had sold their beach-side home for us to move to the United States. As my parents planned out their next move, my uncles encouraged my father to begin driving a taxi and pushed my mother to work in a hair braiding salon. That was simply what the Senegalese immigrants did. It guaranteed steady income and would allow us to continue living comfortably and surrounded by people we knew in a land that we did not know. Their ideas made perfect sense. But, again, my parents said no.
Steadfast in their belief in education and the pursuit of knowledge, my parents refused. How could they set an example for their children by settling for this life and not chasing after the opportunities for scholarship that this country presented? Holding true to this notion, we eventually settled in Lafayette, Louisiana so that my father could continue his studies. It was the few places that he could study with his immigrant status.
I am so thankful that I do not remember the full extent of our suffering during these years. My mother and father always shielded us from the rough circumstances of our lives. We never had any idea that some paperwork had gone missing and that our family was at risk for deportation. When nights were cold and our housing was ill equipped to keep us warm, my parents bundled us up, put socks on our hands, and pretended that we were monsters. We were always well fed, but I am not so sure that my mother and father could say the same.
Fast forward to the present, our lives back then are just stories to tell. My father has taught French at a local college for the past ten years and our family has grown. We have bought a house and we have a car on the driveway. Life isn’t perfect by any means, but I am aware of the different ways my life could have been shaped for the worse had a few circumstances been different. My story isn’t particularly compelling or unique. Millions of others have this story. I am aware of the numerous others who have been in the exact same situation as my family and me and are still struggling to overcome the challenges. I think of the heartbreaking refugee crisis going on today.
While I bask in the American dream, far too many others continue to live in the shadows.
I have a duty to my family and the others who still struggle to find the success and happiness that we all so dearly strive for. I would never replace the hardships that confronted my family. Rather I embrace these experiences and those who have defined me, shaped my dreams, and inspired me to pay it forward and make a difference.
Yale Supplement Essay
Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world. Please write the quotation, title and author at the beginning of your essay.
Self-fulfillment, in my opinion, is the most impressive achievement that one can earn. Knowing that I have pursued my passions and left my mark on the world far surpassed any degrees or other merits that I could earn.
I come from a unique background and I have seen the entire spectrum of wealth, from highest privilege to extreme poverty. I have also lived in different situations around the world and am so affected and inspired by what I have seen. I fundamentally believe that we have some barriers standing in the way of more aggressive poverty for humanity. Here in our country, the wage gap, gender discrimination, wealth disparities, disenfranchisement, and systemic racism are huge impediments to our advancement as a nation. On a global standpoint, we still deal with extreme poverty, religious tensions, and corruption from leaders. Far too many people around the world are set up for failure from the beginning, while those of us who bask in privilege are silent. I know that it will be impossible for these issues to be eradicated in a generation, let alone by me. However, I cannot let these odds stop me. I must do my part.
By attending college, I will be part of the 1% luckiest people in the world. I am not sure what my contribution will be, but I am certain that the seeds of my revolution have been planted and will be nurtured during these next few years. I look forward to the experiences that will allow me to discover my output for change. It seems reasonable for me to reach a point in life where I will be well equipped and have adequate resources to pursue my passions, whether it is through social entrepreneurship or nonprofit organizations. Aside from my passions, I have deep interests and skill in STEM. I am so intrigued by the human body and medicine. I look forward to the next frontiers in science and engineering. I am excited for the new generation of scientists and engineers to discover the relationship between to mind and brain and how this breakthrough can shape science and treatment of diseases. This is just one of the many breakthroughs in science that I foresee, hopefully, during my lifetime. Perhaps, as a physician or researcher, I will be involved in this progress. I firmly believe, however, that humanity can progress and discover more effectively once we are united as a more compassionate, just, knowledgeable, and educated people.
Education must be a possibility for all citizens of the world. Systemic racism must not make it easier for the felon John to get a job compared to Jamaal with a clean record. One in nine people in the world should not live in extreme poverty and hunger. We must pick our battles and right these wrongs. “Since the world has existed, there has been injustice. There is just no question that there is more obligation that those who have should give to those who have nothing.” –Audrey Hepburn
Standardized Test Scores:
- ACT Composite: 33
- English: 34
- Math: 33
- Reading: 32
- Science: 33
AP Test Scores:
- Not taken
School Record and Class Ranking:
- Cumulative Rank: Not provided/unranked
- Cumulative GPA:
Extracurriculars, Leadership and Involvement:
Leadership and Involvement:
- MOSTEC MIT Online Science, Technology, Engineering Community 2015-2016
- Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership (HOBY) Community Leadership Workshop 2015 Organizer and Director
- Tennessee School Board Association Student Congress on Policies in Education Conference 2015
- Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership (HOBY) Tennessee Alumni Association Vice President
- Tennessee Governor’s School for the Emerging Technologies 2014
- Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership (HOBY) State Conference 2014
- Tennessee Math Teachers Association State Competition
- Union University Creative Writing Workshop and Competition 2014
- Tennessee School Board Association Student Congress on Policies in Education Conference 2014
- University of Tennessee at Martin Youth Writer’s Conference 2012
- National Campaign to Stop Violence Do the Write Thing Ambassador-2012
- Lane College STEM Summer Program 2010-2011
- Madison Academic Magnet High School National Honor Society 2014-2016 (President)
- Madison Academic Magnet High School Mu Alpha Theta 2014-2016 (President)
- Madison Academic Magnet High School Excel Club 2014-2015
- National Junior Classical League (Latin Honor Society) 2012- 2015 (Vice-President)
- Madison Academic Magnet High School Chess Club 2012-2014
- Tri-M Musical Honor Society 2012- 2014
- Madison Academic Magnet High School International Club 2012-2015
- Madison Academic Magnet High School Band and Orchestra 2012-2013