What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.


Monday, April 28, 2008

College Entrance Essay

After several pleading emails from the faithful few, I went to my personal files and retrieved my old college entrance essay which is now caked yellow with a dried coffee stain. My writing bears the mark of youth and literary inexperience. It also demonstrates a number of significant stylistic faux pas that defined the creativity of my adolescence. Still, it got me where I needed to go, so I guess I can't complain too strongly.

I look at this tome the same way I view the London Bridge: it is a relic of a bygone era, now dug up and placed haphazardly in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. This piece was never intended for the fun-loving FCN reader, but was written with a bearded admissions officer in mind, for the kindly octogenarian (or at least a septuagenarian) who dresses up like Santa and rings his bell outside Wal-Mart. If you find it funny, that's excellent. I, however, will always view the following as a personal testimonial, a plea for help in a dark educational world and a manifesto academia, albeit laced with white lies.

Being an underprivileged minority youth is never easy, but when it is compounded by abandonment, addiction and abuse - the three As of my childhood - it can be the death knell for academic achievement, the two As of my future.

For many, the poverty line is an unrealistic basement, a floor you read about in Dickens but never have to experience. The concepts of subsistent wages and hunger so intense that it causes physical pain are foreign to the American experience and, indeed, to most in our wealthy nation. But for my father and his father before him, it was a day-to-day reality.

My grandfather came to this country looking for opportunity. Instead he found the bottom of a bottle and alcohol consumed his marriage, his job and, eventually, his life. He died alone and forgotten somewhere in New York State, but left a male heir to carry on his name and, hopefully, improve that name's reputation.

My father tried his best with the cards he had been dealt. He stayed away from the bottle, but married a twice divorced home wrecker whose affinity for Amphetamines and cocaine was exceeded only by her penchant for wild men. Seven children were born from this crazed union; six of them had major birth defects.

People on the outside looking in would have said that I was the "normal" one in our family. But I wasn't normal. A learning disability landed me in a special education classes that did little to direct my focus. My father, perhaps angry with the state of his life, took out his frustrations on me and his regular abuse continues to be a dark spot in my memory.

In spite of troubles on the home front - or maybe because of them - I strove harder in school. I overcame my disability and started a charitable foundation for others in my position. I volunteered in my community and led successful campaigns for three of my siblings to have surgery for their birth defects. Two of them survived their operation and began successful academic careers.

The summer before I was to begin my freshman year of high school, a fire burned down my family's house and we were forced out onto the street. Police suspected arson and my mother made disparaging comments about an ex-lover who may have had a motive. My father died in the flames of smoke inhalation. He was too young.

At fourteen, I was the de facto man in the family. I lied about my age to get a job at McDonald's and found part time work as a ditch digger for the city sewage department. I struggled to balance the responsibilities of adulthood with those of high school, but somehow managed to cope.

When I lost my left leg to a drunk driver in a freak car accident, I knew my life would become more difficult. We did not have the resources to get a prosthetic limb, so I fashioned a support out of a piece of driftwood I found at my sewer job and used bailing wire to attach it to my stump. I lifted the spirits of my brothers and sisters by telling them I was a pirate and to this day my youngest sister Beth-Ann still believes me.

Graduation was bitter-sweet. For my mother it opened up old wounds and her wailing shrieks could be heard above the motivational message I delivered as Student-Body President. My five surviving deformed siblings sat in the front row and smiled. They were proud of their brother and his accomplishments in the face of adversity.

No one in my family has ever gone to college. My mother, like my grandmother, was forced to quit school in the tenth grade because of a pregnancy, one of many that would haunt her teenage years. My father chose factory work instead of higher education, but was forced into less lucrative labor after he lost two important fingers on his right hand.

I want to be the first one to take the leap and strive for self improvement. I am living proof that a checkered past does not spell the end of academic achievement. Intelligence is not limited by circumstances and, indeed, can be nurtured and grown through difficulty.

If accepted to this University, I will continue my work with charitable and community organizations to open doors for others like me. I will refuse to renege on the promises I made my dieing father and always strive to be the best, no matter what the challenge. I may limp onto your campus, but I bring a full compliment of mental energy that more than compensates for my physical deficiencies.

I see higher education as the proving ground for those last two As and as a preparation for life for a young man who has already seen a lot of it.

4 comments:

Tim said...

That was sidesplittingly ridiculous. I'm laughing out loud instead of studying for my exam tomorrow. And it's a good essay, but I refuse to believe you actually submitted it; the bit about loosing your leg was just too much.

big mo said...

oh man. i love this. if i were to apply for colleges tomorrow...

unfortunately.... i'm already in college.

thanks for posting this guys, you make me smile.

mumble's the word said...

Brilliant! I ought to be studying, just like tim, but this was worth it.

Mrs. L said...

Direct quote from your mother, "Don't believe everything you read on FCN."