This summer, the UF Admissions Office identified a few of the exceptional essays written by newly enrolled UF students (with their permission, of course). The assortment that follows offers a glimpse into the diverse backgrounds and experiences, as well as the writing talents, of our newest Gators. Remember that each of these sample essays is just that—a sample that may serve as some inspiration.
With such adversity present in my small home, I never expected my mother to become pregnant, especially 17 years after her last child.
Being away from home had its benefits. Escaping limiting precedences conjured a short–felt freedom from reality. I was visiting New York with a friend, who brought me along free of charge. It allowed me to flee from a financially struggling single mother who had a tendency of hindering my opportunities through her inability of providing much for her children. Leaving the spirited city was difficult, however, my life had taken a monumental spiral of unfortunate events.
My phone rang, and as I read “Mom” displayed across the screen, I felt a rush of excitement to inform her about my last few moments in New York. She took me by utter surprise when she immediately blurted, “Estoy embarazada.” I foresaw all the additional hardship that would soon loom over us due to her newfound pregnancy. “Felicitaciones, mama,” was all I could choke out. I couldn’t find the courage to display my consternation before my friend. I wallowed in my own hysteria, wondering: how will we afford a baby with my mom’s low-paying job?
Soon after, my baby sister, April, has been nothing but a delight. Our financial situation, however, was not as gratifying. My mother was forced to leave her job as a nighttime newspaper carrier. Her only way to ensure our survival was to apply for welfare and food stamps. My world felt smaller than ever, since this occurred during my junior year. I was at the top of my class, involved in extracurriculars and sports; however, this irreversible burden cost me the ability to participate in clubs with dues too expensive to afford.
I never felt entitled to admit defeat. I found the inner strength I possessed in order to quell any desires that my adolescence urged me to feel. Maybe all too quickly, I transitioned into adulthood and the working world, helping my mother pay our bills and fixating my attention on my studies.
After my sister was born, I was thrown into the realization that what my future holds depends on my lasting decisions. I became aware of the importance of relying on one’s self and continued my trek towards an education that no one in my family had yet achieved. Adversity has given rise to my unwavering persistence and confidence through its harsh lesson that in order to succeed, one must learn from what they endure, and move forward with the anticipation that such events will be around the corner.
Thanks to Twitter, I found Kalpana Khadka. She is just one of hundreds of girls worldwide that have been given the opportunity that so many of us take for granted; to be educated and graduate from a secondary school. While checking my Twitter feed during freshman year, one tweet led me to this extraordinary teenager. Reading about She’s the First (STF), an organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for girls’ education globally, inspired my friends and I to open a chapter at our school. After administration approved our club, getting students involved proved more difficult. To grasp our classmates’ attention we partnered with another club, Girl Up, to create our Mavies fundraiser. Our version of the Academy Awards is named after our mascot, the Maverick, and allows students,to vote for fellow classmates in several fun categories. All money raised goes right back to girls’,education. Planning and promoting this event was very challenging. Both clubs worked together to get the job done. As Secretary of STF, I organized committees to create ballots, count votes, arrange food, and write the show’s script. How did we promote this fundraiser? We went back to where it all began: Twitter! Through SnapChat, Instagram, and Twitter we got the word out about the Mavies. The 1st Annual Mavies was a success raising an impressive $950. With more student interest, we doubled this amount the following year. Our show raised money for girls’ education and brought recognition to STF. As a result, our club membership has grown and the Mavies has become a Maverick tradition. So who is this girl, Kalpana? She’s a bright young student from Nepal. With the money raised, our chapter is sponsoring her education. Recently we received a letter from Kalpana. She wrote about her studies and aspirations. It was so inspiring to read her letter and see our dedication making a difference in one girl’s life. Kalpana’s dream of higher education is possible with the help of our school community. Her eagerness to learn and desire for a career made me realize how lucky I am. Students in our country often take education for granted. During stressful, late nights spent studying I often thought, “I wish I didn’t have to go to school tomorrow.” In reality, many girls around the world would love to be in my position. My experience with STF has been so gratifying. I hope to continue working towards improving girls’ education globally by joining the STF chapter at the University of Florida.
At first glance, I thought searching my past for a story that can effectively describe who I really am would have been simple. However, after tedious rejoicing and constant debating with myself, I came to the conclusion that it was not going to be as effortless as I originally thought. Prior to my attempt of enlightening you on who I think I am, I want to share a quote by Chuck Palahnuik with you, “I hate how I don’t feel real enough unless people are watching me.”
Honestly, my story is not one of great nobility, unprecedented glory, or even gratification of who I am. Despite this, I know my story tells more truth about my character than anything else, which is why I decided to tell you this instead of one that makes me seem as if I am some flawless human being. My revelation of character begins with a simple hobby of mine: weightlifting. Who would have ever thought that a basic way of staying fit and strengthening my body would result in a lifealtering story that no one would ever know about until now? You see, my weightlifting career began as a small 135lb. freshman kid who just wanted to make a varsity team, but is now a somewhat epic tale that has forged an athlete with three school records, a FHSAA state record, three Florida Weightlifting Federation state records, strongest pound for pound Saint Cloud High lifter of all time, Pan American Games runner-up, etc. I could continue, but I spend more time contemplating the future than reminiscing in the past. My experience began one night during a very hard training cycle prior to a state competition my junior year. It was late, around 1 in the morning, and I found myself sitting alone on an ancient, slightly broken chair in between squat sets at 385lbs. concluding my second session of the day. As I found myself drifting in and out of sleep in between sets, I ground through the training telling myself it would all be worth it! The neverending training, arduous mental and physical breakdowns would end in a gold around my neck. I sometimes confused my sweat with tears of pain in my joints and muscles. This night is not what revealed who I am. It was the state competition that ended in my loss. I did not win that meet, I had gotten second place. Afterwards, I thought back to that night. I did not stop the training; I used it to motivate myself further. Ultimately, this story does not describe myself; It describes who I think I am. Accept me and help me further figure out who I will become.
Growing up I believed that I would live in the same house and the same neighborhood until I went off to college. College it seemed, was like initiation into the real world and I was happy to wait until it was my time. “Home of the heroes.” When driving into Pueblo, Colorado this is the phrase that people see proudly displayed defining the town that I grew up in, the town I learned to call home, and the town that three years ago, on June 13th, I left. Six months earlier my parents asked all of us if we wanted to move to the Gulf Coast and though I was less than excited about the idea, I didn’t want to be the only reason we stayed. My friends were here and the soccer team that I had worked so hard to be captain of was here, this was where I was supposed to live my life. Why would we move? When we arrived in our new city I tried to make it work. It seemed that my family had no problem fitting in, yet I faltered. I am not a shy person, I love meeting new people but it seemed that my new home wasn’t like home at all. Every day I went through the motions: meetings, school, practice, homework. I knew that something had to change. My struggle was that I didn’t believe that this was my home. I did not feel like this was where I was supposed to be spending my high school years.
I believed that the town you grew up in was where you were supposed to stay, until college. I believed college was the stepping stone from childhood to adulthood. My belief of how I was supposed to grow up was completely redefined. I knew that I couldn’t continue down the road that I was currently on. My solution was to throw myself into everything I could think of. I joined the Cross-Country team, the Debate team, and every extracurricular in JROTC. Slowly, this strange town began to feel like home.
Until the age of 15 I didn’t know many people who had moved away from their childhood homes. Everyone that I knew growing up were the people I thought I would go to high school with. I believed people were meant to stay in one place until they knew who they were and who they wanted to be, which I believed happened upon graduating high school. However; when I moved from Colorado to Florida I realized that this wasn’t true at all. Moving has made me the person that I am and has helped me to decide on the person I want to be and given the opportunity I would choose to move again. Although I have no idea what my future holds, I know I will succeed wherever I am, because I’ve had this experience.