Class of 2023 shares their personal statements
April 20, 2023
As seniors prepare to graduate and transition into college, many are simultaneously reminiscing on memories and leaving advice for future graduates. This includes advice about the college admissions process. One essential part of the application process is the personal statement, an essay meant to portrays the applicant’s personality and values to the college admissions office. Some members of the class of 2023 have shared their personal statements below, as examples for rising Seniors.
Untitled by Anita Buchanan
Trigger Warning: This essay contains references to disordered eating. If you or someone you care about is struggling with an eating disorder, you can text or call the National Eating Disorder Helpline at (800) 931-2237.
The taste of diet coke resides on the girl’s tongue as she swallows the lavish, water-based, zero calorie formula. The carbonation burns her throat as she gazes downwards at the mirror that reflects a tarnished reflection of imperfection. Glancing, from toe to eyes, at the girl that she doesn’t even recognize anymore. The girl that once enjoyed the sharp taste of white bread, the girl that enjoyed working out for the purpose of becoming stronger, the girl whose favorite holiday was Thanksgiving, the girl whose parents were proud of her.
The overtaking of vanity compels the girl’s mind as her taste buds are starved for a warm hug from a Twinkie. The soft, cloud-like cake filled with heaven in a white icing form overpowers the girl’s mind as the computer stares back, waiting for a response from question three.
Unfortunately the limiting of carbohydrates and lipids aren’t giving her what she wants anymore, so, naturally, she turns her back on her support system while shifting towards substances, substances that made her feel less of what she was. The girl is convinced that hunger is a social construct that she can destroy as an offensive play from societal norms. As if a feminist destroying the patriarchy or reformers protesting unlawful legislation.
The serene weightlessness of the impending black hole of self defamation through “the most pivotal” years of her life, determining her life trajectory, descends into darkness. The girl finds herself grasping the white toilet bowl as her once shiny, bouncy, lively hair is layered in vomit. The plastered locks drape down to the floor, possessing little white pills. White resembling purity, Twinkie fluff, white bread, and, now, a reminder of the girl’s worst nightmare. However, at the time, the nightmare was nothing but a dream. One hand loosely clutches the bottle separating her between life and death. On the other hand, the index and middle finger are seemingly attracted to one another. Sweat marks its territory on her face. Her face that was never good enough. Her face that has had life drowned out of her. Her face that reflects the hell she has been through as just a teenage girl.
The feeling of never being enough is expressed as a stage in life that everyone goes through. Just a phase, she tells herself. Just a phase. Just a phase. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is borderline impossible due to the straining weights and obstacles resisting her tiresome body. But, everyone goes through this phase, right?
The-Girl-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named may or may not be real, but she inhabits the struggles of teenage girls everywhere. She reached through the mirror of forgiveness and pulled out her new way of life. The once illusive surface stares back with the flash of a smile and, finally, a sense of pride. Pride in her body. Pride in her face. Pride in herself.
She has realized the value of life. The value of school and learning. The value of food and beverages. The value of her life. However, some are not as fortunate.
The girl has looked for aid through her peers. Sharing her personal anecdote has allowed for others to find comfort in each of their unique situations. Speaking to parents who lost their children at the hands of the most devastating murder to reestablish her quality of life and mourn for lost lives. Attending walks. Enjoying Twinkies and Diet Coke. Holding fundraisers. Anything that fosters awareness with her limited resources.
The difference may seem minuscule in the public eye, yet the difference within herself is quite the contrary. Allowing her to, finally, understand and meet herself for the first time, allowing the sweet embrace of the handshake to fill the empty void of darkness and sublimate it into warmth and tranquility. Tranquility and warmth that she distributes to wounded, disheartened others as her objective.
And she isn’t done yet.
In Defense of Holden Caulfield by Riley Rubio
Having grown up reading just about everything I could get my hands on, I realized that I grew to hate “the classics.” Harsh, I know, but I have always found it so annoying that there are some authors and novels that are put on such high pedestals when they probably don’t deserve as much praise as they get.
After complaining my way through The Lord of the Flies, Jane Eyre, and almost all of Shakespeare’s work, you could imagine my absolute lack of enthusiasm when I found out we were reading The Catcher in the Rye in my sophomore English class. Despite my teacher’s insistence that I would love it, that I would somehow “find myself” in the main character, I was still resistant and cynical in my views on the novel as a whole. I am notorious for disliking the protagonist of just about any book I read, but particularly your standard “classic lit” main character that every high school student has analyzed to death without a single new idea about them since their novels have been part of the standard curriculum. With this in mind, it only makes my love of Holden Caulfield all that much more surprising. Trust me, I was probably the most shocked by this revelation, considering I’d spent every class leading up to the start of the novel making snide remarks to my peers about how much Holden was going to suck. Sure, I wasn’t too far off in my assessment of him, my classmates really did dislike him and found him insufferable, but I found myself trying to defend him in any way that I could during group discussions. Whether it was about negative comments someone made about his attitude, his impulsivity, or his inability to let go of the past, I was there to rebut them with a swift psychoanalysis of why Holden was the way he was. It wasn’t until one of the girls in my class asked me why I was so dead set on advocating for Holden that I finally realized why I liked his character so much: I really did see myself in him. We both have very similar life experiences that shaped our views about the world, making us heavily critical cynics in the process. By defending Holden, I was subconsciously defending myself from the criticism I felt had been placed on me. By analyzing him, I was able to discover and accept things about myself that I had never wanted to explore in the first place because I was worried about what I would learn about myself as a person.
With this new revelation in mind, I began looking to other fictional characters I’d latched onto over the years, such as Matilda Wormwood, Auggie Pullman, Scout Finch, and Ponyboy Curtis just to name a few. I began racking my brain for an answer as to why it was these characters in particular, what it was about this group of weirdos— Wait. “Weirdos.” That was when it hit me. They were all characters who were perceived as odd by those around them, and I found that this had resonated with me, even as a young kid. This was the first time I really realized why literature had always been so important to me: It gave me a way to be myself and feel less alone. I’ve always felt different from my peers, even more so in recent years, but books have always given me the chance to connect with the best version of myself that I can then convey to others.
Litmus Test by Bridget McLaughlin
In the science lab, a litmus test is the process used to determine the alkalinity or acidity in a solution. The term is now widely used as an idiom for anything that is a decisive indicator of a person’s true nature. In politics specifically, a litmus test can be a targeted question used to identify the actual character of a candidate and is often the ultimate factor in determining electoral success or failure. In consideration of acceptance or rejection, this essay is asking what makes me different from the thousands of other highly qualified applicants. This essay is my litmus test.
My resume showcases personal interests and future potential, but to be honest, I do my best work in person. I like meeting people, engaging in conversation, and I love a microphone. High school helped cultivate those skills and focus my interests. Talented teachers helped me realize a passion for government, law and politics. Using those subjects as guideposts, I hope to help you, the reader, better understand me, the applicant.
The United States of America became independent of Britain more than 225 years ago, securing the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. As a result, the Constitution of the United States was created; an imperfect, but living document subject to change. As the Preamble to the Constitution states, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…” It serves as a reminder that we are also imperfect, but can always change for the betterment of society and self.
The First Amendment to the US Constitution gives people the freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly, and the right to petition the Government, but many of us forfeit these freedoms. Like most teens, I felt it was more important to please others and be in the popular crowd rather than respect my own opinions. It was destructive to mute my voice, silent even while speaking. Gleaning from the Constitution, I found the courage to make some changes. Establishing my independence was not the popular choice, but it allowed me to do what was necessary for my personal good. I became energized as my authentic self. I gravitated to more like- minded and goal-driven peers who were drawn to my high frequency instead of repelled by it. Teachers and faculty began to take note, promoting my ambition, genial nature and public speaking skills as an ambassador of the school. Liberty provided my pursuit of happiness.
Article IV of the Constitution addresses States’ powers. How I plan to govern my life as an individual is my own Article IV. As the younger of two children, my brother set a lofty matriculation precedent. I felt pride and admiration for his academic and athletic success at a prestigious university, yet overwhelmed with the expectation of compliance to his measures. I regarded his victory as the path to mine. A leader on my high school crew team, I rationalized that my success in the sport would lead to the same achievements as my brother. Following his dream was an exercise in futility and my performance went from the top of the team to the bottom. Failure led to uncomfortable self-examination. I became aware of the need to respect and accept the actions of others, as well as, accept myself. I began to pursue personal goals, not accolades, and worked to find my place again as a leader both on and off the water. Leading, instead of following, is my own state power.
As I continue to grow and learn, I will face adversities that challenge the articles of my constitution, lead to amendments, and ultimately pave the way to a more perfect union of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The 26th Amendment gives citizens over the age of 18 the right to vote. I hope I can count on yours.
The Effect of an Influence by Mykhia Pursley
Though I am perceived as a good student, to the surprise of many I have experienced my share of delinquency. As a toddler, I wasn’t the most caring. I bit and hit other kids, and did what I pleased. I don’t have much recollection of these outbursts, but a vivid memory of breaking the last straw was when I bit a classmate at my preschool, counting as my third kid of that week.
“I’m sorry ma’am, but we are tired of sending children home with bite marks and explaining to parents why their child had a bad day.” This is what my mother recalls when I had to switch schools. At that time my mother was also dealing with the soon-to-end pregnancy of my first little brother, so to have this problem from her eldest was already piling on the stress. While awaiting the birth of my first little brother, Marcol, came the solution to her problems. When I was called to meet my baby brother, I recall entering the room to see him resting in the incubator. I sat with my mom in the hospital bed so that I could hold him. From this moment in time, my mother said my whole attitude changed. I became more soft and caring trying to be the best big sister I could be, the person people know today as Mykhia.
This transformation continued with the help of my second youngest brother, Jayden, who has always been the type of person to think about others before himself. He tends to compliment people, share what he has, and isn’t afraid to smile and say,” Hello!” To passersby. One of the things that he has done that I am thankful for is when I came home from school and found a gift on my bed, a pink squid hat. Seeing my brother peeking from his room door I asked him, “Boogie, is this your hat?”
He walks closer to me with a smile on his face when he says, “No, it’s yours, I’ve been saving my treasure box points to get you this hat, I thought you would like it!” I was surprised by this answer. Though I am used to us siblings being nice to each other, this immediate kindness made me reevaluate my mindset of being kind. To think that someone could be thinking of you, and taking the time out of their day to do something for you was not an eye-opener that I was expecting from my fourteen-year-old brother.
Of course, I know of gratefulness, but the idea of just being kind just because is something so simple that I realized I didn’t even take the chance to enhance this lesson. Since that moment, I have tried to be kind just for being kind. Situations where I have attempted this, have made little moments of my day more optimistic. Seeing as I have gotten reactions of making someone’s day by just asking how they are doing or remembering small details about a person, has made me more aware of others’ feelings. Not in any way to say that I can be “cold-hearted”, but the concept has reevaluated how I think my actions affect others.
When I think of small steps of kindness, I try to do them just because. What harm can saying good morning to a fellow classmate in the halls do? The help of my brothers, who probably wasn’t intending to give me a life lesson just from their pure actions, has caused me to be a better person. My little acts of kindness have motivated me to communicate better with others and have more confidence when trying something new. From a simple gift like a squid hat (or a major one such as a sibling), a portion of a person’s life can change for the better.
A Dream by Anonymous
Picture this. You’re traipsing through some wild jungle in the middle of nowhere, clearing away brush with your sword, when you come across an ancient structure. You enter, pass through several intricate booby traps, leap over a few snake pits, swing over a massive ravine. Your basic Tuesday. Finally, you stumble into a small chamber. A sparkle catches the corner of your eye, and you approach an altar in the center of the room. Atop the altar sits the treasure worth a lifetime of tracking, researching, and hunting. You’ve done it. You’ve found Nemo.
Once at a family reunion, awkward-tweenager me made a commitment to being an optimist. My older cousin, in her twenties and far wiser than I, reacted with the much-recounted rebuttal, “don’t be an optimist! It’s the worst thing you can do! You’ll be disappointed your whole life!” For years, this story has been a source of mockery from my family, but it has also been my fuel. I thrive on the desire to prove people wrong, so this was something I was more than willing to challenge.
And I Did
Every once in a while, I buy myself a plant. The sad thing about this is that every plant I bring home is condemned to about 2 weeks of suffering before I inevitably kill it. I try so hard to take care of them all, but blame it on my thumb. I just cannot seem to do anything right when it comes to succulents, orchids, or pineapple plants. But as heartwrenching as it is to have to throw out my potted friends, I always buy another. Maybe I’m a plant-sadist by nature, but I much prefer to think that each new bundle of leaves is an opportunity for me to grow (in more ways than one). Today, I can proudly say that my jade plant, now about 6 months on my windowsill, is thriving. All because I kept buying plants, holding onto the hope that this one might live, like a rope over the edge of a cliff.
Unfortunately, my life is not an archaeology-action movie. I am not Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, or Rick O’Connell. I am chasing no holy grail, ark of the covenant, mysterious flower, ancient pharaoh, or what have you. At the start of my life, this was a fact that both bored and deeply saddened me. But now, after 17 long and arduous years, I am old and wise (wink). I have found my motive, my “why,” my Disney origin story. The thing that gets me up every day is the desire to chase my own treasure. Although I am sure the ark of the covenant is out there somewhere, waiting to be found, I am not at a point in my life where searching for it is a feasible option. Instead, I identify the treasure in my real life, and I chase it.
Often, this treasure is positivity, because, at times, the world seems dark and cold and lonely. My coping mechanism is to clear away the “brush” (violence, inequality, lack of human decency, etc.) and to track down the treasure, be it simply a video of someone rescuing a stray dog, or watching people help one another in times of tragedy. Much to my chagrin, this is a very difficult task! But as I said before, I thrive on challenges. Give me the snakes, the dark chasms, the deadly spiders, and the dusty, somewhat sentient skeletons. I want my gold. And I believe, with every ounce of my being, that it is out there for the finding. So until I come of the age when I can go on death-defying archaeological expeditions (because the movies are 100% realistic- wink), I’ll just search for my own holy grail.