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Cecilia A. Oleck - Grand Rapids – Michigan

If there is one lesson that Cecilia has learned, it’s the importance of listening. Her teacher? A doll named Christopher, which she describes as the one item she planned to take to college. Cecilia understands the importance of listening, not only in her personal life but in her professional future as well. She plans to become a journalist. At West Catholic High School, she wrote for the newspaper, tackling topics such as the double standards for athletes and gender stereotypes. She is now a student at Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana.

Christopher - Northwestern University

When I leave for college, among my belongings will be an item not so unusual as it is beloved. Along with the normal objects for daily life will be my most precious possession, my Cabbage Patch doll Christopher. Christopher and I have been virtually inseparable since my first year of life, nearly 18 years ago.

I think he is adorable. He has coarse, brown hair made of yarn, a smooth plastic face and warm brown eyes. He wears a never-fading smile and has a soft body. Christopher is dressed in blue jeans and a blue and white striped shirt.

This doll has been a great comfort to me throughout the trials of my life. I remember when I was younger and got upset about something, I would always get Christopher and trace his face with my fingers. His face is cool and smooth and I was always relaxed by the simple motion. I find myself using this calming technique to this day.

Christopher has also seen his share of hardships. In two unrelated yet unfortunate accidents, he lost a leg and then an arm, both of which my mom lovingly sewed back on. He has also suffered from a head wound, a crack in the skull, from a careless cousin slamming him against a headboard. My dad acted as a surgeon for this emergency and soon Christopher was back on his feet. The scar from that operation is still visible in the form of glue. While some might think that this detracts from Christopher’s physical beauty, I feel it adds to his character.

Christopher has been present for all the major milestones in my life, as well as for the monotony of daily life. We have traveled to many different places together. We have visited family in New Jersey, New York and Tennessee, vacationed in Florida, Texas, Mexico and Mackinaw Island. We’ve been to summer camps together and we also were able to explore the western part of the United States with 30 of my classmates. I did have to leave Christopher at home when I went on a mission trip to Costa Rica this past summer. I was worried that he might not survive the trip and I was not willing to risk losing him.

Sometimes I find myself wondering why I would form such a strong attachment for an inanimate object, as I am not a very materialistic person. I honestly cannot answer that question. As I reflect on all that has happened to me in my young life, I realize that this simple doll has helped me to learn some valuable lessons. It is always nice to know that I have someone who will be there no matter what I do. I remember when I was younger. I would talk to Christopher and tell him everything. He would do nothing more than sit there smiling at me. He is not human, so he was never shocked at my revelations and he never scolded me or offered me advice. He just listened.

It has taken me 18 years to begin to understand the concept of just listening. It was one of the healthiest things for me to be able to vent my frustrations or share my excitements without being interrupted. I see now how the people that I am involved with need that as well. I have discovered that I do not need to always talk to make an impact but by listening to a person I may help someone the most.

Christopher’s unusualness comes from everything he has been through. I think the most important thing that I have realized from having Christopher is to keep and cherish the reminders of my childhood with me for the rest of my life. There is an innocence and beauty to children that many people seem to lose as they become adults. I am ready to take on more responsibilities in my life and I do not shrink from my independence and from growing up, but I still want to keep some of those childlike qualities alive inside of me. Every time I look at Christopher I am reminded of that.

Why This Essay Succeeded

Who says an influential person has to be human? Cecilia redefines the question so that it fits her own experience. This is a very creative approach and works not because we are surprised to learn that Christopher is a doll but because Cecilia is able to convince us why this doll has been so significant.

Through her essay, Cecilia explains how Christopher has been the one constant in her life and has served as a source of strength and comfort. The ability to recognize and convey this idea in her essay shows her ability to think and examine. A good essay is a synthesis of both writing and analytical abilities.

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