College Admission Essays :
Emanuel Pleitez - El Sereno – California
In his essay, Emanuel appreciates the view from the top of a hill, where
he goes to exercise and think. He has had a lot to balance in his life.
At Woodrow Wilson High School, he was the captain of five varsity
athletic teams and earned 19 varsity letters. A first-generation college
student, he was raised by his single mother, an immigrant from Mexico.
His efforts have resulted in him not only getting into his dream college
but also winning almost $30,000 in merit-based scholarships. Emanuel
hopes to enter politics or return to teach at his high school.
My Hill - Stanford University
I am pumping my arms, trying to keep my legs moving. I feel lightheaded
and frail needing to catch my breath, but I am only half the way up. I
will not stop. I will keep going and going until I reach the top. These are
some of the feelings I get as I am running up my hill. The community of El
Sereno, which I live in, is full of hills. The biggest one with the antennae
on top is “my hill.” I use it to work out, to reflect upon things and just to
be alone. As I am running up my hill, I remember how hard my mom has
worked all her life for my sister and me. I remember playing basketball as
a fi fth grader amongst teenagers and grown men, learning to believe in
myself and to stay on the right path. When I reach the top I look around
and appreciate the beauty, tradition and all the hard workers of my community.
I realize that I am part of it. I must contribute to the tradition and
Sometimes I feel that I am not in tip-top shape, but I know I must be to
play all my sports. At these times I say to myself, “Let’s hit the hill.” I have
to work the hardest. That is just how I am. This comes from my mom. I
always think of her when I am running my hill. She is the hardest worker
I know. I remember the times we got off the bus at 10 o’clock at night
coming from downtown L.A. after a full day of shopping for the things my
mom sold throughout the week to support us. We would still have to walk
about a mile as my mom carried my little sister and a bag in one arm and
held me by the other hand while I carried another bag. Besides earning a living, my mom went to school to learn English. She has gone to school
for as long as my sister and I to try to earn her high school diploma. Even
though it has been a tough road, she has never given up. I take that feeling
with me going up my hill and in life.
Another reflection I have when I am on my hill is of when I was a fifth
grader playing basketball every day at my elementary school until it was
too dark to see anything. All the older guys would come and play too. They
tossed me around, but it made me tough. I will not be afraid of anything
after playing with them. It was a great challenge, and I love challenges.
They taught me to believe in myself and never let anything put me down.
They were not the greatest of role models as they did drugs and basically
did not have a future, but they always talked to me as if I was their little
boy. I could have ended up like them as other childhood friends have, but I
just took the advice and stayed on the right path. One guy told me, “Keep
on practicing and one day you can make it to the NBA.” I probably will not
be a professional basketball player, but just the belief that they had and
actually still have in me has given me the boost to always excel. Being on
my hill helps me reflect upon what has shaped me in my community.
On top of my hill I can see all of El Sereno on one side and the rest of Los
Angeles on the other. I love to look at my community, especially my high
school. My high school represents the place in which I live. It represents the
whole community, as it holds our future. It also holds our past, as many of
our teachers are Wilson alumni. It is a great tradition at our school that allows
our teachers to teach with more passion since they are back to where
they started. They really want to help our youth and that is what makes the
place where I live special. It has shaped me to look at life as a mission to
help people succeed. It has given me a positive outlook that has motivated
me to give back to my community as much as I can as I get older.
My hill gives me my motivation, lets me reflect on my past and lets me see
the future. It is a long journey in life as it is a long run up the hill. My hill
starts off pretty easy, although I cannot see how far it is or where exactly I
am headed because of the tall grass. Eventually though, I see the top and
what path I have to take to get there, but I realize I still have a long way
to go. I face obstacles and doubts, but I do not let them stop me. I am determined.
When I get to the top, always knowing that I will, I feel unstoppable.
I know the hard work will pay off.
Why This Essay Succeeded
A location can be a powerful topic for an essay because you can
make connections between all of the sights, sounds and even smells
and your life. Emanuel creates a touching portrait of his family and
himself through the vignette of the views he sees from the top of the
hill. By using the hill as an analogy, he is able to show the admission
officers a number of different vistas of his life that otherwise would not
ordinarily be related. Through each of the views—his family’s late-night
shopping trips, playing basketball and his high school—Emanuel is able
to share what is really important to him and what he has gained from
each experience. And that’s really all that the admission officers are
asking for in an essay.
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