Even though he knew that his work inside of the classroom was important,
Donald placed a high priority on his contributions outside
the classroom as well. At Jesuit High School, Donald was editor of the
newspaper and yearbook, director of counselors at Camp ReCreation,
a summer camp for mentally and physically disabled children, and
president of his church’s youth group. He says, “It’s satisfying to see
I can make a difference." Donald plans to obtain M.D. and M.P.H.
California Boys’ State - Stanford University
My tired eyes managed to slowly glide across the bright paper, struggling
to distinguish the fading black type: “You have been distinguished as the
top in the junior class...in terms of leadership, character and scholastic ability."
I certainly felt honored to be recognized for my diligence throughout
my high school career, although I was uncertain as to what this nomination
was for. I continued, my ambivalence apparent by the expression on my
face, until I discovered the two words which explained it all: Boys’ State.
I was informed that I would have to be interviewed, the opportunity for
me to present the genuine “who I am" as opposed to “what I have done."
Numerous past achievements are undoubtedly essential in the evaluation
of an individual, but as philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once sagely
observed, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters
compared to what lies within us."
Once the interviews were completed and our records were reviewed (there
were three other candidates who were nominated), the only thing left to
do was wait. (This is, other than attending to the rigors of our engaged
high school lives.) I was soon informed that I would represent Jesuit High
School at California Boys’ State. I was ecstatic! I have always been eager to
pursue and gain experience in any field of knowledge. Thus this opportunity
was very intellectually promising. Nonetheless, my stay at Boys’ State
was not at all as I had anticipated it to be.
The week commenced rather quickly as all of the delegates nervously
arrived from various areas of California, most having adjusted to dormitory-
style living within a matter of hours. All of the boys, divided into more
productive groups termed “cities," gradually united to build their own
municipal governments. I spent the first few hours frantically studying for
the afternoon bar examination, which ultimately deemed me proficient to
practice law. Once the tension from the examination slowly dissipated, I
was able to spend a considerable amount of time acquainting myself with
some of the most outstanding fellow leaders in the state. This, undoubtedly,
was one of the most remarkable aspects of Boys’ State. I was given
the opportunity to meet these talented scholars and to learn about their
academic and personal lives. I imagined it to be somewhat similar to orientation
week at a very prestigious university (such as Stanford), for the most
brilliant minds and talents convened on one campus. Each individual strove
for the best but was always primed to work with others for the betterment
of our city. This was unlike anything I had ever experienced at the high
school level, and I must admit, it was wonderfully refreshing. Nevertheless,
socializing with others was only a minor aspect of the complete experience.
We were faced with numerous challenges of establishing efficient city and
county governments, building successful political campaigns and presenting
Eight days passed more rapidly than the fleeting days of summer. Nevertheless,
I felt that we, as a city, worked hard to accomplish all that we possibly
could in one week. The opportunities that I was afforded (my election to
the treasurer position, actively participating in running our city government
and receiving the Most Outstanding Model City Award) were accomplishments
that were achieved through the efforts of everyone in our city. The
teamwork was absolutely remarkable. I will treasure the moments which
were spent sharing knowledge, ideas and experiences with my roommates.
It was incredible that, within a short period of time, our city of 40 strangers
had bonded so beautifully and developed friendships for life.
Although Boys’ State was an intensive week of practical political science,
it offered so much more than just training for a life of playing “the power
game," as author Hedrick Smith termed it. I gained a wealth of new
knowledge about government and efficiency, countless friendships and,
most importantly, a newfound outlook on life. While it seems incomprehensible
that eight days could make such a profound difference in one’s
life, I now believe it can. I did not just come away from my stay as a well informed United States citizen. I feel that I emerged a leader, ready and
willing to take the invaluable experiences of Boys’ State and make a contribution
to my high school, my community and my prospective college. I am
now able to appreciate the importance of the qualities which constitute a
true leader—responsibility, charisma, efficiency and, most importantly, honesty.
My one week was well spent in that I also experienced a taste of what
college is about: learning from textbooks, professors, friends, roommates
It would be an understatement to reflect upon this week as an “experience
of a lifetime" because it was so significant to me. It was an experience that
was beyond my expectations and one which I will certainly continue to
Why This Essay Succeeded
When writing about an experience, it’s important to not only tell what
happened but to explain its effect on you. Donald conveys a clear
picture of the hectic week that he spent at Boys’ State, but he also interprets
the lessons he learned about leadership and political science
during the time. More important than what he did is what he gained
from the experience.
For this type of essay, it’s important to remember to explain what
you have discovered. The lesson doesn’t have to reveal the “secret
of life." It can be something small that you had not realized before.
Using specific incidents is also helpful. You don’t have to be able to
write complex prose to create a good essay. Simply having an eye for
detail and presenting your thesis in a clear, uncluttered style can yield
a successful essay.
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