College Admission Essays

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Lindsay Hyde – Miami - Florida

It takes a lot of courage for a high school student to pitch an idea to a top executive of a multi-billion dollar company. But this is exactly what Lindsay did, requesting funding from a vice president of Burger King for the Organ Donor Project she started. Her bravery was rewarded. She received the donation and then wrote and produced an informational video and educational curriculum to teach students at 12 U.S. schools and five international schools about organ donation. The graduate of Southwest Miami High School won numerous awards for her volunteerism, including the JC Penney Youth Volunteerism Award, National Coca-Cola Scholar award and Seventeen Magazine Youth Volunteer Award.

Organ Donor Project - Harvard University

It was still dark when I arrived early that morning at the Doral Golf Resort for the Pro-Am division of the Doral -Ryder Open golf tournament. As a member of the newly formed Southwest Miami High School girl’s golf team, I had been presented with the opportunity to volunteer as a caddy at the tournament.

After checking in at the caddy shack, each volunteer was assigned a number and placed on a list. As the golfers arrived requesting caddies, the numbers would be called and the caddies assigned.

Finally, my number was announced. I reported to the check-in station and found that I had been assigned to Jim Watkins, a tall, well-dressed man carrying a seemingly enormous leather golf bag with a red and yellow Burger King logo emblazoned on the front. When I finally built up the nerve to lift the bag, I was as surprised as he that I was a b le to shoulder it. The 18-hole, four-hour walk had seemed menacing before. Now, with the weight of drivers, putters, wedges and irons teetering on my shoulder, the Blue Monster seemed ready to swallow me whole.

During the tournament Mr. Watkins questioned me about school and my involvement in extracurricular activities. He was particularly interested in the community service project I founded and coordinated, The Organ Donor Project. As the day continued, I explained my motivation for creating the project, describing my grandmother’s dual corneal transplant and my belief in the need for more accurate, teen-oriented organ donation information.

I spoke about the three-day organ donation education event that I was in the process of planning and the tremendous outpouring of community support the Project already had received.

As we approached the 18th hole, the weight of the bag burning into my shoulder, the hot Florida summertime sun searing my cheeks, an idea began to form. From the very beginning of the Organ Donor Project, I had wanted to create an informational video that could be used within middle and high schools to dispel common teenage myths and misconceptions surrounding organ donation. Perhaps, I thought to myself as each member of the golf foursome putted his way to the end of the tournament, Burger King Corporation would be willing to sponsor the creation of such a video.

Walking off the course and back toward the caddy shack I was sure this was a risk worth taking. I held my head as high as I could, while crouching under the gargantuan bag, and looked straight ahead with confidence. I was going to ask him about my idea, and I knew without a doubt he would be ready and willing to move forward with my plan.

This confidence, however, quickly faded when we finally arrived at the caddy shack and my golfing partner was preparing to leave. I was no longer at all sure that this man with the painfully heavy golf clubs whom I had known for only four hours would be willing to listen to the fanciful ideas of a 16-year-old girl. Nerves had set in. But, as he turned to leave, I had the poignant realization that if I did not take this chance I would be tormented with thoughts of what might have happened and what I could have done. Clearing my throat, I stepped forward and began to speak.

As quickly as I could, I outlined my idea for the informational video and asked whether it would be possible for him to put me in contact with an individual at Burger King who would be able to authorize such a project. Using an undersized golf pencil, given to him to keep score during his game, he scribbled his name and contact information on a small slip of paper.

“Why don’t you put together a proposal on your video and fax it to me. I’ll take a look at it,” he said and then strode into the resort. I could hardly believe what I had heard and quickly looked down at the makeshift business card to be sure. There it said, “Burger King, Vice President.”

Nearly one year to the day later I received 250 copies of what became The Organ Donor Project “Fact or Fiction” video.

It amazes me how profoundly that one risk impacted my life. As a result of only 60 seconds of adrenaline and heart-pounding excitement, I have had experiences I may have never had access to otherwise. Though the actual completion of the video took only one year, the knowledge and skills I have gained as a result will last me a lifetime.

That morning it seemed as though the massive bag and the monstrous course were prepared to crush me. Instead, I emerged from the day only tired, slightly sunburned and completely elated. As a result, I realized the importance of stepping up, digging deep and taking the risks that may truly make a difference.

Why This Essay Succeeded

By receiving corporate sponsorship and creating an educational curriculum adopted by a dozen schools, Lindsay accomplished something that is quite extraordinary. If you have an amazing accomplishment like this you should definitely use your essay to highlight it. Imagine if Lindsay just listed the Organ Donor Project on her application and wrote about her love of tennis.

When it comes to impressive accomplishments, the essay is the best place to give the admission officers insight into what you have done.

But even though Lindsay’s accomplishment is impressive, she does not turn her essay into a brag session and neither should you. She uses her essay to explain what she has done and some of the risks that she took to do so. Whether you have accomplished something on a national level or neighborhood level, it’s important to convey the significance in your essay. What challenges did you need to overcome? How were you motivated? What is the impact of your efforts? Let the facts and your work speak for themselves.

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