College Application Essay
Topic # 4 (could also be modified for #5)

A mighty struggle, you say? Ah, where to begin. I suppose Dickens is a good place…”it was the best of times, it was the worst of times... it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair...” First, the best of times. I was a motivated and enthusiastic student taking challenging classes and participating on the school newspaper staff my junior year. I was vivacious, clever, optimistic, funny, and dare I say a bit impish and immature. A typical fun-loving boyish lad who absolutely enjoyed life and people and noise and movement. I recall one day wrapping myself in aluminum foil, jousting upon desks with an imaginary light sword. My passions were two-fold: writing and Photoshop special effects. I created the most bizarre and entertaining edited photographs for the paper, and my writing was light-hearted. I’m sure my teachers don’t remember me without a smile on my face. In the fall of my senior year, the worst of times arrived. Cancer. I was summarily withdrawn from school, which included my AP Literature class, and placed on Home and Hospital leave. I had no idea what to expect. In the following months, I was at my most vulnerable and my most victorious. The treatments were brutal, and I wasted away. My body was shrinking, my skin translucent. Certain colors and smells nauseated me, my strength left. My hair shed. I started out with stacks of makeup work and my English teacher, who volunteered to work with me on my Home and Hospital program…I was buried under silly chapters in a Health book about eating nutritious foods and exercising and dating do’s and don’ts, short essays on government, and endless explications of poetry. It was soon obvious that I did not have the strength to keep up with the incessant string of assignments typical in a high school curriculum. While my English teacher liaison agonized and debated and worked deals with teachers, I quietly wrote a letter to them explaining precisely my condition and asked that they provide meaningful and substantive assignments for me rather than piles of busy work. A new me was emerging. A young man, who with dignity and maturity, communicated his predicament and his needs, who wanted to learn but realized the limitations he shouldered. And so, a new journey began. We forgot about study guides and chapter outlines and started talking about life, and literature, and faith, and pain, and endurance, and fear, and survival. We drew connections between the real and the surreal, the past and the future, the child and the adult. I transformed from a carefree kid to an empathetic adult who walked “through the valley of the shadow of death” and discovered that elusive “meaning of life.”I come to you with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, a deep reservoir of compassion, an acute understanding of life’s ironic humor and deep despair, and a bright, quick mind. Any assistance you can offer would not be squandered.