Personal essay

College Essay: Life's Short, Go See the World

When I rushed into at my grandma’s house on the morning of February 26, 2012, she was already dead. I was 8 years old and I knew she was sick. Her death was still sudden and unexpected.

College Essay: No longer running away

Breathing rapidly, tears streamed down my face. “I can't do this anymore,” I say to myself.

Standing up, I walk to a random person sitting in the park.

Samira Mohamed

College Essay: Reading, writing and happiness

As a young Somali girl, the fictional worlds of “Junie B. Jones” and “Clarice Bean” were my escape.

Pay Poe

College Essay: Driven by my mother’s sacrifices

It was a humid summer day of my fourth year in America when I decided to apply for Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) to help me achieve my goal of a college education. 

College Essay: 6,373 miles to the ‘land of dreams’

The people on the plane reminded me of the soccer players and cartoon characters I saw on television. It was like another world. Not many people looked like me. 

College Essay: The value of education

The scorching heat and blazing sun signified the first day of summer break in 2015. I had just completed my seventh-grade year and my report card finally arrived in the mail. 

Heidi Sanchez Avila

College Essay: ‘A rainbow of identities’

I felt like I was in a whole new world. This was the first time I was attending a Pride event.

College Essay: Raising my voice and gaining confidence

On a humid day in June, I landed in Boston, feeling tense. I was away from home, away from my family. I was scared.

College Essay: ‘Wherever you come from does not define you’

When I tell people I live in north Minneapolis, their eyes often get wide. 

Zong Xiong

College Essay: Honoring a father and his legacy

I hate the smell of hospitals. The pungent, sterile odor of the place where some people go to die takes me back to the year I turned 7 years old. 

Gabriel Hearne

College Essay: Choosing the right path

If I hadn’t moved away from Gary, Indiana, I would be in a juvenile facility or possibly pregnant.

Jose Galvan, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School

College Essay: On a mission to help others

I am lying on the playground, looking up at the other kids like they are giants. One kid keeps kicking me in the stomach.

Chia Thao, St. Paul Highland Park High School

College Essay: A stand-in parent

My arms screamed in protest, crying mutiny against my mind even as screams, loud and physical, erupted from my youngest sister. 

College Essay: Telling my story, without a costume

The dress was knee-length, frilled, and made of a blue material that resembled a shaggy carpet. In retrospect, it was hideous. But in that very moment, I felt like a princess.

College Essay: A Mexican education system teaches a valuable lesson

When I arrived in Mexico City from my home, Minnesota, two years ago, I was petrified when I saw a place that looked hopeless.

College Essay: Full speed ahead

Bang! The gun goes off! I thrust out of the starting blocks with full force and accelerate forward. As I run, my breaths become shallow, my chest tightens and I hear myself breathing loudly.

College Essay: ‘Changing the world, one girl at a time’

When Hooyo (“Mother” in Somali) picked me up from school in our Ethiopian refugee camp, we’d walk the long way home so people wouldn’t know that I went to school.

College Essay: Overcoming homelessness

Homelessness can happen to anyone. I know because I experienced it. One day in fifth grade, my parents sat my siblings and me down together in our tiny apartment.

College Essay: A visit to Thailand and a new outlook on life

I stared at the red dirt stain on my Nike shoes. My throat dried up and sweat trailed down the side of my face. Despite the musty heat and my sore foot, I kept walking.

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