Lessons Learned

by Madeline Carino
(Fenton, MI, USA)

Sample Personal Essay


Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of attending Powers. I watched the football games, went to Camp of Champions, and longed to be a part of the roaring student section. I considered Powers more than just a school. To me, it was a tradition. For the past two generations, my family has graduated from Powers. My grandparents in ’72, my parents in ’92, and now I will make it a third generation when I graduate next year in 2012. My experience at Powers has been an incredible journey. When one is a Charger, they are given the necessary tools to build a solid foundation of principles needed for the rest of their lives. Powers has had a tremendous effect on the development of who I am today.

Over the past three years, I have kept myself preoccupied by participating in numerous extracurricular activities. In some seasons, I play more than one sport. The fall is my favorite season because I play volleyball. As a freshman, I made the Powers Varsity volleyball team. This achievement was far from easy, and that is why I consider it one of my greatest accomplishments. I can recall being on the verge of dehydration during the two-a-day tryouts. Not to mention it was 80 degrees outside and the Powers gym felt like a sauna. I had no friends, and I was competing against upperclassmen who considered me a threat. Did I mention I am only 5’2”? Despite the odds, I challenged myself to play past the point of exhaustion. At the end of every practice, a few more girls were cut and I was given another chance to work even harder; given another day to prove myself. By the end of the week, the team was finalized and I was a part of it. Two weeks later, I earned myself a starting position.

The fall of my freshman year taught me several significant lessons. From tryouts alone, I realized what diligence can accomplish. I never would have been invited to try out for Varsity if I had not completed extra workouts throughout the summer. I sacrificed time out of my precious summer vacation to attend almost every conditioning session that was held. And because I am considered short, I completed plyometric workouts on my own. I wanted to do whatever was necessary to make the freshman team; I never even imagined being asked to try out for Varsity.

From that entire season, I learned the value of respect. Respect creates unity, and this is vital to any team. In the game of volleyball, one must perform physically but even more mentally. Affirmations are key after every play. By using respect, I created a positive energy that was beneficial in games. Although volleyball taught me these lessons, I learned to apply them in my everyday life. I owe many other accomplishments to these attributes, including my Captainship from this past season.

Sophomore year I was invited to be a part of the National Honors Society (NHS). This is considered a prestigious achievement at Powers. To be a member, one must maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA, complete an additional ten service hours every quarter, attend monthly meetings, and avoid any serious punishment until graduation. If any of these requirements are broken, a student is put on probation. A second violation results in the automatic discontinuation of the student’s membership. Although this is a demanding organization, I have enjoyed my time participating.

The requirements alone supply me with motivation, charity, and gratitude. Because I cannot receive detentions, it is imperative that I abide by the rules. Luckily, I rarely have to be disciplined- I barely get grounded at home. I have never had a problem with dress code, and I have never served a detention. I also complete my own homework and do not rely on others to cheat off of. As one of my teachers has stated, “No grade is worth the price of your integrity.” This quote means to stay true to one’s own morals, and not to be lazy.

The most difficult requirement for NHS is completing the service hours. Not only do I have to perform ten per quarter but I must complete a combination of school, tutoring, and community hours that have to be approved by the NHS officials. NHS sets these requirements because they want students to heartily reach out to their community. Washing dishes is nice, but waiting tables for a few hours meets the NHS standards. Performing these duties has made me appreciate the reward of gratitude. I feel good about myself when I assist others. It has helped me realize that as people, we should not need incentive to do good deeds within our community. Too many times have I witnessed people refuse to help because they would not get paid in return. Volunteering makes me feel wanted; I feel as if my efforts make a difference. The payment of gratitude is just as, if not more, rewarding as money. To some people, NHS is a punishment, but to me, it is a life lesson. I have learned to maintain an appropriate behavior and to serve others. NHS has taught me how to represent myself, and my school, in a positive way.

Every year at Powers has been great, but my junior year I consider most memorable. This past February I encountered a life changing experience. I attended Kairos- a religious retreat held by Powers. Although I cannot share every detail of this incident, I can assure you that it has changed my outlook on life.

Before Kairos, I would attend mass, say prayer before dinner, and sacrifice chocolate for the season of Lent; but I never felt like these actions were beneficial to me. I completed these actions because I was taught to do so, not because I wanted too. I was merely going through the motions in regards to my faith. At Kairos, I finally realized how close God is to me. He is literally everywhere, all the time. I learned how God has helped the people around me. For example, He has granted one of my friends another chance at life by curing her cancer. Like how He has saved my fellow classmate from tragedy, He will always be there to pick me up when I am down. My faith has been strengthened to a whole new level of maturity.

Besides developing a deeper relationship with God, I have realized how lucky I am. God has blessed me with my health, the loving relations I have, and the superior education I have received. Kairos opened my eyes. There are so many people around me who have suffered, and yet, I cannot fathom the amount of pain they have felt. I am fortunate enough to have a stable income, both my parents, and almost all of my grandparents. I have taken these gifts for granted, and I cannot imagine living without any one of them. I am so thankful for the blessings God has given me. I now make a great effort to attend mass every Sunday. When I am there, I actually listen to the prayers and sing along with the hymns. Sometimes I will go alone if the rest of my family cannot accompany me. I feel as if I can truly appreciate the gifts God has given me. I am so thankful that Powers offers this incredible retreat. It was such a humbling experience, and made me realize that I have so much to be thankful for.
If I never attended Powers, my life would be completely different. I doubt I would have grown into the same person that I am today. Being a Charger has molded me into a motivated, successful, and grateful young woman. My freshman, sophomore, and junior year have all been phenomenal, and I look forward to what my senior year will bring. As the end of my high school career approaches, I know that Powers has prepared me for the real world. I plan to use the lessons learned in the classroom, as well as, my own my personal experiences to thrive into adulthood.


Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Madeline for sharing your personal essay of your years at Powers. It sounds like you had some wonderful experiences. Good luck to you.

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