The Reward is in the Giving

by Ryan Wyser
(Lakewood, CO, USA)

Community Service Essay - For as long as I can remember service to others has been an integral part of my life and has resulted in some of my favorite adolescent memories. I do not think that there is anything more satisfying than what you get in return when you volunteer to help younger children, members of the elder community, or anyone who can benefit from a skill you have. Participation in programs which provide little acts of kindness that are caring and meaningful to others is much easier and rewarding than I originally thought. To be honest the act of providing service to others is a gift that I have learned gives both ways and has been instilled in me throughout my life.

My first memory of being given the opportunity to provide help to others is when I was in second grade and I was picked to be a study buddy. It still makes me smile inside to picture that toothless grin looking up at me when my new kindergarten buddy sounded out or spelled a word correctly after our time together. I was an eager volunteer every subsequent year because what started as a way to get out of class became an activity I looked forward to as much as recess. Later in elementary school I was lucky enough to be picked to go monthly to the Meridian retirement community to read, play a game or talk with my much older friend. I realize now that my investment of time and companionship pales in comparison to how the experiences helped me to overcome shyness, develop a sense of confidence, and gave me satisfaction that I had made a difference in someone’s life.

During middle school my parents further pushed me to get involved with community service. They told me it was a great way to meet new people and stay busy. I was involved with a Christian youth group called Young Life which promoted participation is various community service activities. In addition, my mother was always encouraging us to go through our clothes and belongings for donations to the Disabled Veterans, the Lupus Foundation or Healing Minds. During this time, our family also became involved with the Table Mountain Animal Shelter and we have adopted and take care of 8 animals to include a bird, two cats and five dogs. I realize that I was the recipient of the gifts of life-long friends, a clean closet and the most amazing display of excitement and love every single time I walk in the front door. In addition, I know that keeping busy was a way to keep me from idle time and the participation in risky business that so many teens get involved in.

Throughout my high school years I was fortunate enough to come to the realization that participation in activities that give to others is not an infringement on my free time but rather an amazing memory waiting to be created. In my freshman year I was busy with sports, however, my mom offered me the chance to help out with her Gold Crown 7th grade basketball team. I was nervous at first, but before I knew it, I loved the chance to show off my skills and help the girls master fundamentals and learn plays in preparation for their high school team. It was fun to watch a group of unskilled players develop into a team that made it to the playoffs. I guess that is when I started to understand the pride that drove my mom to tears at every dance recital, graduation ceremony or great game I or my siblings were in.

As a sophomore I was involved in several community service activities. I was able to be a mentor to incoming freshman, volunteered to work at the Carnation Festival, and helped elementary school children in events at the JEFFCO Track and Field Day. It is an incredible feeling to be a part of creating the love for physical activity and achievement in athletes of the future.

My junior year presented new ideas for being involved with service to others. First, I was given the chance to be a peer counselor during school. This led to a leadership opportunity as I was selected to be a counselor at Outdoor Lab. Although being a counselor for a cabin full of 6th grade boys was exhausting, I learned I could be a great leader and role model by acting responsibly while taking them on night hikes, taking our turn in the mess hall and putting on entertaining skits for the students. It remains one of my favorite high school memories that is happily recalled each time I glace over the leather and bead “Mr. Wyser” name tag hanging from the corner of one of the certificates on my bedroom wall.

Also during my sophomore and junior years I was fortunate to be given the ultimate opportunity to give loving, caring and compassionate service to another human being when my family decided to provide in-home hospice care to my grandfather who was dying of melanoma cancer. As soon as we learned he was given less than three months to live, we immediately put everything on hold, packed up my bedroom and moved it to the basement so he could have my room, and we drove to Las Vegas and moved him to Colorado. At first I was hesitant to get involved as it was horrifying to watch the disease progress, however, watching his determination to live a good life and fight to the end gave me the strength to jump in and help. I drove him to the store or wherever he wanted to go, helped him dress the tumors that erupted, watched the strange wrestling matches on the Spanish station, and helped him eat, get to and from the bathroom and help change him and the bedding as he got progressively weaker. Although it was one of the scariest and most exhausting times of my life both physically and emotionally, I can say that is was also one of the most rewarding as well. Giving the gift of help to one you love and respect so much and helping to extend their life has given me an incredible strength and determination to survive and succeed regardless of what life throws at me. My grandfather passed away during my junior year but he left me a legacy of how to approach death respectfully, courageously, and humorously.

As a senior I have been involved in more anonymous service to others which is as satisfying as being recognized and thanked. During my four years as a varsity player on the basketball team I developed a knack for soliciting ads for our program from the businesses in Wheat Ridge. Although I was petrified at the thought of explaining how buying an ad could benefit these businesses and my mother had to force me to put on my WRHS sweatshirt or letterman’s jacket the first two years, I was so confident by me junior year that I was able to collect enough support to be able to offer credit earned to pay for three of my team mates’ fees for the season. This year I did the same, however, I did not let the players I earned credit for know that their fees had been paid. In return, I was so happy to know inside that three of my team mates were able to play the game I am so passionate about because of my contribution. I am grateful that I have been able to give to others as I have gained invaluable assets in return to include commitment, responsibility, kindness, patience, and confidence. However, the ultimate reward is the happiness that spreads with the grateful thank you smile you get in return for service to others. All of these experiences have led me to conclude that when it comes to community service the gift is in the giving because the return is often immeasurable as well as more rewarding than you can imagine.

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Thank you Ryan for sharing your college admission essay about your lessons learned from community service. Good luck to you in college.

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Defining Success

by Cheryl Allen
(Charleston, SC: USA)

College Admission Essay - Motivation or Inspiration: Defining Success

As anyone contemplating college or graduate school knows, the financial costs of education can be overwhelming. Outreach work, community service, volunteerism, whatever word you choose to use can be an important addition to a scholarship application. Service work allows a person to step outside of their own community and see the world through different eyes. And though outreach work may be initially motivated by a personal desire to meet requirements of a specific need, the act of performing the work changes the person. Giving your time in service to others can be a tool to discover and experience different cultures and thus allow you the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other people. And it will tell scholarship committees that you have an interest in something/someone besides yourself.

Motivation is an important component of succeeding. Motivation though without inspiration can leave an empty space in one's soul. I was initially motivated to go back to school because I wanted to further my nursing career. But I found my inspiration in a community located on the side of a mountain while doing medical mission work.

Though it would be easy to view this particular community as poor (using our definition of wealth) the people of the community of Cristo Salvador demonstrated to me the value of an education. I spent many years working with this population and my heart was touched by their willingness to care for each member of their community; for many of them, education was only a dream and it was inspiring to watch as they took different situations and turned these into learning opportunities. I realized that I could best help them by going back to school, and maybe, just maybe, I could return and work with them in a more meaningful way.

When I first started bringing medical teams to Cristo Salvador they had palm huts and dirt roads. Now there are cinder-block homes and the road is paved. I recently visited them and they proudly showed me their new school building—perched on the side of their mountain. They have a goal of starting a feeding program for their elderly and they have a day care. Their determination to make their community a better place has instilled in me the belief that with an education the world can be made a better place. And so in closing I leave you with this thought: motivation may get you through life—inspiration though changes lives.

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Thank you Cheryl for sharing your college admission essay about motivation and inspiration. Good luck to you in college.

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You Are a Soul

by Meaghan

College Admission Essay - You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” C.S. Lewis - He was a three-year-old boy who had been bitten by a dog. I looked down and could see part of his bone under the broken skin. Even I had to look away. Oddly enough, his eyes were dry and it was he who was comforting his mother. He would be just fine.

He was around forty, but not acting very grown-up. When I got there, he was arguing with the state trooper and telling his mother how much he hated her. He was a drinker, a smoker, and had obviously overdosed on some drug. But he would live, in some sense of the word.

Being a part of the Ellington Rescue Post has allowed me to see and feel a lot of things that most people are never able to experience in their lifetime. I was medically trained as an Emergency Medical Responder as a freshman and by the beginning of my sophomore year of high school I was riding on the ambulance regularly. Being in EMS is not like playing a sport; if you miss the shot, you do not just lose a game; you could lose a life. Being so young and being able to handle doing such a job is extremely uncommon, which is why so much is expected out of us. I have experienced what it is like to be depended on.

If you called 911, you probably would not expect someone my age to show up. Ellington Rescue Post has taught me how much I am capable of doing and showed me that if I have confidence in myself, I will not be second guessed.

She was barely past the age of sixty five and had been fighting cancer for about half that time. Her thin hands were shaking and her eyes were wet, but she did not say a word. She held my hand the entire ride to the hospital. She knew she was going to die, but she had already accepted that fact. She had her time to live, and she had done so.

Riding on the ambulance has revealed to me that sometimes the choices that person has made has led them to their position, and sometimes life just hits them the wrong way; but it is not what happens to during your life that really matters, it is what you do to help improve the lives of others. I know that during my time with the Ellington Rescue Post, I have made a difference.

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Thank you Meaghan for your very moving college admission essay. Good luck to you in college.

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