What is the biggest obstacle that you have had to overcome in Life, and what specific steps did you take to overcome it?
My life has been filled with many obstacles to overcome. However, I always thought of them as challenges. So as I sort out the biggest obstacle I think of my biggest challenge. In addition, even while I selected my divorce as my biggest challenge, I am not sure if I would call it that. I remember people telling me that divorce was like death. Death, I do not think so because I had five children to raise on my own and with a song by Gloria Gaynor, "I will survive" I started my journey.
As one of fourteen children, I was introduced to hard times all my life. I had two loving parents who kept a roof over our head and food on the table. One of the most important things my family stressed was education. We all completed high school and some of us were afforded the opportunity to attend college.
I attended a business school instead and receive certificate of completion six months later. The training came in handy because jobs were plentiful for data entry operators and I was always able to get a job. In addition, within the same year, I was married and eighteen years later I was walking out the door. I remember the song "I Will Survive", loaded my five children in my car, and headed for Florida. I explained to the children what was going on, why and how. I had no promised of a job, no place to stay and about two thousand dollars.
Equipped with the knowledge and the experience of hard times and doing without, I was ready to be all that I needed to be for my children. I came across the book "Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do" by Robert H. Schuller, after reading this book it help me put things into perspective. I got rid of the notion that I was a failure and became optimistic about everything.
In late August when I arrived in Jacksonville Florida, an old family friend owned a house that needed a lot of work. However, the children and I saw potential, it had a roof, windows, and doors. Each of the children had a pillow and a blanket and the floor was comfortable. We now had a place to call home, and I had high hope that I would find a job before my money ran low. I enrolled all the children into their various schools, two in high school, and two in Junior High and the youngest in day care.
I eventually found a job, all five children completed high school and college with two degrees each. I am thankful for the challenge I had and was determined to stay positive throughout those years. There were many days we had no electricity, no phone, or running water. However, staying positive was always the flavor of the day. It was hard but painting a picture of a brighter day was more beneficial for my children to thrive. The biggest obstacle was getting pass self and focusing on the challenge at hand and that was to provide a safe, stable, productive, and optimistic environment for my children.
"So as I sort out the biggest obstacle I think of my biggest challenge."
--this seems a little unnecessary. Its like you are kind of just playing with semantics here--
"In addition, even while I selected my divorce as my biggest challenge, I am not sure if I would call it that."
--But you just did call it that. Its like saying, "I would say that my biggest problem is math, but I am not sure if I could say that." If you don't want to talk about the divorce because you dont think it was your biggest challenge then just don't bring it up at all.--
I attended a business school instead and received a certificate of completion six months later.
"In addition, within the same year, I was married and eighteen years later I was walking out the door."
--I see that you clarify what door you are walking out of later in this paragraph but here it just causes confusion. Try rewording this so that the reader knows you are talking about the fact that you were walking away from your marraige. (I initially thought you meant you were quitting your job or something.)--
Overall I think you have a good story here but it is unfocused. Maybe it's just me but I got the impression that you were not going to talk about your divorce because you stated that you wouldn't call it your biggest challenge. Also this seems more like a life story rather than a particular instance. Make it clear that you believe your divorce should be the main topic of this paper and why. Also narrow your time frame down so that you only talk about the immediate events that lead up to and follow that time period. Good luck!
This is my first scholarship essay and I thank you for your comments and I will on this some more.
Thanks again I am so thankful for this website and each of you.
Cut out all that weak stuff above! :)
Start with the attention grabber:
I remember people telling me that divorce was like death. Death ? I do not think so, because I had five children to raise on my own after my divorce, and with inspiration from Gloria Gaynor's song , "I will survive" I started my journey.
...roof over our heads and food on the table.
Equipped with the knowledge and experience from having been through hard times , I was ready to be all that I needed to be for my children. I came across the book Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do by Robert H. Schuller, and it help me put things into perspective.
Notice above that I changed the bok title to italics. Use " " marks for song titles and article titles, but use italics for book titles.
This is an inspirational essay! Congratulations, and BTW read Man's Search for Meaning by Frankl.
Thanks Kevin and I really do appreciate you the team and this website. And I will get the book you suggested.
As one of fourteen children, I was introduced to hard times all my life.
- The latter part of this sentence could be stronger. It sounds awkward.
[I attended a business school instead] and receive certificate of completion six months later. The training came in handy because jobs were plentiful for data entry operators and I was always able to get a job. In addition, within the same year, I was married [but] eighteen years later I was walking out the door. [I remember the song "I Will Survive"], loaded my five children in my car, and headed for Florida. [I explained to the children what was going on, why and how]. I had no [promise] of a job, no place to stay and about two thousand dollars.
- Instead? Instead of what?
- Perhaps you should explain the importance of the song instead of just mentioning it like a passing fancy. Though the title of the song is pretty revealing (I personally know the song), I wouldn't blindly wager that the people in the judging committee know of the song.
- The second to the last sentence could probably be shortened to: I explained the situation to my children.
- Your last sentence seems to be contradictory with your claim about always being able to get a job.
- You should emphasize the lack of funds. E.g. and a meager two thousand dollars: it wouldn't last us long.
Cool! Thanks, Jay, for all the great help you have been giving people.
Thanks Jay, I will be a better writer because of each of you. I am looking forward to returning to school in the summer and I am sure I will keep my writing up.
Thanks again to everyone.
Hey, I'm glad to hear you got the Frankl book. That has taken me through some tough times. It is psychotherapy based on helping patients find meaning for their suffering.
Frankl tells one story of a physician whose wife had died. Frankl helped that guy find meaning. The guy could not stand the grief he was feeling. Frakl writes:
I refrained from telling him anything but instead confronted him with the question, "What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first and your wife would have had to survive you?" "Oh," he said, "For her, this would have been terrible. How she would have suffered!" Whereupon I replied, "You see, Doctor, such a suffering was spared her, and it was you who have spared her this suffering-to be sure, at the price that you now have to survive and mourn her." He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left my office. (Frankl 117)
That gives me chills every time I read it, including this time.
Very powerful and thought provoking.
Many of us faced challenges in our formative years and we struggled with them. Some of those struggles might have changed who we are or how we later approached life. Marilyn Campbell is an overcomer. She wrestled with shyness in her young years. Before you read her essay, learn a little more about Marilyn’s background from an update she sent to me:
“I never did quite get the opportunity to thank you [for helping me develop my essay]. Regarding my college process:
I applied to three schools early action: Harvard University, Brown University, and Georgetown University; I applied to Tulane University as a backup school regular decision (it can be considered a backup for those people who reside in-state).
I am happy to say that I was accepted at Brown, at Georgetown (thank you very much!), and at Tulane; I was deferred from Harvard; I am not applying to any more schools.
If there’s something I learned about applying to colleges and watching my friends apply to them, I would recommend applying to as many early action schools as possible by the deadlines. This takes away the stress and work of doing several applications at a very busy time of the year (one is taking exams or they are hanging over our heads).
At the very least, if one applies to one school early action or early decision, s/he should not wait until they receive that school’s response to begin filling out all the other applications waiting in the wings. I know that it is very tempting to wait, but after seeing what this has done to several of my friends, I highly recommend getting an early start.
Finally, I suggest that students don’t blow off their freshman year. If that happens, one will spend the next three years trying to bring up those grades.
* * * *
When I was a young, awkward adolescent, I considered myself to be a shy person, especially around boys. Because of this, my experiences at a coed middle school intimidated me somewhat. So, for the past five years, I have attended an all-girls school, which has helped me to become a stronger person. I have overcome my shyness and insecurities and developed much more confidence.
Ironically, I believe that my shyness, something that I consider a communication barrier, has ultimately led me to focus on a field for my life’s work: communications. Despite my aversion to it early on in life, I now love speaking to and interacting with people, be it as a friend, teacher, or public speaker. I now have a passion for stimulating conversation, and that enthusiasm manifests itself in three different and important aspects of my life outside of the classroom: peer support, volunteer work, and music.
Peer support is a high school-sponsored program through which juniors and seniors are selected to work with eighth graders who attend Sacred Heart. It involves an intensive three-day workshop where student leaders learn how to listen effectively to and become mentors for the younger students. I love this work. Once a week, I get to speak to these impressionable boys and girls about anything that I feel is important. I enjoy learning about their lives and their issues and exploring possible solutions to their problems. We study today’s society and its impact on them. I see much of my old self in these young people and that memory has helped me to help them become more confident about their everyday lives.
My volunteer work centers on teaching, through a program called Summerbridge. After school, I go to a nearby public school and tutor learning-disadvantaged preteens. Instead of dealing with the students’ personal issues, as I do in peer support, the Summerbridge focus is more on communication through education. By working with these younger students, I have come to understand the importance of helping them comprehend and apply what they learn in the classroom. Their motivation, given their circumstances, is remarkable. We discuss in detail what they are learning so that I can keep them interested and motivated. Summerbridge is another example of how communication issues are very important to me.
Not surprisingly, music has emerged as another, perhaps indirect, avenue for me to communicate with others. Singing allows me to convey my deep and personal emotions with others. When I sing, I am transported to another realm. The mundane everyday world around me disappears, and I am enveloped in my own, new space, especially when I am performing onstage. When I act, I am transformed, feeling the happiness, sadness, impishness, or even confusion that my character feels. My performance taps into that part of me where those qualities dwell, and I love sharing it with my audience. Music is a very special form of communication for me.
Perhaps the person I am today is a compensation for who I was years ago. That awkward twelve-year old, however, is no more. Now I want to show the world what I can do. Communication has become my passion. It will be my future.