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College Application Essay

Nicaraguan Boy

I applied to seven schools and was accepted to all seven. None of that mattered though because the moment I visited Lehigh I had my heart set. Every school required an essay as part of the application. My parents attempted to help me by offering a framework for the essay I should write. Not really getting that into it, I dutifully wrote what my parents advised. During the process I decided I wanted to write a new essay, and in my spare time drafted a different narrative. This one I liked, this one I really thought spoke more to who I am. I applied to Lehigh last, and sent my application on the last possible day for consideration, January 1st, 2007. For this final, and most important application, I decided to send my new alternate essay. I think it helped secure my spot in the incoming class that fall. Below is my full essay, which I only recently discovered printed in the dusty back corner of an old drawer; the digital copy having vanished from all my hard drives long ago.


I lay awake in my vinyl cot, wrapped up tightly in my sheet, now stained a light
brown from the dirt on my body. It was not even 9 o’clock at night, but the sun had set,
and everyone was ready for bed. The heat and the sweat of the day have given way to the
relaxing cool night breeze. I gaze up at the vast sky. With very little light pollution even
the faintest star is seen. I began to think about what I did that day, and what I
was doing over two thousand miles from home.

In the distance I can hear Martin singing and playing his guitar. His songs tell
of Nicaraguan folklore, stories about the hardships of the farmers and the struggles of the
nation. As I listen to the music drifting across the wide dry valley, I think of the
scenes of desperation I witnessed earlier that day. With each note he plays, images
of entire families picking through a mountain of garbage fill my mind. A group of
young women barely in their 20s gathers around a newly arrived garbage truck. As the
truck unloads the waste, they begin digging through the fresh pile, searching for anything
they could sell to feed their family. Martin’s song had ended, after a short pause a new
song began.

The new song has an upbeat rhythm and a peppy tempo. I roll onto my side in my
cot and close my eyes. The music takes me back to children of Nuevo Amanacer. Using
sandals they assemble bases into a diamond. One boy walks over holding a ball,
and just like that, the most intense game of kickball ever played is underway. We
don’t stand a chance against their raw energy. Miguel, only six years old, volunteered to
join the American team, to try to balance out the game. Despite the language barrier, the
game was still a lot of fun, and was the highlight of my day.

Martin’s song comes to a close, and the air falls silent. I look around the circle of
cots; nine other students like me, already fast asleep. I adjust the t-shirt which I am using
as a pillow, and roll onto my back. I once again look up into the heavens. My tired
eyelids begin to close and my mind clears. Moments later, I am fast asleep, preparing for
another day of work and interaction.

As I progress through my senior year of high school, there are points where the
difficult workload combined with the stresses of everyday life are overwhelming. I stop
and look towards the sky, and think back to my experiences from Nicaragua. I think of
the children like Miguel, who will grow up with barely any education. The poverty
stricken people of Nicaragua may not have many opportunities, however they always
give their utmost dedication and refuse to quit. It would be a disservice to those I met
on my trip if I didn’t do the same. I owe it to them to take advantage of every opportunity
given to me, to make something out of my life, and to help as many people as possible.


The dumps of Leon, Nicaragua where over 50 families live and work picking through the garbage for scraps of metal to sell. A full day's work on the piles might only yield $1worth of scrap.

The dumps of Leon, Nicaragua where over 50 families live and work picking through the garbage for scraps of metal to sell. A full day’s work on the piles might only yield $1worth of scrap.


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  1. September 8th, 2013 at 01:58 | #1

    Wow Brian that was great! Those memories will be with you forever and seem to have further shaped you into the incredible person that you are. And to think that we all are like those stars, each special and unique in their own way! Don’t forget the kids Brian and I hope you can return someday. I grew up in South America and it seems to me I was more alive there despite having less.

  2. Cade Haynes
    May 28th, 2013 at 23:58 | #2

    This was a GREAT essay! Mallow and Brian Vlogs sent me here! 😀

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