Community Service Isn't Just Words
by David Lazar
College Essay - Community service isn’t just words, but an opportunity in life to contribute one’s time to helping others and making a difference in society; and thus a better place to live for all. Throughout my years of school, I have been fortunate enough to see hands on, how sharing what I’ve learned in my life with others, makes a directly positive influence in their lives. Music and academics, along with my Christian faith, have always been at the forefront of my life and has educated and inspired me to enjoy serving in the community.
Throughout my years of school, I have increased my knowledge of music and have shared what I’ve learned by performing in the metropolitan Detroit area. I have had the opportunity to perform with different bands at Senior Citizen Homes for their holiday parties, awards banquets and summer picnics. Through school, I have learned how to prepare, set-up rehearsals, and organize music so that the event runs smoothly. The Seniors Citizens are always very appreciative and truly enjoy the experience. I have helped set up games, sing and dance with them and we all have a very good time. I am also the leader of our school’s Jazz Combo. We have performed not only at senior citizen events, but also at restaurants, churches, holiday and retirement parties, and various fundraisers. Additionally, I am a member of the Detroit Symphony’s Civic Jazz Orchestra, a youth program in Detroit. Through this venue, I’ve learned new ideas and techniques from the mentors, teachers and students that are from all different parts of out community; once again serving in the Detroit area through this group as well. In all these instances, if it wasn’t for my education, I would not have been able to donate my time.
However, as much as I love music, it’s not my only focus in my life. I have always aspired to have a career in the medical field. Academically, I have been working diligently to prepare myself for my future. By taking honors and AP classes now, it has already allowed me to do some community work with respect teaching. I have tutored younger students and helped them improve in their own studies. As I move forward in my life, I hope to attain knowledge in medicine and eventually become a doctor. Once again, as I educate myself in this new field, I hope to give back by serving in my community and perhaps different communities throughout the world.
I know serving in the community will always be part of my goal in life, whether it is musically, academically or my new venture of medicine. I have a lot to learn, but once I become more educated, I will also increase my ability to share what I’ve learned. Donating my time to a community is something I will always pursue, because sometimes people just need support and it’s what life is all about.
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by Allison Harvey
College Scholarship Essay Example - The word “amazing” is defined as “to overwhelm with surprise or sudden wonder; to astonish greatly, to bewilder,” and lastly, “to perplex”. In my opinion, however, the word is extremely overused. To me, something truly amazing takes your breath away or leaves you speechless. But who am I kidding; I say it all the time.
My trip though, my 8 day, 9 night trip to Appalachia, really changed my whole mind-set. I don’t know if it was seeing the faces of strangers light up as we finished tearing out their moldy, bug-infested flooring, or if it was installing insulation and painting their children’s bedroom, things they said they would never have been able to afford if it weren’t for us giving up our summers to work.
Or maybe it was Norma’s amazing story. Norma lives in a small trailer, her family depends on her husband’s salary as a mechanic, and she watches over 6 children ages 9 months to 12 years. Some of them are hers, and some of them are her oldest daughter’s. Her daughter made some bad choices and is unable to raise them, so Norma took on that responsibility.
A few years ago, Norma was diagnosed with Breast and Uterine Cancer. She prayed continuously for the Lord to cure her. When she walked into her first treatment, she told the nurse to re-scan her because she was certain the Lord had cured her. While the nurse protested, she respected Norma’s wish. Sure enough, after double and triple checking, the doctors could find no trace of Cancer still in her body. If that is not a testimony of faith then I don’t know what is.
Another family that touched me has 5 people, 4 cats and a dog in their small trailer. Their home was in desperate need of new flooring, a roof, and a front door; all things I take for granted. But it wasn’t the work that we did on their house that was really incredible. It was the personal relationships we developed with the family. John, the head of the household, didn’t show up until after lunchtime, as he had gone to a food pantry to receive handouts and had decided to stay and volunteer his time afterwards. When John arrived home, I helped him carry in groceries and he told me how the Lord is working in his life. A month prior, a friend of his had randomly invited him to church, so he went and prayed. A few weeks later, Appalachia Service Project showed up asking if they could fix his trailer free of charge. John told me that to him, volunteering was his way of giving back for all of the blessings he has received in his life.
The family also had two daughters, one going into 6th grade, Abby, and a two-year old, Lily, who could really wreak havoc. Since the 2 year old is in constant need of attention, it was easy to notice that Abby was desperate for her own spotlight and needed a friend. Even though I went to their house to give them a new bathroom floor, I left Abby with not only a new friendship, but she learned how to shuffle cards and play Miss Mary Mac, things she had always wanted to do. I enjoyed my time with Abby. We danced and sang like idiots to the Disney channel, we jumped on her trampoline for hours, and we just enjoyed each other’s company. She taught me that friendship and a smile can go a long way.
The difference between a foreign mission trip and a domestic mission trip is that while they provide political barriers to overcome, receiving help from other Americans inspires unity.
I will never forget the families we met. Their ability to open their arms to complete strangers regardless of our backgrounds is something truly beautiful. No prejudice, only love. They live their lives as if they were Jesus, and they don’t even realize it.
While I left Pike County, Kentucky with what seemed like 100 mosquito bites and a nice cowboy hat; Pike County left me with hope and a realization that it isn’t always the big things that matter, just as long as we have our family and friends by our sides. And to me, that is truly amazing.
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Thank you Allison for sharing your personal story about your trip to Appalachia. It sounds like you had a great experience. We appreciate you allowing us to include it in our collection of college scholarship essay examples. Good luck to you.
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Roderick in Senegal, 2011
Roderick traveled with us on our high school summer community service program in Senegal in 2011. A current senior at Camden High School in Camden, South Carolina, he will be attending Wofford College in the fall. The essay below, about building bricks during his volunteer experience in Africa, was part of the stellar application. Congratulations, Roderick!
Two summers ago, I found myself a continent away making a brick. This is not a very
complicated process, but it is a process where the efforts of many reaped tremendous rewards. Driving to a hardware store to buy a brick was not an option, but to create just one brick took a considerable amount of time. I soon discovered that laying a foundation for a home was more than just a repetitive and laborious process… it was a catalyst for my future.
I was in another world– one without running water or electricity. One without plumbing. One without a bed. One where speaking my native language was not the norm and accomplishing the most simple daily tasks often took hours. I arrived in Mbissel, a small village in Senegal, West Africa– four thousand miles from my comfort zone and not a soul I knew. I soon discovered that living in this foreign world was far less complicated than living in my world. In fact, it was much simpler: less hectic and full of meaningful experiences. Making bricks step by step, one by one may be mundane, but the friendships I made, the smiles I received, and the relationships I built while creating thousands of bricks were more fulfilling than anything I had experienced in my 16 years.
I traveled to Senegal to learn and explore. My classroom became the building site where I
worked with the villagers. They were my teachers, and as I worked alongside them, they became my friends. My daily lesson was simple but time consuming: hauling sand and concrete, walking the 30 minute roundtrip hike to the well for water, mixing the water and the concrete, pouring the mixture into a mold, carrying the mold to a field to dry, walking back, and starting again. It was a process so simple, yet so painstakingly slow. How could such a tedious job yield such gratifying emotions?
Enjoying the ripened fruit of the mango tree was the perfect ending to my day; this setting became another classroom where I taught and was taught in return. The children of the village flocked to any “toubab” that they spotted, so I was obviously never alone under the mango tree. As I reflected on the day’s work, the children constantly begged for attention, which I freely gave. They attempted broken English while I mutilated the beautiful French language. It didn’t matter what we were trying to say, for hand gestures and laughter were the result of our efforts. My attempts to count in French made the Senegalese children laugh as I could only count to 40, and they would continue on to 100. Out of curiosity, we taught each other.
My experience in Senegal was the beginning of my foundation. I believe that learning takes place not only in a classroom, but along the paths I have chosen to take. The lessons I learned while making bricks and sitting around the mango tree continue to resonate within me. Respect for citizens of the world, other cultures and an appreciation for values taught and learned in new environments will be my foundation. I built bricks for the Senegalese, but they have built so much more for me. I look forward to pursuing the journey, brick by brick.