Interviews

They wrote their college essays between 1999 and 2007.

Then away they went to college. That was as much of the future that mattered at the time.

Now that they've all graduated and embarked on their careers, HAVE the amazing connections each essayist made as a high school senior continued to shape the lives he/she is leading now?

Click each title below. First you will see the link to the survey-taker's original essay, then the four survey questions each was asked, followed by his or her responses. The names and any reference to his or her identity have been omitted.

See for yourself or continue on to 2 Thought-Provoking Outliers

 

1. FINDING MY KARMA

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

I finished Chapman University in 2005 with a BA in psychology and philosophy with a minor in Spanish. Then I went on to get my masters in spiritual psychology…finished that, then went on to get my doctorate in transpersonal psychology for which I have a year left… Along with going to school, I became a certified yoga instructor. I also own and operate three companies. One has a portfolio of four hotels, another is a hospitality management company, and the third is life coaching some of the top B-list celebrities in Hollywood… I work very long hours!!!

@ Present

Dada and I have been working unbelievably closely together for the last 10-15 years… He is the one who steered me on the path to transpersonal psychology. Thanks to him, I am a very active leader of a holistic science charitable research foundation, which sends me to India for a few months every year…In June, I will be speaking at UCLA on “the purpose of life.”

Though I am not involved in theater per se, in my role as life coach to many actors I help them understand the separateness between the body and the soul, and that even when they are not “acting” in front of a camera they are still “Acting” in front of the camera of life and the universe and everything that orchestrates it to function the way it does.

Looking Ahead

My dream is to share with the world the many stories, experiences, and wisdom I have gained through my 15 years of studying with Dada. Initially, I want to work with an editor to get my books going, and after a few books, hopefully, I can fly on my own…. I want to continue traveling the world and sharing my experiences. When I attain my PhD, I will head Dada’s charitable research foundation.

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

I feel that it is very important, especially after working with you, to have support when it comes to writing… The connection we made when you helped me 12 years ago freed me to get in touch with and express the gyan Dada had inspired: a moment when wisdom was passed down to me…From that point on, it became clear to me that my life had two paths…a real and a relative… the real was the role of the soul as knower and seer of the body, and the relative was the body in movement based on its karma. When I started to let go and allow the universe to steer my path and trust that nothing but the best was on its way, I started to see myself do and achieve things I never knew were possible.

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions

2. STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

My first independent, exploratory plunge was geographic: deciding to go to school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; all my high school friends had chosen schools on the East Coast. In fact, they’ve all stayed close to home. I went off to college not knowing anyone. Then for my first job, I found myself moving to Chicago, again not knowing anyone, and liking it that way, even choosing to live without roommates in a studio apartment. My first job was with Northern Trust Bank. Then, when given a chance to spend four career-related months in Bangalore, I convinced myself to go – I knew one other person. It was a rewarding trip on several levels: professionally I gained a first-hand understanding of outsourcing and I met my future wife. When I returned to Chicago, I knew my next step was to get my MBA. Rather than choose an eastern grad school, I chose Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. Meanwhile, I was also navigating the ins and outs of immigration to get my wife to the US.

@ Present

Currently I’m managing the pension fund at Boeing, and, for an even bigger new development: my wife and I have just had a baby boy, Jonah.

Looking Ahead

I am just looking to continue growing, making exciting connections, and being open to more breakthrough moments.

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

It’s been an interesting journey reliving these moments in my youth. Writing “Stairway to Heaven” my senior year in high school definitely made a permanent impact on me. I really do think that once I realized that unexpected connections are everywhere, I’ve spent my life being willing to go the less traveled road to meet them.

As for the other people mentioned in my essay, Jessica attended Georgetown and then went on to get her Master’s degree. As for my cool cousin Alan: these days he is an athletic director living in Georgia, very politically conservative. Perhaps his definition of coolness always had more to do with a willingness to go with the flow and maintain the status quo. All I know is my definition is to embrace the unexpected gifts that are always there if you know how to be on the lookout for them.

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions

3. OPENING DOORS

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

It’s no coincidence that my favorite college course at Tufts was one devoted to reading and writing personal essays. It was the first college classroom I walked into and it arguably had the biggest impact on my life and career. The professor ultimately recognized my passion and helped me realize that majoring in English was the right decision (albeit a decision fraught with endless jokes about dead-end career options and abject poverty). It was a realization that sent me cascading down a path of discovery; one that continues today, but that has had its fair share of epiphanies along the way.

My senior year of college, I remember wondering what the heck I’d do upon graduation, so I set about googling for writing fellowships. I stumbled upon the website of Harvard’s now-defunct Nieman Conference for Narrative Journalism and remember feeling like someone who’d been on a “deserted” island for years only to realize that there was a whole community of like-minded people living with-in earshot.

I had never known what to call the brand of thoughtful, descriptive, reflective, character-rich storytelling I had always gravitated toward, and now I’d found an entire conference devoted to it. I went to the conference that year, and for the next four years until it closed due to financial woes. Thankfully, Boston University recently picked up where Harvard left off.

As for paying the rent in Brooklyn, when I graduated in 2005, my first job was
was at CBS News Productions, where I helped produce documentaries and other non-fiction programming. From there, I took a job as Digital Director at a
chain of newspapers in Queens, NY, where I pioneered the company’s use of video and multimedia and launched and edited a magazine. Then I went to the
FIFA World Cup in South Africa on contract for The Wall Street Journal and GQ, and afterwards began freelancing for The New York Times.

@ Present

I recently completed an Entrepreneurial Journalism fellowship at CUNY, and on top of that I am still freelancing for The New York Times.

Looking Ahead

One big goal already realized…

http://launch.narrative.ly/

Local. Original. Organic.
In-Depth. New York.
Narratively is a digital platform devoted to original, true, and in-depth storytelling
about New York, with plans to
expand to additional cities.
Through writing, photography, documentary video, anima-tion and interactive media, Narratively distills New York —
one story at a time.
Launching summer 2012.
Learn more about us here.
http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/media/2012/06/6007041/times-freelancers-make-bet-long-form-local-journalism-new-site-narrati
==
Noah Rosenberg, who came up with the idea for Narratively a few years ago and has been slowly developing it ever since, said there were already five weeks worth of content lined up. Each week will revolve around a particular theme. Sex and death obviously fall on the provocative end of the spectrum, but wonkier motifs like New York waterways and “obscure New York pastimes” are also on the schedule.

The site will publish just one story a day. Monday might yield a 5,000-word narrative; Tuesday an interactive media presentation; Wednesday a video documentary or photo slide-show; and so on. The editors will solicit feedback and submissions from readers throughout the week, culminat-ing in a curated melange of user-generated content by the time Friday rolls around.

Rosenberg, a 29-year-old New York Times freelancer with wide eyes, thick stubble and brown hair that he usually ties back into one of those au courant man buns, recently com-pleted a fellowship at CUNY’s Tow Knight Center for Entre-preneurial Journalism, where he spent four months drafting a business plan for the nascent venture.

“The goal is to get a launch sponsor, raise some seed money, start generating revenue, and eventually do this full-time,” said Rosenberg. “There’s not really a platform devoted exclusively to in-depth narratives about New York. I real-ized the power of these stories and I wanted a place to do them 100 percent of the time.”

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

I’ve been a narrative storyteller since long before I knew what the term even meant. Regardless of whether you call it “creative nonfiction” or “literary journalism,” the craft is all about quality, style, description and character — it’s about engaging the reader, pulling him/her in, while illuminating a subject, be it yourself or an idea.

Still, I wonder if I that freshman-year English class and that initial narrative conference would have been as inspiring and enlightening had I not grappled with my own personal narrative beforehand. I might not have realized this as I wrote my college essay with Uniquely U.’s Maxene Mulford, but re-reading that essay recently — likely for the first time in over a decade — I was struck with how utterly familiar it sounded. It was a familiarity in terms of content and characters, several of whom I am still friendly with, but also in style: there’s the “anecdotal lede,” as my editors at The New York Times — where I now frequently ply my trade — like to call it; there’s the self-reflection I explored in that initial college English class; the playful language I still strive to create.

My college essay reads much like the pieces I wrote about my college roommates — and read aloud to them in our filthy living room — the last semester of our senior year. It feels like those initial first-person essays I wrote upon moving to New York after graduation, when I would swim with the Polar Bear club at Coney Island on New Year’s Day or seek out a colorful Italian parade snaking through a changing neighborhood. It sounds like the type of story I aim to publish now on the narrative journalism website I am currently developing. It’s a real story, told in an engaging way that somehow makes it all the more real, all the more approachable and applicable. And I can’t speak for other journalists, other storytellers, but that’s exactly the mission I’ve created for myself over the years as I forged my own identity as a writer, and as a person.

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions

4. OF CATS, CATTINESS, AND A GOOD EDUCATION

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

I attended Haverford, where I majored in Anthropology, graduating in 2009. Haverford was wonderful. At first, it took some getting used to because I felt like the other kids were a little more “studious” than I was, but once I got over that, it really was a wonderful place where no one had to be afraid to be themselves.

My first job after I graduation: I worked in promotions and branding for a sports marketing agency in Norwalk, CT.

@ Present

I ended up in Denver because my boyfriend was transferred for work… I just took a giant leap and went without a job. It was tough for a few months, but now I work in the marketing department for Correctional Healthcare Companies, which provides healthcare services to jails and prisons across the country.

I am a proposal writer. We market to county and state governments, sheriffs associations, and private prison companies, purchasing officials, sheriffs, probation officers, judges – so I’ve definitely had to learn to write more technically. Still, I’ve gotten to bring some of my creativity into it after convincing the marketing team that we can still be innovative in this line of work. I’ve also learned that my favorite pieces to write are for the mental health and community corrections side of the business. We provide a huge amount of diversion treatments to help offenders with substance abuse and mental health issues to not go to jail, and we also provide these treatments to inmates being released from prison in order to help them stay out of jail. Our point of differentiation is that we provide a continuum of care – we don’t just treat inmates in jail, we can actually treat them and help them in order to PREVENT them from going to jail, and can also provide assistance to them after they are released to ensure they won’t go back. I like the mental-health / substance-abuse piece because it makes me feel like I’m making a small difference.

On the actual job level, I handle the creation of the proposal, budget, project, everything from beginning to end. In a way, writing a proposal means coming up with the truest narrative.

People ask me why I think inmates/offenders deserve healthcare and I’m like “why not?!” Reading my essay again and the line about liking the underdog, I’m like, oh my god, I am still that person! and it really does translate into my professional life.

Looking Ahead

Eventually, I’d like to move to New York City and work for a marketing agency, and, you know, then get married and have kids and still have a career and all that 🙂

I always thought I wanted to go into traditional marketing / advertising, but this new job has definitely opened my eyes up to some other possibilities. I’d love to keep writing in some capacity, but I’m not sure if I want to continue in proposal writing…it’s so stressful and even when you submit the absolute best narrative you can, it’s still up to the buyer to decide if they want to go with you!

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

Hmm, I just realized that proposal writing is kind of like college-essay writing. You can always do your best, but at the end of the day, your fate is in someone else’s hands. Which is a huge motivator as well.

Recalling writing my essay: you totally helped pull out of me the connection with my stuffed animal and my conviction to defend the underdog (or cat)! I had no idea it would go there but think it’s so cool that it did.

I think that experience in middle school of being judged has left me to be unafraid of just being me, but more importantly, I think it made me conscious of how other people around me are feeling and not afraid to speak up when people call things gay or makes jokes about religion or weight or race or whatever it is, and I’m pretty outspoken when it comes to telling people to stop even when things don’t offend me personally. I think that my experience in middle school has led me to understand that being mean and hurtful just isn’t worth it.

Plus, Haverford is filled with just about the nicest people in the world, so that helped too.

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions

5. PLAN B - HIGH SCHOOL COLLEGE ESSAY & PERSONAL STATEMENT FOR GRADUATE SCHOOL

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

I attended Union as an undergraduate in the Class of 2009, where I majored in history and had the character-building experience of trying to come back from shoulder surgery that ended my football-playing days.

I found grad school at to be fairly easy. I did not think that the coursework was particularly challenging compared to what I had done at Union. At the time I didn’t think it was particularly useful, and I still feel that way to some extent. However, the more I teach the more I realize that I learned things in grad school that others may not have. Still, those things are not at a particularly high intellectual level, they were just pieces of information that I picked up. This makes me wonder why some schools, the one I attended in particular are so selective and “elite.” The things I learned in grad school that I find to be useful in my everyday teaching are not complex ideas that anyone needs to be especially intelligent to understand, they just need to be explained to someone in order to be useful.

@ Present

I landed my coaching job with New Canaan football through my high school head coach who is now their defensive coordinator. There was an opening at the New Canaan middle school so the coaching job was supposed to kill two birds with one stone, by helping me get my foot in the door with New Canaan public schools. The coaching has been going great, the New Canaan job side of it has yet to pan out. As for the New Canaan football program, I love how it’s rooted in so much tradition and history.

Teaching has been challenging so far. The planning and grading side of it has not been too bad because, I think of the grade level and student ability level that I deal with. It does not require a ton of intellectual thought on my part. Perhaps this is just my perception, though, because I have been well prepared.

Dealing with students though has frustrated me greatly. I am dealing with a fairly disadvantaged population and their performance reflects many of the stereotypes that may come to mind when thinking about that group of students. Their unwillingness to make the effort required to learn is incredibly frustrating and it seems that all those that want to work hard and try to learn are the ones who have lesser intellectual abilities. In addition, the discipline system in the school is abysmal. There are no consequences for anything including, in at least one case, a threat to a teacher (not me). This is by far the most frustrating thing so far, and if remedied would probably make the culture of the school improve significantly.

As for my shoulder: it’s ok. It does not affect my skiing or everyday life. There are certain things that it limits me with still, weight lifting and continuing to play lacrosse as physically as I’d like, but it does not prevent me from being happy.

Looking Ahead

In my teaching, I would like to continue to improve my skills in the classroom. Additionally I would like to relocate to be closer to home and where I can coach and teach in the same area allowing me to be better at both. In an entirely different realm, I am still looking to challenge myself in other ways and have been for some time considering becoming an officer in the Army, both as a matter of service but also as a personal challenge. It is, obviously, a very difficult decision made far worse by my long-term girlfriend and an overall satisfaction with my life as it exists now. Not sure how this one will turn out.

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

I believe the process of working with another person in general is very beneficial for the writing process. Two eyes are always better than one. I have felt this way in working with you twice, my thesis advisor at Union and now from the other side in having writing conferences with individual students. Each of us has our own perceptions, biases, and misconceptions that need to be exposed in order to improve our writing.

Working with you, in particular has been valuable because of your expertise in a very particular, and often overlooked (at least in my opinion) style of writing. Your creativity, in particular, helped me as that is perhaps my weakest area in almost everything. I am very regimented in my daily life, including academics and athletics, and I like having hard and fast rules for things. You were instrumental helping me get beyond those rules I had set for myself on what a “good essay” should be. This, I believe, improved my college essays.

The purpose of my working with you (and this is rigid and regimented me talking again) was to get me into college, and then grad school. In both cases, I was successful, and as such I feel it was most definitely worth it.

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions

6. SELF PORTRAIT

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

I spent a lot of time in high school feeling like I had to fit in somehow, and I got to SMU which, in some ways, was a very similar environment, but it taught me that there really was no reason for me to fit into any particular group, anywhere. I started out as an art major and really loved the friends I made in that program, and I went through rush, and ended up in a sorority, which was – oddly – one of the best things I did there. It gave me the skills that I needed to get by as a shy person. I still have that person, at my core, but now I can talk to a wall if I needed to, and I made incredible female friends as a result. When I was a sophomore, I changed majors from art to advertising, and my career.

When I graduated from SMU in 2006, most of my good friends stayed in Dallas while I moved to San Francisco. But even then, I knew it was never going to feel like home to me. I thought I’d stay three years and it ended up being five, but I reached the point where I was just ready to move on. So, just like that! I quit my job in advertising. I took a few months and traveled – went to Thailand with some friends, spent some time at our family’s place in the Berkshires and at Lake Tahoe, where Nat, my boyfriend, lived, and then, together, did a month-long road trip across the country to see if a place we liked struck us. Our trip ended in Portsmouth, NH, when we just looked at each other, totally surprised one night, and said, “This is it.”

@ Present

Professionally, when I came to Portsmouth, I committed to another shot at working in advertising, and quickly realized that it wasn’t advertising that was the problem, but the SF agency I had worked at.

I was brought on at a small agency here in Portsmouth to revitalize the place. I work in an office where I have a voice, and I’m looked to for leadership, so I’d like to see where it goes – we’re growing quickly and things are looking pretty rosy right now.

Even though I tend to be a planner, I’ve tried to make a practice of giving myself the space to be receptive to the unexpected: you never know when something will pop up that totally throws your “plan” off and it’s absolutely the better thing for you.

I’ve further nourished my creative side through my photography, which I’ve posted on my blog of all the travels I’ve described so far as well as a trip I took to Riga.

Looking Ahead

What I’d still like to accomplish in the future: I’ve always felt a little torn between my artistic side and a more practical business side, which, I guess you could say won out, but I still do a lot of photography, and always will. Some day, I would love to own my own advertising agency, but, for now, this job is keeping me pretty happy.

On a personal level, I feel like I’ve been looking for a real home for a very long time and Portsmouth feels like it. I’m so ready to feel like a part of a community here, and I would love to start a family. I want to be happy here; that’s the goal.

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

I really had a “moment” reading my essay when you sent it, especially how important Taizé has continued to be for me. I returned in the spring of my senior year of high school, and again my sophomore year of college, which brought about my change in major from art to advertising. Then one of the campus ministries heard that I had been before and asked me to lead a trip there, which I did my senior year. So seven times in all, and I wouldn’t rule out going back again.

Taizé is also where I first met Nat. He and I dated after that trip (he is from NH) and he was my senior prom date and first love. When he moved to Lake Tahoe, we dated long distance for about a year until I knew I was ready to leave SF.

It was a time when I felt like I measuring up to what I wanted for myself. Then, eventually I just realized that there is no measuring up. If you hold yourself to standards like that, you can’t succeed. So much of being happy is actually allowing yourself to be happy.

That’s another thing that struck me as I re-read that essay – how much I really haven’t changed since those words were written. Grown, yes; gathered more tools, yes;
but essentially changed? Nope.

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions

7. BIKEY

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

I was always in tune with politics in high school. I was a Republican – and still am, though much more moderate – so I didn’t wear it on my sleeve in CT.

I didn’t really get into it until sophomore year at SMU when I worked for a consulting firm in Dallas. I worked in the Dallas County sheriff’s race for a very good man. Since graduating in 2009, I’ve been in politics the whole time. I started as an assistant in a press office and worked my way up very quickly. I’m a young, moderate Republican – and there aren’t very many who see they way I see things here in a very conservative Texas. I spent a year-and-a-half working as the personal aide to Joe Straus, the speaker of the Texas House, before taking this job. I’ve tried to make it a point to work for the best people possible… although it can be awfully tough in this industry.

@ Present

I am currently running a congressional campaign in Beaumont, Texas. It is a newly redistricted seat left open by Ron Paul’s retirement (or election as President). This is my first real gig at the helm of the ship. I took a huge risk taking this job. I gave up a very good thing in Austin. But this would be a tremendous feather in my cap if I succeed.

I am not in the habit, nor are the candidates I work with, of trying to be something I’m not. I know what tools I have and how I can use them. It takes patience, sticking to what you know, and knowing who you are. If you can’t win off your own merits, you shouldn’t win at all. That’s a big thing for me. As a result, I’ve consistently worked for good men and women in the political realm who still have integrity. I also want to help elect the right people. I have a very high ethical standard for my candidate.

Looking Ahead

What I would like to accomplish is changing the way party politics is operated and why certain people seek public office. It shouldn’t be a promotion – it should be a public service.

In terms of the skills I’d still like to acquire: I could use a little more patience. I definitely need to be a little more cunning. Overall, I need to be a better delegator. I think that will come in time. I’m 24 and everyone around me I instruct is older than me.

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

Is there a connection between what I learned about myself from biking? I definitely think so.

The confidence and spirit of competition I developed when growing up, and certainly when biking, definitely applies to my experience in politics.

I’m “pedaling” my butt off to try and change things, when only time, experience, and money can really do that.

I also see the art of politics as involving constantly shifting gears and making a series of tiny adjustments. Both politics and fine-tuning a racing bike to achieve maximum efficiency take a lot of finesse, I can tell you that, ha ha.

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions

8. LEAP OF FAITH

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

I graduated from Wake Forest in 2010 with a BS in Health and Exercise Science and a minor in anthropology. But before that, the spring of 2009, I studied abroad in Switzerland, India, China, and South Africa taking courses in comparative health with a public health spin on things and spending a lot of time in both urban and rural settings in the three major countries (India, China, South Africa) and just had the most amazing experience. It was my first exposure to ‘public health’ and ‘global health.’

I’d love to say that’s how I found my way to my Masters, but actually some of the courses on my trip were taught really poorly, so I actually HATED public health at the start of my senior year. But then, back on campus when health reform was starting to move forward, I just had an amazing professor. At the very last minute, I applied to three schools for Public Health: BU, Brown and Yale, got into all three, chose Yale – and am about to graduate in May!

While here, I have completely thrown myself into my passion – childhood obesity. I worked this summer in DC at a giant advocacy group called “Center for Science in the Public Interest” on improving school meals.

@ Present

Yale is VERY different than Wake, so it was definitely very humbling to start grad school surrounded by people who have such an immense amount of knowledge and passion.

Then recently, I started to realize my own fire and the amount of knowledge I have gained over the two years – I co-directed a screening clinic for blood pressure/diabetes at a local food bank for the past year.

Another sidebar passion of mine is quality of care, and that probably comes from a lot of time in hospitals with my own grandparents.

There’s a lot of conversation here on how to improve quality of care – and one of the more liberal positions is to just provide universal care, which would level the playing field of care across the country, etc. But I see it as a deeper issue of motivation, with the need to develop incentives for good care through ‘pay for performance’ systems. Money becomes an issue in our campus discussions, but I don’t see those conversations as debates with a winner and loser. Instead, it’s just awesome that we can have this constant thoughts / ideas / conversations thrown out there and the fact that we as “new generation of public health” are constantly thinking about this!

Looking Ahead

There’s a Yale-sponsored center here called “Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.” I’m using data they collected two years ago on fundraising activities done by PTA/PTOs here in CT across all the different SES strata. Now there’s legislation about to be proposed about regulating the kinds of food that can be sold in schools, including regulating things like ‘bake sales’ and other fundraisers. This specific item REALLY upsets some parents, so hopefully what I’ll show out of this is that ‘non-food’ fundraisers raise equal or more $$ than food fundraisers. That means doing something ‘healthy’ like a “jump-rope-a-thon” is not detrimental to a school. What’s awesome is this will be the first real data collected on this topic, so my adviser is pretty confident this data will get published and possibly draw media attention.

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

Ah, my “Leap of Faith” essay. I still remember the process of getting there and thinking this can’t possibly work, but it completely did. And to reflect back on that essay, everything I’ve done – my travels to truly remote third world areas – as I’ve found my calling was SUCH a big leap. If you talked to my parents before I went abroad, I was freaking out, completely uncomfortable with stepping so far out of my boundary, But looking back, it was the best “out of comfort zone” experience i could have had – to say with confidence that I could get myself from my home stay at one end of the city of Bangalore to the other with no English signs and not speaking a word of Hindi – – that’s miles ahead of where I was before I left on that trip.

I am certain that linking that sort of leap to my high-school trip to Lourdes, my first exposure to public health in a way, has paved the way for the path I’ve chosen.

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions

9. DEAN’S COFFIN

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

Hey, let me start off by saying these were very good questions and I was impressed with the diligence required to come up with them. It’s been interesting going back and recalling the time during which I wrote those pieces.

It’s funny how things work out. I remember getting the rejection letter from Elon and being devastated, thinking that my potential engineering career was ruined. At the time, Chattanooga was a safety school and the thought of even staying there long after graduating was a far distant thought. So it’s been interesting to see the change.

Looking back on that day it was probably the best thing that has happened to me thus far. I never would have discovered Chattanooga if I had gone to Elon. The city has given me so many opportunities from a great job, to music inspiration, to a well-established running career and executive, and to a peaceful, friendly environment.

To show just how much I’ve grown here, I also have a strong case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. There are some days when the disorder really wears on me and it’s a struggle sometimes going about normal daily activities. So I have used to a lot of inner strength to fight that and keep on living a normal life as best as I can.

@ Present

Never would I have thought I’d be a sewer line engineer – that was far from being a golf course architect. Leadership, was definitely something I learned in the scouts that still applies with me today. It’s important to know when to do things yourself and when to delegate them to others. I learned this significantly as Troop Leader.

Never did I think I would play the piano again after I left it in disgust early in high school.
Today, I am recording a soft-rock 7-song album that tells the story of a man who goes through a breakup and finds himself in nature and the simple things of life. There are a lot of songs focusing on the beauty and grandeur of the Eastern Mountains of Tennessee. Also it’s very much influenced by bands from the 70’s and 80’s but still keeps a modern perspective.

I also manage a 500-member running club. I started off directing a race about 4 years ago and the board of directors liked what I was doing so they invited to join the board. As the race continued to grow, I was nominated for President of 2013 and was selected. It’s interesting taking on more executive role in races rather than a participant role. Both require a lot of work and planning but there’s a greater sense of accomplishment when you are the director and you know your efforts benefit someone other than yourself.

In general, I try to stay busy. I realize that I won’t be able to accomplish everything at once. But what I can do is give what I have to the commitments I have committed to. I try to stay away from just sitting down and watching TV. If I come home from work and I have some time I’ll try to do something. If I have a Saturday free, I’ll try to stay busy with anything productive. That’s just about all I can ask out myself. I put the most pressure on myself to get things done and keep things perfect. So I know if I’m meeting my expectations, then I’m meeting most everybody’s expectations.

Looking Ahead

At some point in my 20’s, I would like to see the whole nation. It’s very difficult now with all of my commitments, but perhaps when I’m 28 or 29, I can drive out west and see what I’ve haven’t seen before. Time provided I would drive up through Canada and explore Alaska for a while. The continent as a whole has some very beautiful scenery and I’ve seen maybe 2% of it. There’s a lot to explore and see. Other than keeping the job I currently have, that’s the big plan.

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

I wrote those essays about eight years ago and I never would have imagined my life to be what it is today. Thank you so much for doing this, it was a lot of fun answering these questions and bringing back some memories.

It’s allowed me to keep perspective on things. I remember when I wrote my essays, there was one about my connection to the Dominican Republic, where my mother is from, that I didn’t feel comfortable about including. Now I see that heritage in a different context. There are times when I’m not feeling so great and I can think back to those who don’t have as much. I saw a lot of that in the DR. It’s a very impoverished country and they really don’t have much in comparison to here. Keeping a perspective helps me to realize that there’s plenty that I still have, and plenty that I should thank the higher powers for.

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions

10. CLOSETS

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

Well, with that essay I was accepted to Fordham University’s College at Lincoln Center where I majored in Theatre Performance. After graduation in 2003, I moved to Brooklyn and auditioned and performed in a band while working temp jobs. In 2005, I got a full-time job at a small arts non-profit where I learned about arts management, and, in 2007, I became a company member of a performing arts collective, managing the company and performing with them. I still work with them and play in a band, but in 2007, I moved to a larger full-time job at an off-Broadway theatre company. Hard to believe that spans 12 years!

@ Present

I work on fundraising and marketing for the theatre’s capital project, building a new home in Brooklyn. It’s a job that entails being both creative and well organized. I run our young professionals patrons group: coming up with ideas for events and other engagements that are both interesting to NYC professionals and relate to our mission. I do extensive research on individuals and try to find links between their giving history and our mission – and manage all of this information in two databases. I write our monthly newsletter and manage our social media, both of which require creativity and organization in and of themselves!

My calendar is constantly at battle with itself, and I constantly have to make priority choices. I am lucky that, as of yet, my full time job has been extremely generous in terms of letting me shift my schedule.

At the same time, having flexibility is cool – but also very stressful. Making hard choices never gets easier, it seems.

Looking Ahead

After college, I was so focused on being independent and making my own way that I let some things take a back seat. I never really tried to make it as an actor. Now that I have a better idea of what I want, I think I’m more ready to take risks.

I have been feeling lately that I would like to spend more time focusing on performing and less time behind a desk. In a way, I feel like I might be ready to tackle the lifestyle that I wasn’t ready to tackle right after college – less financial stability, but more creative fulfillment.

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

It’s been fun to look back and try to make meaning of it all. And hey, I can’t help thinking that when I’m doing extensive research on potential donors, I’m actually piecing together whether their individual narratives fit our mission. That and the way I’ve been able to harness being both creative and organized to achieve my goals. Shades of the essay I wrote all those years ago!

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions

11. BENEATH THE SURFACE

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

It’s been, what? eight years? I’ve since graduated from Northeastern, in 2009, with a degree in mechanical engineering technology. I did some awesome internships while there, including working on vehicle aerodynamic simulations and robotic component design.

When I graduated, I stayed in the Boston area after school and am loving my location. I worked first for a year at Hasbro, as a project engineer.

@ Present

I now work at Laird, where I do mechanical design of antennas.

In addition, I’ve gotten awfully athletic. I started snowboarding a lot more since high school. I also started rock climbing (best sport ever!) and I run. Maybe I just need challenges now that school is over.

Looking Ahead

I still want to get my masters…

Within the next three years, I want to climb Mount Washington in the dead of winter…

And I want to be a successful, financially secure adult with a family that I love. 🙂

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

I’ve always been interested in the way things work and why things happen. It translates well to engineering just as it led me to the analytical essay I wrote about the special, hidden qualities of my childhood friends.

If you also recall, one of my passions during high school and 1 of my essays was my discovery of independent music. I was one of the very few people at the time who even knew of Pitchfork, which guided me to an exciting alternative aesthetic, which is very much in keeping with who I am. When I got to Boston, I used to attend a small indie show once or twice a week. It was my number one priority. These days, I don’t have the time to sit around and scour the internet for new music anymore. (I can’t even stream it at work!) So I’m more inclined to rely on suggestions from random people or (gasp!) the radio than I ever was before. I still go to a few shows a year, but my social life is interesting enough on its own that the music can be background, instead of the main event most of the time.

Speaking of those friends: here’s their longitudinal story: Mark has been to jail again, Pat still hasn’t cut his hair, and Mike is gay. It’s fun to know the future!

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions

12. MY MOM: THE PERSON WHO HAS INFLUENCED ME MOST

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

Since I wrote my essay eight years ago, I graduated from the University of Connecticut, had a few jobs in the corporate world, and grew in many directions.

@ Present

I am currently working as the Director of Marketing and Sales at Itsrelevant.com, a Stamford-based internet news site that focuses on Stamford high schools, community events and organizations, government, and local businesses, as well as offering a unique extremely local deals platform.

Looking Ahead

Like any recipe, there is always room for improvement. In ten years I would like to own my own company, and teaching my children the same lessons I learned so they too can be come successful, confident adults. In the meantime, I will keep adding new ingredients to my own recipe, knowing that it will end up a perfectly balanced blend.

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

It’s funny to think that something you write at age 17 could have such a profound effect on the rest of your life. As I sat and wrote my essay with Maxene, we took a dive into “what made me who I am today.” We used the ingredients/the process of making a tomato salad as a metaphor to describe a few events in my life that have, amazingly, set the course of my future achievements. To this day, whether it’s playing sports or being part of the ItsRelevant.com team, I still think in terms of right blend of talents and personalities that will arrive at excellence. I expect I always will!

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions

13. HOTEL CALIFORNIA

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

I got into Wake Forest early during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. I then graduated four years later, in 2010, moving onto law school at Elon University, because I wanted stay down here in NC.

I ended up double-majoring in economics and political science. I dealt with math frequently, and business every now and then, in my economics courses. I had an interest in economics from reading Freakonomics in high school, which was furthered after I took a required economics course at Wake. Political science was originally my minor, which I chose because it seemed like a popular choice for anyone interested in law school. I had enjoyed my poli-sci classes so much and wanted to take some other ones I had seen in the course catalog, which led me to figure out that I should just make it my second major.

@ Present

I’m currently in my second year of law school at Elon.

Looking Ahead

I think business/corporate law is where I am heading, but it’s too early to be certain right now. I’m keeping my options open.

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

In thinking back, I think the significance of that Eagles album was the strong connection it had with a simpler time in my life, and its ability to bring me back to that time with just a listen. I find that the album still has that effect on me, but I also see that various other songs are mentally tied to other events in my life. They evoke different emotions, but through the same process that I wrote about in my essay seven years ago.

I think the college essay process is a rare opportunity for deep introspection, and it allows someone at a rather young age to step back and think about his/her life so far. So it truly depends on both the question, and the writer (as well as anyone who is helping the writer, too). My essay about math didn’t reveal much about me that I didn’t know already or haven’t thought about before, so that wasn’t much of a stretch. But the essays about the Eagles and my one professor really broke new ground for me to think about, so I would say that they certainly had a life-changing effect on me. As I mentioned, the Eagles still invoke that emotion I wrote about years ago, and I still keep in contact with that professor I wrote about, and consider him to be a good friend of mine.

Those are connections that I may have never made without the help of you and the specific essay questions I was given from WFU. Those connections still are with me today, so as a result, I think the essay writing process did have a significant effect on me.

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions

14. SE HABLA ESPAÑOL

There is growing research in the field of narrative psychology indicating that the process of arriving at one’s unique story may have an ongoing impact on one's future attainments.

Click to see this essay writer's original college essay!

Then read the writer's response to these 4 questions:

  1. What have you been doing in the years immediately after you wrote this UU essay?
  2. What are you doing now?
  3. What do you yet plan to accomplish?
  4. What, if any, lasting impact do you feel the UU process has had on you?

Since College

I was a pretty mature high school student. I felt like I ended up choosing American University because Michigan never ended up working out, 🙁 which I’m still sad about until this day. I studied International Relations at AU with a focus in Latin American studies, and foreign policy, spending a year abroad in Argentina, and graduating in 2008. So yes, I now speak fluent Spanish! I also received my certificate of translation. I interned in a few places in DC during college, mainly NGOs, and was interested in pursuing development work. Then I became a guide in Costa Rica for Rustic Pathways, a summer program where high school students do adventure activities and community service. I barely made any money, but had a blast and traveled all over CR. When the summer was over, I traveled through the end of the year in Central America. Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama, and Mexico.

After living out of a backpack and traveling via bus all through Central America, I moved back home to CT. I wasn’t home very long because within a month I was off to Spain to work for three months for EDICOM, a software company based in Valencia. I never imagined myself in sales! Then they moved me back to NYC to help start the office in the US. One day, when I was bored at work, I found KAYAK 🙂 where I’ve been just about three years, eventually working in digital advertising, specializing in hotels.

@ Present

My main goal was to move and work abroad again, and sure enough, my company has just transferred me for two years to Zurich.

Looking Ahead

I want to travel and see the world. I live for that.

I have other goals too: to be financially responsible and save enough money to live off of if anything were to happen.

I want to find someone to be with for the rest of my life who shares in my love for travel and different cultures.

Ongoing Impact of UU Process

From the moment I detailed in my college essay, when I had my first real conversation in Spanish, my life has had incredible direction. I’ve always made things happen for myself, without expecting help from anyone else.

As a result, I’ve crossed borders that wouldn’t normally be crossed. I’ve been able to speak to indigenous people whom I never would have been able to speak to. They tell me all about their lives. I’ve been able to help people in need: when I witnessed a woman being robbed in Mexico, I was able to call the police in Spanish and help her. I’ve been able to go obscure places where most people who don’t speak Spanish would venture. I’ve had job opportunities that I never would have had without a second language. I’ve been able to communicate with my best friend who also speaks Spanish, and no one knows what we are talking about 🙂

I think about where I’d be had I done this or that all the time! That probably taught me more about what I didn’t want to do. And I truly had a good education, which is the most important. I didn’t have the football team or the craziest parties or anything, but the other stuff made up for it.

UU's Methodology Preliminary Conclusions
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