American University Admission Essay Sample on Camp Counseling and Community Service

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College Admission Essay on Camp Counseling and Community Service

Essay by Jonathan Gaynes

The Georgia drought of 2007 set the stage. The water level at Lake Lanier was down at least 20 feet, and portions of land unexposed for years were completely visible. There were beer bottles, old soda cans, gas tanks, and even refrigerators; relics of our lives waiting for discovery by future archeologists. Interlaced among these artifacts were the true villains, mounds of plastic bags. They came in all sizes, shapes, and colors; from bite sized zip locks to large industrial garbage bags and everything in between, the place was trashed. But my true passion came from observations made in the middle of nowhere, our oceans. A sea captain described the horrific sites over the air on "This American Life." The five hotspots, each the size of Texas, are filled with plastic bags, basketballs, tires, and diapers all afloat in the middle of the ocean, as far as the eye can see.

Motivated by these two distinct issues, I felt compelled to take action. I created The Student Ecology Movement (SEM), a non-profit organization, dedicated to "protecting the world which we live in now to ensure a healthy planet for our children." I called directors and principals of schools around the metro Atlanta area and mobilized likeminded students, solicited donations, and created a plan to help make a difference at Lake Lanier. Together with a workforce of twenty-five teens and adults we cleaned over 700 pounds of trash from the bottom of Lake Lanier. This project was just the beginning of the many lake and river cleanups to follow.

Using these cleanups as a springboard, SEM gained recognition as an important local environmental organization with a story on FOX's local news, a front page feature in the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Living Section, and a showcase on a local radio station, WMLB. One thing led to another and soon I appeared as a guest speaker at the Sustainable Atlanta Round Table meeting and at the Atlanta's Bioneers Convention.

The ultimate display of activism came when SEM brought the international Park(ing) initiative to Atlanta. With ten SEM activists, we collaborated with the residents of Atlanta to transform parallel parking spots into temporary parks. For this project, SEM received donations of sod, blooming plants, and trees from local businesses and horticultural centers. The purpose of the project was to raise awareness about the lack of green space, and to show people how much pleasure a little green space can bring. I realized that events like this not only raised awareness, but spark necessary discussions in the community.

Simple river cleanups and Park(ing) days won't solve global warming, but hopefully will help spread the words of the sea captain who saw the miles and miles of trash. It is important for us to keep doing "the green thing" in order to preserve the world for our children's tomorrow. My passion is saving the environment, and I want to be that catalyst…that force which will encourage all people to take some form of action in saving our world.

Jonathan Gaynes attends American University.

Essay Review

"miles and miles of trash"

If the following essay were written about editing the school newspaper or playing a varsity sport, it would fall flat. But for a student with deep commitment to a genuinely unique activity, a factual description of what happened, and when, can create a unifying identity for an application. Jonathan Gaynes tells the story of his involvement with the Student Ecology Movement, and his accomplishments are so impressive that they speak for themselves. The essay succeeds because of the concrete actions he describes: calling principals, planning initiatives, organizing volunteers, speaking at a convention, etc. "My passion is saving the environment" would be an eye-roller in most essays, but Jonathan's previous accomplishments give him credibility that few students can match. In his words, "Writing has never come naturally to me. I worked through the essay with a wonderful college advisor, and got advice from my parents as well. It took me over five re-writes to eventually create the final version."

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