Harvard University Admission Essay Sample about Politics and Religion

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College Admission Essay on Politics and Religion

Essay by Melanie Naranjo

Some nights we took the route along the Hudson River. My mom drove past the boisterous New York lights and down a few, potholed roads. She pulled to a stop in front of a small, gray building that crouched between a blinking medley of bodegas. The building's roof capped cracked cement walls and Pablo, a prominent preacher, stood at the doors to greet us. When a man's voice vibrated through a microphone, my mom rushed me towards the gathering room. Before we took our seats, she dropped a five dollar bill into the wooden collector's box, smiling at the nod of approval from the preacher on our left.

It was a plain room, easily confused for a hotel lobby with its bare, cream walls. Its only distinguishing feature was a glass-framed bookcase holding the Kingdom Hall's many biblical volumes. During my daily preparations, I often used Mi Libro de Historias Biblicas. My annotated copy trembled on my lap as I kicked the air, impatient. As a six year old, I was always eager to show off my new reading skills. When the speaker's words finally hitched up into a question, worm-like fingers wriggled wildly into the air. At the preacher's call, I answered, "El futuro rei de la tierra," then beamed when my mom squeezed my hand, proud.

Jesus, Jehovah's son and " the earth's future king." It's strange to think I once believed those words. I memorized everything without question, including my mom's stories of Satan hiding in Catholic churches, which explained why my Catholic friends never attended mass. My mom told me of threatening, pointed arches stabbing the air and hundreds of candles casting taunting shadows against decaying stone walls. But most terrifying of all were her depictions of the statues: wide, unblinking eyes on ghostly pale faces, constantly watching and waiting. It was through these eyes, she said, that the Devil slithered out.

The images pierced me so deeply as a child that, just last year, I found myself unnerved as I walked towards my first cathédrale along la rue Saint-Mélaine; I feared that my mom's words might not have been as false as I had come to believe. Inside, wooden doors carved with delicate, twisting patterns opened to carefully painted murals lining le déambulatoire at the east end. A dazzling explosion of light filtered through the vitres all around me, a kaleidoscope of religious tales. The statues along the wall gazed serenely into the air. I saw no serpents in their water-clear eyes, but felt myself drawn by their outstretched arms. I cupped two smoothly chiseled hands, frozen in prayer. Somewhere to my right I heard a mother's soft murmurs of praise. "Très bien, ma bichette. Très bien." The words mingled with the sound of rustling footsteps, ricocheting like a thousand marbles let loose against the walls. I stepped out of this architectural masterpiece and away from my religious past. I set out to see more.

Melanie Naranjo attends Harvard University.

Essay Review

the devil slitghering

Religion is not high on our list of recommended topics—unless you've got an angle like Melanie Naranjo's. Most religion essays talk about belief, which leads into the realm of abstraction. This essay describes Melanie's experiences. The fact that her beliefs follow from them is significant but secondary. Without telling, she shows the diversity that she would bring to a selective college. No less important, she demonstrates the intellectual courage to rethink her views, a sure sign that she will also benefit from life at a selective college. In Melanie's description of how she "kicked the air," we can almost see the dangling legs of a little girl. "I went through multiple drafts, changing the introduction, rearranging the order of events, and weeding out any passive phrases or unnecessary words, in order to make the story as concise as possible," she says.

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