Southern Methodist University Application Essay Sample about Hobby or Interest

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Southern Methodist University Application Essay Sample

Essay by Christian Rautenstrauch

"We have to get to this turtle!" Mike yelled through the roaring wind and fierce rain that was pummeling our faces, when suddenly the ATV hit a bump and started pulling wildly to the left. Luckily, Mike yanked the steering wheel and slammed on the brake, regaining control of the vehicle. "Everybody okay? Where's Kyle?" he asked. Twenty feet behind us, Kyle, who had previously been hanging off the back but had been unable to hold on, let out a grunt, which we assumed meant that he was fine. We got out to survey the damage. The good news: we didn't have a flat tire as I had expected. The bad news: we didn't have a tire at all, as one had popped off and rolled somewhere into the darkness. Despite our predicament, all we had on our minds was saving the injured turtle. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

One night, when I was five and living in New Jersey, my family and I went to New York's Chinatown for dinner. While we were walking back to the car, I noticed a man selling baby turtles for one dollar out of a large plastic container. Of course, I wanted a turtle, because what five-year-old wouldn't? So I went to my dad, who was much easier than my mom to cajole into buying things, and let him know that I wanted a turtle. To my surprise, and even more so to my mom's, my dad pulled out his wallet and gave me a ten. "Yes!" I yelled. "What?" my mom screamed. "Gary, are you crazy? It's a turtle, what the heck are we going to do with a turtle?" "Don't worry Debbie," he must have whispered. "It will die in a few days, just let him get it." By the way, I'm currently writing this on our computer about ten feet from Kati, our thirteen-year-old turtle. I guess my dad made a slight miscalculation.

Ever since then, I have had a love for turtles, so when I found out about the Caretta Research Project, which is devoted to protecting and researching the nests of loggerhead turtles, I felt as if it had been created for me. For the past three summers, I have spent a week volunteering on Wassaw Island, a three-by-six mile island off the coast of Georgia that is exclusively dedicated to the project, doing everything from gathering egg and blood samples to registering tag numbers to protecting newly-hatched turtles from boars and raccoons. And this brings me back to my original story.

It was three in the morning, and Mike, Kyle, and I were patrolling the East half of the island, while everybody else was on the West. We were taking a quick break, when Mike got a message over his radio informing us that there was an injured turtle trapped in the dunes. Unfortunately, as you heard, we literally hit a bump in the road. So instead of trying to fix the tire, which we never ended up finding, we grabbed our turtle-tracking gear and ran almost a mile along the beach in the tumultuous rain until we finally found the turtle. Somehow we directed the turtle back towards the water, which was no easy task since it weighed about a thousand pounds. As the turtle entered the ocean, a sense of weary satisfaction came over me. One more turtle saved, our mission was complete.

Christian Rautenstrauch attends Southern Methodist University.

Essay Review

a mission to save a turtle

If you're wondering how to begin with an anecdote, look no further than Christian Rautenstrauch's tour de force about chasing a wayward turtle. The art of the anecdote is to give your reader the immediacy of being there, then pull back to provide the factual information necessary for everything to make sense. In this essay, Christian writes a full 150 words before deftly pulling back by saying that he is "getting ahead of himself." After two paragraphs of background that describe the roots of his affinity for turtles, Christian jumps back to his anecdote in the fourth paragraph. Note that he spends very little time describing how they saved the turtle. That part is unimportant. Christian has simply used a bump in the road to get at one of his long-standing interests, which is quirky and memorable. According to Christian, "When I sat down to write my essay, I knew what my general topic was going to be about but I didn't have a specific story that I was planning on sharing. I just sat at the computer for about thirty minutes and wrote whatever came into my head."

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