Southern Methodist University Admission Essay Sample on Racial or Cultural Differences

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Southern Methodist University Application Essay Sample on Racial or Cultural Differences

Essay by Jessica Lynn Parr

"A time for warm hearts and hot guts." This is the slogan of the annual Hogeye Festival in the Hot Sausage Capital of the World: my hometown of Elgin, Texas. I have lived on Pistol Hill Ranch in Elgin, population c. 5000, for all but the first two of my seventeen years. I have grown up on small-town morals, values, and ways of life. Elgin is a place where parents still teach their children to say "yes, ma'am" and "no, sir." Wiry old cowboys with weathered leather for skin take their coffee black at the City Cafe, and most men have two pairs of cowboy boots: one for working, and one for Sunday church. I can count on running into at least a handful of people I know upon each trip to the local H-E-B grocery store or the Elgin Post Office. Employees at Main Street Pharmacy and Ace Hardware have known me since I was a little girl too small to see over the counter. A familiar sight as I drive down Main Street is of men in Wrangler jeans, western shirts, cowboy hats, boots, and shiny rodeo belt buckles, leaning on their 4x4 trucks as they discuss all the important issues of slow but friendly small town life.

My parents and I live on about 140 acres of land where we raise cattle and farm hay. For as long as I can remember, ranch work has been a way of life for my family. Many summer days spent working in the hay fields and barns last until midnight or even later. My mom taught me to drive my Granny's maroon 1983 Buick Regal when I was only nine years old, so that I could take fresh ice water and box lunches out to my dad and the other workers on the farm. My parents both hold full-time jobs and yet they still manage to keep up with our ranch in their scarce spare time. I learned my earnest and diligent work ethic from their tireless examples. I remember the looks I got as a middle-schooler from the teenage boys working as hired hands on our ranch when I hopped out of the truck with my own pair of work gloves to help load the sixty-five pound square bales of hay. I have even had farmer's tan lines from driving our John Deere 4020 tractor all day long cutting and raking hay. I know the feeling of aching muscles and itchy bits of hay from head to toe after a long day laboring in the hot sun. I have grown up as Daddy's little cowgirl and ranch hand, and have learned invaluable lessons about agriculture, livestock, and the workings of a close-knit small-town community.

On the flip side of the coin, I have attended private school in Austin, the "big city" nearest to Elgin, since second grade. Top priority for my parents has always been that I obtain the best possible education, and thus they chose to place me in private school despite the daily hardship of commuting. My high school is at the complete opposite end of the socioeconomic spectrum from Elgin. Many of my peers at St. Andrew's drive Mercedes-Benzs or BMWs instead of muddy 4x4 trucks and old rusted hand-me-down cars. I attend a school where 100 percent of our graduates enroll in four-year colleges, whereas in Elgin, a great many students work and attend a community college or trade school part-time after receiving their high school diplomas. Granted, there are several exceptions to either rule, however my point is to demonstrate how different these two worlds really are. I realize how privileged I am to attend my high school, and thus have always completely dedicated myself to taking full advantage of every opportunity. I commute a full hour each way to and from school, but have nevertheless participated in a fitness conditioning class that required I be at school by 6:15 every morning, musical rehearsals that kept me at school until ten o'clock on some nights, and demanding varsity sports schedules. My high school has given me a first-class education with infinite opportunities, and my exceptional environment has made it impossible for me to ever take these privileges for granted.

I have always been a little bit different because of my circumstances. My friends at school never tire of joking about the fact that I live on a farm with real cows. In Elgin, my friends have often teased me about being "too good" for their public school, or given me a hard time about spending half my life thirty-eight miles away in Austin. However, both sets of friends know me well enough to understand my dedication to education, and respect me for my unusual circumstances. I am fortunate to have such a broadened perspective as a result of my dual experiences. I recognize that my experiences are extraordinary, and I cherish the fact that I am able to enjoy the best of both worlds. Thanks to my unique background, I have an ability to adapt easily to new social and cultural climates. I bring my own distinct perspective to a situation because I have thrived simultaneously in two very different environments.

Jessica Lynn Parr attends Southern Methodist University.

Essay Review

country girl, private school

The two worlds of author Jessica Lynn Parr come together in this engaging essay. She uses the first part to tell about the most exotic of the two, her tiny home town of Elgin, Texas. Images of small town life—from the local hardware store to the annual hay harvest—offer a sharp contrast to the more affluent culture of Jessica's private school. Another key to the essay is her ability to tell about both worlds without being judgmental of either, in the process demonstrating the sort of flexibility that is necessary to thrive in a new environment such as college.

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