1 Arara

Connecticut College Admission Essays Worked

Michelle B. Lee '18
Bishop Guertin High School, Nashua, New Hampshire

I spent my entire childhood engulfed in the world of my imagination. I spent countless hours draped in taffeta gowns of bubblegum pink, ocean blue and sunshiny yellow as a medieval princess: Lady Michelle. My castle was a nearby church and my moat was the concrete road. The jester? My brother Tom. I slipped a patch over my eye and sailed onto my bed, now Blackbeard’s pirate ship my treasure map drawn onto my wall in magic marker until Admiral Tom came in and revealed my map to the king and queen. Other days my lush backyard became dotted with tumbleweeds as I put on a hat to become a cowboy in the Wild West chasing the Indian, Sitting Tom. My saloon sheltered in my tree house. As I’ve grown into adolescence, my days of endless time travel have almost ended, my plaid skirt replacing the whimsical dresses and to-do lists replacing the hours of play. But not quite, my imagination and my world have one final fortress: Strawbery Banke.

At Strawbery Banke, a history museum comprised of restored houses, I exchange my skinny jeans for an empire waist dress complete with a bonnet and my world of imagination reopens. I am Mary Chase and my world is 1814, a time of James Madison and the war of 1812. Maybe, if you’re lucky, I’ll let you, the museum visitor, in on my secret: I flirt with the boys through the language of my fan. If I’m waving my fan quickly, I’m interested, but if I fan myself slowly? Run! My world morphs, and my empire waist dress turns into saddle shoes and a blouse and skirt cut from the same cloth. Before you know it, 1945 is in full swing and now I am Helen Jalicki, my life filled with radios, WWII and lines drawn up the backs of my legs with eyeliner pencils, since nylons are rationed. But don’t tell my mother! I look at the sailors over the fence of the navy shipyard too…my mother probably shouldn’t find out about that either! I trade in my saddle shoes for an A-line skirt with crinoline itching my thighs, now Betty Quackenbush’s. Enter my world of 1955 and watch my nifty TV as the Cold War shivers on outside. I’ll show you my Elvis record, slightly warped since I sleep with it under my pillow so my mom won’t find it.

The worlds of my imagination are released, at Strawbery Banke, from the confines of Hardy-Weinberg equations and conjugating the subjunctive case. Here I can recreate those worlds, but instead of just inviting my older brother in, I invite hundreds of strangers, not just into the museum, but into my world, my imagination, my spin on history. There are 300 years of American history and old guys with Ph.D.'s have already written the history books. But now I get to write the history from the viewpoints of 17-year-old girls. I get my chance to say yes, Eisenhower matters but so does Betty. Mary, Helen and Betty matter just as much as Hamilton, FDR and MacArthur. When I open up my little world of history to the visitors, I realize the power of the individual. Individuals matter because all of them can open up their worlds to others and share history. Every individual who has ever lived, has influenced history and left a mark. They’ve mattered. They mattered when they were alive; they still matter today. Maybe I’ll end up a homemaker like Helen with four kids and a doting husband or maybe I’ll follow my dreams and end up in Zambia living and breathing my passion: public health. But either way my little world and my story are so much bigger than I am because they are something shared, something communal. My world and my story are pieces of the pointillist painting of the human condition: history.

Elizabeth Varoli '18, Katonah, New York
John F. Kennedy Catholic High School, Somers, New York


I definitely didn’t become an adult when I was five. But it’s important I talk about a certain day when I was five in order to make sense of the day I did.

Recently, a freshman at my high school was sitting at my lunch table and started talking about 9/11. By the way he was talking, that infamous day was ancient history to him – something he read about in a textbook, something he expected no one at the table to remember personally.

I closed my eyes. I was downtown that day:

It is my third day of kindergarten at P.S. 89 and the principal has called a sudden assembly. My class lazily files into the auditorium. The principal tells us something bad has happened a few blocks away at the World Trade Center and before I can process this, my dad races into the building, completely disheveled. He grabs my older brother David and me and together we speed out of the school and now I’m scared. Looking up, I see a skyscraper I have passed every day, now with a massive, gaping hole. It’s black and red and it almost seems like I’m looking at a picture except I also know my younger brother Andrew attends pre- school at the WTC. The cops wouldn’t let us go south to get him, so we start walking, then racing, north. I’m not crying. I feel outside my feelings. The air is thick with something – soot? Dust? My dad tries to rip his dress shirt into squares to cover our mouths, but it won’t rip. A stranger walking near us instantly rips his own. Now we are running, me on my dad’s shoulders. Now we are alongside a lady we know. Now we are on a bus being handed construction masks which I do not want to wear because they make me feel like maybe I’ll suffocate.

Now it’s night. We still haven’t heard from my mom or little brother and it is 11 p.m. and we can’t go home, if our home is even still standing in Battery Park City. We are staying with the lady we were running with. I am watching TV on a blow-up mattress when finally she calls: my mom. She and my younger brother were evacuated by the Army Corps of Engineers and were safe. She had a late start and had not dropped Andrew off after all…

… Back at the lunch table, I opened my eyes. Someone had clearly just mentioned that I had been there that day. The freshman looked at me with wide eyes. He asked what it was like.

I could have mentioned my fear, the horror of losing possessions, the paralyzing dread wondering whether my mom and little brother were alive. Instead, I found myself talking about the man who ripped his shirt, the construction worker who forced me to wear a mask so I could stay healthy, the generosity of the woman who gave us a place to stay. As a result of that day, my life path was completely altered. I still wonder what direction it would have taken had I not been forced to leave the city.

And yet the day I became an adult wasn’t that day in 2001. It wasn’t when I was 5. It was in that lunchroom when I was 17, when I realized that I can choose how to remember something. I can choose to find meaning in that day, not in the horror but in other people’s kindness. I can’t choose what to remember but I can choose how to remember.

It is probably too soon to truly say I am an adult. But something did change in me that day and I feel different – I look forward to continuing to change, to sharing my experiences, and to learning what other people have to teach me.

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