College Application Essay

by Erin
Written August/September 2007

This is the essay I submitted in my college application for the Common Application “most influential figure” prompt.

Although no one word could adequately describe Mr. Holmes, “infectious” certainly comes close. Mr. Holmes, my chemistry teacher, is contagious in both his personality and passions. While for much of my life I claimed not to have any heroes at all, Mr. Holmes certainly fills that role for me now.

From day one of Honors Chemistry in tenth grade, he has fascinated me. He somehow captivated me while talking about tedious introductory material such as grading procedures. It takes a talented person to keep me focused at 9 AM when I’d rather still be lazing away on summer vacation. His skill impressed me, especially considering I wanted to be a teacher, too.

Unfortunately, as my sophomore year progressed, I began to reconsider my career aspirations. It seemed that everyone around me wished for me to become something “better.” In their opinions, if I became a teacher, I would be “wasting my talents,” and it didn’t take long before I started to believe it, too.

Not until January of my junior year did I realize that I had been right all along. By some chance, my hairdresser was talking to a friend about her son’s goals when I arrived for a haircut one morning.

“Erin here wants to be a teacher. English, right?” she said.

“Chemistry,” I blurted, and, as Esther Greenwood eloquently narrates in The Bell Jar (although under opposite circumstances), “I felt a deep shock, hearing myself say that, because the minute I said it, I knew it was true.”

Immediately I decided to tell Mr. Holmes. The excitement in his eyes when I informed him of my goals filled me with immeasurable elation. I was so relieved that I had finally found support for my dreams, and, as he told me about his experience pursuing the career and the rewards he’s gained while doing it, I knew I couldn’t live as anything else.

Since then, I have frequently talked with Mr. Holmes and have gotten to know him on a more personal level. I can see that he holds himself to extremely high standards, and I observe that reflected in his teaching style. I’ve realized that he puts so much effort into everything he does – into crafting his lessons, into forging honest relationships, and into living life to the fullest. Mr. Holmes’s outstanding teaching abilities and admirable character are something that I wish to emulate.

Now, I am thrilled to be his student again in his AP Chemistry class, and each day serves as a new opportunity for inspiration. Watching Mr. Holmes teach with his deep fervor for chemistry fuels my love for the subject, a feeling that I would never have been able to fathom without him. His desire for the success of all this students is undeniable, and, in thanks for his unwavering support and the influence he has had over me, I try to honor him every day as I chase the same dream.

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