Five Scholarship Questions
1. If you could have lunch with anyone, past or present, who would that be and why?
My lunch guest may not have a name. She may not even speak, and if she did, I would not understand her words. Her meal would differ greatly from my chicken sandwich, probably featuring more raw than cooked meats. She would look shorter and stockier than me, too. She would wear several furs to our engagement, but she would be unconcerned about protests. In fact, she might attack anyone who tried to take her pelts.
She, of course, would not be an ordinary human. In fact, she would not be a Homo sapien, but another species altogether. My lunch guest would be a Neanderthal.
Ever since my seventh grade math teacher gave me an issue of National Geographic on hominids, the creatures like us that once shared this planet have fascinated me. By meeting a Neanderthal, maybe I would learn the reason why this group of humans did not survive to modern times. At the same time, I would get some taste of what the world would be like if they had survived. The world might not seem so lonely if another intelligent species lived among us.
2. What is the most important thing you have learned about life?
Tonight, I must read a play that is fifty pages long, study for a physics test, finish up a lab report, complete a theology worksheet, and answer some scholarship essay questions. Rereading that list now, I wonder why I am not huddled beneath my sheets, moaning miserably at the prospect of so much work to do. Fortunately, I am still upright and typing, because I know that the play is readable and enjoyable, that the test is open-book and on material I understand, and that the questions will allow me to gain insight into myself. As for that lab…well, at least there is only one.
The most important lesson about life I have ever learned is that life is what a person makes of it. To use a cliché, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It may sound a little corny when phrased that way, but the message is still good. Life can seem like a series of trials and tribulations without a positive outlook, and approaching situations actively instead of passively can turn even a boring day into a life-changing experience.
3. Describe an event through which you have made a difference in your community.
When I was a sophomore, I became involved in a special service project. While it did not directly affect many people, the project itself was enormous. We cleaned the house of an elderly woman who had not been able to open her refrigerator in years and who was forced to crawl from room to room because of all the clutter. The police had threatened the woman with a fine if she did not clean her home within a few days, so my aunt, several neighbors, and I stepped in to help.
My job consisted mostly of hauling ancient cans of food from the basement to the dumpster. We hoped to remove anything from the cellar that might smell so we could seal the door and thereby prevent the woman from storing things down there and later forgetting about them.
The odor of the cans nauseated me, and my only comfort in carrying them was that by now, most of the food had seeped through the bottom, so the cans were relatively light. Later, when the house was finally clean, I felt a great sense of achievement, and I felt happy that I had helped make this woman’s life better.
4. What is your favorite quote and why?
“There is nothing truly noble in being superior to some other man. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.” Hindustani proverb
The competition at the top of academic pecking order is fierce. Every student is trying to force his or her way up. The emphasis is placed not on learning for learning’s sake or for pleasure but on getting better grades than the other guy.
I like this quote because it states clearly that society’s “keeping up with the Joneses” attitude is clearly wrong. Some competition is necessary for society to function, but letting the desire to succeed obscure more important things in life, like family, friends, and self-actualization, will only lead to feelings of emptiness.
In addition, it is important, like the quote says, to always strive to improve oneself. Only by concentrating on my own shortcomings and strengths will I reach a higher level of achievement. By focusing only on what others do better than me, I will only see them improve while I stagnate.
5. You have won the top prize on a game show: a huge, luxurious, fully furnished mansion! The only catch is that you cannot take more than three items with you from your old house. What would they be and why?
By instinct, the first thing I would grab would be my stack of notebooks. I have been writing stories and poems since third grade, and someday I want to have a career in writing. I treasure this collection of my work, not only for reviewing my progress but also for gathering ideas for future fiction and poetry.
Next, my hand would go for my favorite book, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I could never have made it through junior high without Anne. She suffered from the same problems and insecurities I did, but the fact that she made it through them always gave me hope for the future.
Lastly, I would take my first porcelain doll. I received her as a gift when I was only about five years old, and at the time, it was the best present I had ever received. This doll was no ordinary toy, but something special. It was breakable, and the fact that my parents felt safe giving it to me made me feel mature and important. Almost my entire life history passed before that doll’s eyes, and I would hate to lose the memories contained within that delicate head.
Copyright © 2002 Colleen Fischer | Last updated October 7, 2002