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Prompt #4:  Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Sample Essay:


For most kids, September means fall sports, seeing friends in school, and homecoming. For me, September brings sadness, as it is the month I lost both of my grandmothers. Although they have been gone for several years, I continue to feel their absence as I look forward to high school graduation, college and building my own family. As the September days cool and the nights grow longer, memories of my Grandmas, Sharon and Arleen, fill my mind. I miss these two profoundly different women who helped shape me into who I am today. 

Grandma Sharon ignored my 9:00 pm bedtime. We stayed up until midnight playing poker with candy money, eating our winnings until our stomachs hurt. Her joy for life was remarkable given the responsibilities she had caring for my grandfather. She served as full-time caregiver to my grandfather who had a stroke before I was born. Her devoted care and unconditional love for my grandfather helped me learn the value of empathy and compassion. On my mom’s forty-sixth birthday, Grandma Sharon suffered an aneurysm and died before she made it to the hospital. I never got to say goodbye, but I took on caring for Pappy because she would have wanted that. We watch reruns of his favorite show “The Price is Right,” I tell him about school, my golf matches, and occasionally I take him for a ride in my car with the windows down. I prick his finger to check his blood sugar level and if we are in the green, I give him one of his favorites, peanut butter blossom cookies. I realize how difficult his life is, having limited mobility and relying on other people for basic necessities. His condition has made me aware of the fragility of our bodies and how vulnerable we are. I have learned to appreciate my healthy body and value the contribution I can make to improve his quality of life. 


Grandma Arleen, who I nicknamed Tickle Grandma at age two, attended my recitals and soccer games, always cheering me on. Unlike Grandma Sharon, she made me eat all of my vegetables and never allowed me to stay up past bedtime. When Tickle Grandma began to slur her words, we feared that she had a stroke, but her diagnosis was far worse; she had ALS. My once energetic Grandma could not participate in the life she loved, and ALS stole our remaining time with her. I watched as pain filled her eyes when she was put on a feeding tube and could no longer communicate or eat. She exemplified bravery and perseverance, fighting until the end. Unlike Grandma Sharon’s sudden death, we lost her slowly and painfully. 


I created a fundraiser, Birdies for ALS, to honor Tickle Grandma and raise funds and awareness to find a cure for this disease. Seventy sponsors pledged their support, raising $15,500 for the eighteen birdies I accumulated in tournament golf. The idea came to me during a spring match where I made four birdies. My father joked, “You could make money with your birdies.” Handing the check to the ALS representative was one of the proudest moments of my life and elicited the first genuine grin from my dad in a long while. I will continue to fundraise for ALS until a cure is found.


Grandma Sharon and Tickle Grandma were quite different women, but the values each instilled in me were equally valuable. Witnessing the care Tickle Grandma and Pappy received inspired me to major in biology and pursue a career in medicine. Although my grandmothers passed away before I ever broke 80 on the golf course, went to the prom, or became a medical professional, their legacies live within me. I want to make them proud by continuing to care for others in my personal and professional life, always leading a life guided by hard-work and empathy.

Prompt 4: Grandmas


  • Paragraph 1: Bring them into a moment in time with specificity before introducing the thing, person or experience that makes you happy or grateful - Lead with “I” because ultimately the essay is about yourself

    • The thesis should start with “I” - “I’m grateful/thankful for X because Y”

  • Paragraph 2/3: Bring in the personal details about who/what you are grateful for - tell a story within the paragraphs, and ensure that the story is connecting to your growth and development in addition to explaining your gratitude

  • Paragraph 4: The action paragraph - what action have you taken that was inspired by the gratitude and/or happiness 

    • Here is where you hammer in the contributions that you made to your community using the example you were shown by the person/thing/experience

                 Examples include starting a fundraiser, club or created something




  • Paragraph 5: Forward looking paragraph - how you will continue the legacy of thankfulness, gratitude and inspiration 

    • Here you can give details about future academic plans and professional life, in the same vein as your previous contributions based on your relationship with what you are grateful for (going into medicine, law, politics, etc.) to materially contribute to society through these values that were passed on 

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