Posts Tagged ‘Harvard’

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  • “The workshop helped me to feel comfortable writing about myself and to work through my ideas to see what would work. It proved to be a crucial way for me to figure out what was most important to me and how to express that to the colleges I was applying to in the most articulate way. I highly recommend it as learning experience.”
  • Sophia Toles
  • Martha’s Vineyard Workshop Attendee
  • Class of 2012, Friends Academy
  • Class of 2016, Princeton University
  • “David Dent does a great job of helping students come up with revealing topics of their very own to consider for their college essays. He takes the time that is needed to transport your child beyond the routine parameters of his/her thinking to get there.”
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  • Class of 2014, Berkshire School
  • Class of 2018, Union College
  • “When Cameron came to Write for the Future, he was at the bottom of his class in writing and literature. In about 26 sessions, he has gone from a bottom to an A. It is so exhilarating to see this work-in-action. David and Write for the Future have proven that what they say, they do. Write for the Future is a testament to itself. … Now my son can analyze things, he can write things; there are not words to express the things he has done since he has been working with Write for the Future...I would recommend Write for the Future offers to anyone. You are investing in your child’s future,… and you will see the outcome of the product. Write for the Future has done wonders for my son. On Sundays, he always looks forward to his session…. I think it’s amazing.”
  • Lynn King,
  • Mother of Cameron King,
  • Class of 2016, Elisabeth Irwin High School

1000 Characters on a Work Experience

1000 Characters on a Work Experience

By Ian Batts

I interned at Fletcher Asset Management, a New York hedge fund, for three summers. In my first summer of 2009, I did not know what to expect. I only knew the firm asked for evidence of my math proficiency. I was a small, coy, soon-to-be freshman, who had never lived on his own. I lived in an apartment of my mom’s friend. I had to adapt to commuting, managing money, cooking dinner, and dealing with unfamiliar people who were often impatient. Wall Street was hectic in the wake of the housing collapse. However, I enjoyed my job and became much more independent. In my second summer, the fund entrusted me to analyze the collateral value of defaulting mortgages and present potential investments. In my third, I studied the firm’s operations and the options market. Financial skills that I acquired helped me to serve Green Door, a mental illness center where I volunteered last summer. I helped patients sift through financial details about federally provided care.

Ian Batts will be a freshman at Harvard in September.

 

Fights and Lessons

By Ian Batts

Two friends became enemies. Eric claimed I fouled him in a basketball game during recess. He pushed me. I pushed back. Blows followed. Everyone gathered for the first of three major experiences that taught me what is worthy of a fight.

“Mr. Phillips is coming,” yelled Derrick.

That fight ended.

We returned to our Sixth grade classroom. The teacher left the room for a minute. Eric, humiliated by the laughter of others, demonstrated the foul in front of everyone and accidentally ripped my shirt open from the breast pocket. In this competition, the victor was the one who arose least embarrassed, so nothing good would come of it. The fight resumed.

Mr. Phillips returned and saw this misguided battle for respect and ordered us to leave with him. I felt, perhaps, as empty as the very idea of competition for the purpose of diminishing others. Outside, Mr Phillips laughed and shared stories of fights with his brothers that are  “jokes of his past” today.

Months later, I saw wisdom in Mr. Phillip’s words when Eric and I were friends again and paired on a team in a math contest against the two top math students in the grade.  In preparation, Eric and I huddled most afternoons over math problems discovering trick questions to come in a contest based on knowledge, not grades. In an upset, we won and the true victory was a new understanding of competition worthy of a fight.  However, the primary memory is learning together–“learning” being the operative word. I look back on learning with my friend as a lesson demonstrating that an “A” may not necessarily mean that I had absorbed concepts any better than if I had received another grade.  After all, we defeated A+ students in math. No victory is as meaningful as learning itself.

Years later, the lesson followed me to U.S. History. Initially I was quiet in this class, as I was always more interested in ancient eras in other parts of the world. The teacher pried open my mouth, stressing debate and discussion.  Five minutes into one class he asked me with a grin, “What was the role of the Republicans during the Gilded Age?”  My answer failed to stand his scrutiny. After a few classes of  “being grilled,” I went to his office after school to re-examine our debate. I was half-expecting a huge debate. Armed with new knowledge, I hoped for my first win. I knocked on his door and heard a welcoming shout of “Batts!” We laughed and debated far beyond class discussions and I learned.

Afterwards, I read everything to prepare for a class trial prosecuting Andrew Carnegie for “immorality and dishonesty.” I would be fighting in the classroom again–only this was a meaningful fight for truth. I represented the plaintiffs of the Homestead Steel Works. I  changed how I competed; I had matured enough to see my  purpose was to show truth rather than defeat my opponent.

As juniors, students are geared to focus on grades to suit college-friendly transcripts. History rescued me from that regimen with the wisdom that learning has multiple paths, including competition. I then added U.S. History to my passion list and found a class to be a model of a real education: a challenge and a dialogue that changes a student’s thinking and behavior.

Ian Batts will be a freshman at Harvard University in the fall, following his gap year.

My Favorite Cupcake

by Sydney Sykes

I invented a cupcake for a student business competition last summer and the creation best describes me: vanilla cake, chocolate frosting and Oreo ice cream filling. It is the filling–the inside–that surprises the cupcake lover. She may feel satisfied with the yummy rich chocolate exterior, but she really falls in love with the surprise inside–ice cream.

Perhaps the first time I really confronted the conflict of my own frosting and filling was in South Africa the summer following my freshman year. Susan, my classmate at LEAD Global at the University of Capetown, asked a question about Tyler Perry’s movie, Madea’s Family Reunion.

“Is that how people in the U.S. are? Or the black people, are they like that?”

I immediately felt ashamed. Yes, this is just a movie, but unfortunately entertainment largely shapes the international image of African Americans.

“No, no, no.” I tried to be the race superwoman to her misguided train of thought.

“What are most African Americans like?” she asked “Are they like you?”

I hesitated, caught off guard by the complexity of the question. “No, they’re not.”

At that moment, I could not run from what looked like a big conflict between my frosting and filling. I felt like I had been procrastinating my whole life, and finally Susan’s question forced me to face the mirror I avoided all those years. She compelled me to question how I fit into my race, something unfinished in the back of my mind ever since Aaron, a white student in my Kindergarten class who is still a good friend, told me I wasn’t black. I’ve always explained to people that despite the light skin and eyes, curly hair, education, manner of speech, hobbies, and, more or less, everything about me, I am African American. Still, you can’t reduce me or any African American to universal black frosting.

My love for baking began four years ago, with the first dessert I ever made from scratch: cupcakes, which are perhaps the best way for me to address Susan’s questions. So let’s start from scratch again. We begin inside before we get to the frosting, since the center is the base of the cupcake. A cupcake’s frosting is partially decorative and not totally informative, just as race is only one part of a person’s identity. Through baking, I discover part of the answer to Susan’s question: race is a small part of a person’s recipe or identity. In the case of my cupcake, the ice cream or, inside, heavily creates the flavor just as my filling strongly drives my passions and interests, many of which are not at all tied to race. You taste my filling when I draw, cook, tutor elementary school students, rush to the net to score in a volleyball game or represent the U.S. at the League of Historical Cities conference in Nara, Japan. My sweet tooth is also part of my filling and pushed me into baking, not my race. And like me, my cupcakes are defined more by their fillings. Let’s allow the surprise to happen, before we try to guess the composition of the filling. Neither the foil nor the frosting can tell the full story which unfolds more with the surprise inside–perhaps the very best part of a cupcake.

Sydney Sykes is a Freshman at Harvard University and a 2012 graduate of Milton Academy in Milton, MA.