“Please talk about your favorite after-school activity in 250-300 words.”
WHAT??? When reading over this supplemental college essay prompt, I was struck with a feeling of being completely overwhelmed. After months of stressing and planning my applications are submitted and I’m finally rereading everything I wrote. How did I manage to write about USY, USCJ’s youth movement, the organization that has become my home, in less than 300 words? Was I able to convey my feeling for USY? Can the admissions counselors truly understand why I dedicate so much of my time to this “extracurricular activity” than they can only know as some Jewish acronym?
There are so many aspects of this community that cannot be replicated anywhere else. This organization is not just a group that creates activities for teens. It fosters an overall feeling of acceptance that makes everyone who comes to an event feel comfortable.
At my very first METNY, Metropolitan New York, USY encampment, I didn’t have enough time to be lonely. Within the first seven minutes I dropped my luggage off at the bunk, met three amazing girls, and linked arms with them as we explored the camp. There was an instantaneous bond as we roamed the paths of Ramah in the Berkshires and smiled at every new face we saw.
After my first eight days of USY bliss I was desperate to try USY on Wheels, USY’s summer teen tour across North America. Being on Bus C 2015 was the best experience I could have ever imagined. We drove to the top of Bear Mountain and hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I’ll never forget dancing at Navy Pier in Chicago, IL, hand in hand with my new best friends. Our Bus C family explored the United States #fromCtoshiningC and everything in between, falling in love with our country and becoming closer and closer. Through meals, music, and so much more, a lifetime of memories were made.
Forty-two best friends later, I found myself back home pondering why we did not have an active local USY chapter. It wasn’t because there weren’t enough Jews, that’s for sure and we had the spirited teens. There was nothing to hold us back. With this in mind, I started building my chapter. I needed to be thorough and detail-oriented and more than anything I wanted other Connecticut teens to fall in love with the organization that gives me so much joy. I was ready to take on as many board positions as necessary, speak to whomever I could, and work my butt off to make USY well-known. Overall, I was driven to become a leader in my local community.
When I began creating events such as dances, Jammin in your Jammies and Let’s Get Glowin, I got to use all my own ideas and convert them from thoughts to actions.
Saying that USY motivated me to be a leader is such an understatement. It taught me to be passionate and that if I care about something enough to smile about it, then I should be doing everything possible to get others to have this same experience.
The reality is that I didn’t write this because I needed to rant and I’m worried that I didn’t put enough detail into my essays-I know I didn’t. There are not enough words in the world to describe what USY has done for me and how I wish I could spend every minute paying it forward, but I want to make it clear that for anyone even considering becoming a part of this amazing community that the choice is clear.
Every day I think about my USY sisters and brothers all over the country, and I don’t have enough words to thank them for all the happiness they’ve brought me, enough words to describe USY, and enough words to BEG you to make the best decision of your life and to live USY to its fullest potential.