“With Honor” - the words that will be forever etched into my skin in several months’ time. Those two words describe exactly how I carry myself day in and day out, and those two words capture the essence of my heart and soul, which burn each day as though on fire with a passion for life. As I feel the needle puncturing my skin with ink, I know that I will never lose my will to fight to maintain a positive lifestyle.
My parents divorced when I was three, but although I lived with my mother and barely saw my father, it wasn’t only my mother who raised me. Her best friend, Dominic, and my grandfather had a huge part in my childhood – they were both like fathers to me in the absence of my own father. My grandfather was a teacher who valued learning very much, and he instilled that value in me early on. He always helped me with my homework, and took me to bookstores on a weekly basis. Dominic had a great sense of humor, and he never failed to put a smile on my face when I would otherwise have been in tears. He always took me places like amusement parks, gave me advice when I needed it, and helped my mother out financially when she was having problems. They both showed me so much love and affection I could never have asked for better fathers, but all that changed when I was about twelve years old.
My grandfather was put in the hospital because of a sudden illness on a Sunday back in June of 1998. Within a day of going into the hospital, he died. It was that sudden - one day he was doing great and the next he was dead because of heart complications.
Dominic, on the other hand, had been an alcoholic since he was 15 years old. He hardly ever drank by the time I was almost a teenager, but that didn’t undo the damage that had been done. Shortly before my grandfather passed away, he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. As time wore on he grew weaker and weaker, and needed blood transfusions more frequently. His skin turned a sallow color, and the whites of his eyes became yellow. Gone was the sparkling sense of humor I always loved, as he became a mere shadow of the person he used to be. Barely a year after my grandfather died, Dominic also passed away.
The death of these two men had a tremendous effect on my life. Over time, I reached the decision that I would never let myself die as Dominic had died, and I chose to abstain from drinking any alcohol, using any kind of drugs, or harming my body in any other way. I would conduct my life in a positive manner, and never let life bring me down to the point where I would be dependent on a substance. I will always carry myself ‘With Honor’, and the fire in my heart will always burn with a passion for living.
My grandfather, on the other hand, is one of the main reasons I chose to go into teaching. He was a graduate of Southern, which, aside from your location and excellent reputation for your teaching program, is one of the reasons I would love to attend your university. Being a teacher, my grandfather gave me such an appreciation for learning and a hunger for knowledge that I would love the opportunity to teach and inspire others to do great things in life. I would like to be an example that no matter how hard life can be, you always have the chance to set a positive example for people, and a chance to show them that life is what they choose to make it.
When life give you lemons, you are told to make lemonade. I’m choosing to not only make lemonade, but also to set up my own lemonade stand so that other people can benefit from the fruits of my labor. No matter where I end up in life, I will always conduct myself in a manner that would make my two fathers very proud. A light will always shine through my spirit, serving as a beacon to show others that they too can be proud to carry themselves ‘With Honor’.