Common app essay feedback
So, I just completed my rough draft and would love some feedback.
I was five years old at the time. My mother was in the kitchen preparing dinner for our family of eight, and my father was busy working in the basement of our home. Having just completed our schoolwork, my brother and I were eager to go outside and play. It never occurred to me before, but while outside the question finally came to mind: Why did we never play with any of the neighborhood kids?
This question perplexed me, and I thought it over for some time. I always knew that my family stood in stark contrast with the traditional white suburban families that surrounded us. My father, a Cuban-born ex-convict, operated a post-prison ministry out of our home. Consequently, we always had at least four recently released ex-convicts living with us, but it had never occurred to me that this might be what prevented the neighborhood children from coming over. I had always viewed the men that came into our house as part of our family, but most of the neighborhood parents deemed our house too dangerous for their children. This meant that friends would have to be a necessary sacrifice during my toddler years.
However, the benefits of growing up in a “halfway house” significantly overshadowed the difficulties that I sometimes faced. A necessary part of my father’s job was traveling. He has traveled all over the world teaching churches and other organizations how to implement his ministry house model. Since my brother and I were homeschooled until eighth grade, we were able to travel with him. As a result, I have had the privilege of going to four countries and over thirty-five states. Our family travels have afforded me some very amazing experiences, but one of our frequent destinations particularly stands out.
Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola prison, is one of the most unique environments I have ever been in. We have visited this prison so often that it is safe to call it my second home. Once known as America’s bloodiest prison, Angola is now one of America’s safest. Its radical transformation is due to the faith-based programs that Warden Burl Cain has allowed to flourish there. Going there has given me the opportunity to see lives truly transformed. It has been amazing to see inmates convicted of murder, now joyfully serving the community and their fellow inmates through programs such as hospice and disaster relief.
Prison and post-prison ministry have been a huge part of my life. Growing up with ex-convicts and staying in prisons have granted me some very unique perspectives on life. I have seen on a first hand basis the consequences of some very stupid decisions. These men, and sometimes women, have taught me invaluable lessons on decision making, relationships, and forgiveness. I thank God that He has allowed me to learn these lessons earlier rather than later.