Essay

January 6, 2020

Brendan McDermott

Bleary eyes, hunched shoulders and a throbbing headache from information overload — no I'm not describing my late night study sessions. I'm imagining what scholarship applications must feel like from your perspective. Before you read any farther, I encourage you to indulge in a stretch break. It's important to me that you view my essay, and me, with refreshed eyes and renewed energy. You know my G.P.A. and my SAT score. But what do they have to do with me? Where's Brendan? Buckle your seatbelt and get ready for a crash course in me.

I'll tell you right off the bat what it took me quite a while to realize. I am a leader. I don't pursue leadership opportunities to position myself as top dog or to win praise; rather I see my world as a place where I can make things happen.

My entrée into leadership, and one of my proudest accomplishments, occurred while I was the vice president of my middle school. After the students raised several hundred dollars to hold a "Field Day", the cash-strapped school district seized our funds. Most students and teachers disappointedly accepted the decision, but I took action by assembling a petition to the district asking that our funds be returned. I had a two hour "discussion" with the principal, where she chastised me and insisted "Field Day won't happen!" I stood firm, making the local media aware of the situation and a news radio station took up our cause. It was quite a roller coaster ride, but suffice it to say, Field Day did most certainly happen, and the principal and I grew to have a great deal of mutual understanding and respect.

Leadership drives me. It drives me academically, as I achieved Eagle rank in scouting, while acting in Community Theater, in political campaigning, in Model UN and in American Legion's Boys' State and Boys' Nation programs. Leadership isn't a position to me; it is how I embrace my personal power and responsibility to affect positive change, and make the most of every opportunity and blessing I have been given.

Don't think leadership is all I am, however. I have lots of talents and quirks that would add to the diversity and personality of any university. I sleep with my eyes open. I'm left handed. John McCain nearly ran me over once, and I've seen Barack Obama three times. I lost 75 pounds during my freshman year and beat bulimia. I am a regular lector; otherwise my church attendance is terrible, but I've read the Bible cover-to-cover and pray daily. I am a force to be reckoned with on the intramural badminton court. I am 100% Irish, and 100% man. I'm an intellectual, an actor, a political animal to the core, an optimistic, a cynic and a romantic.

I hope that you feel that the full picture of Brendan is worth investing in. I know you have many students competing for a limited amount of JBL Scholarship money, and I'm confident that my commitment and effort will make your investment worthwhile. It is my pledge that your belief in me will be returned one hundred fold in dedication and achievement.

So before you move on to the next application, please accept my sincere thanks for your interest and attention. Brendan was here.

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