Nerve | Stanford University Undergraduate Application Essay

I clutched my binder and walked to the front of the room. This defense would be tough. A bill legalizing same‐sex marriage had never been passed at conference. With a nod, the chair silently granted me permission to speak. My lips parted, the words to my opening argument on the tip of my tongue.

My stomach was in knots as I paced the hallway, panic setting in. Breathe, I reminded myself, exhaling sharply. As homeroom was dismissed, students streamed into the hallway. Including him. I forced my legs to move; I was ready to utter only a single line: “Will you go to prom with me?”

I pried opened the tenth case to find a violin, strings missing, bow soiled. This one would take a week to rehabilitate. Sighing, I remembered my music teacher’s words. Kids were in exodus from the music classes without decent instruments, but this project could change everything. I surveyed the damage, hesitant to commit to the seemingly impossible.

I earned my Gold Award for creating an instrument library at my school, saw my bill become law, and survived my first rejection. What I’ve learned from these instances, put together, is that risks are worth taking. It’s important to have enough passion to rise above failure. So while I may feel reluctant, I…

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