Common App Essay Sample

Isabel Pardo

Prompt: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.



“Thank You for calling the Bernardsville Animal Hospital, this is Isabel speaking, how may I help you?”  I watch the last client be pulled out the door by a fluffy white German Shepherd puppy as I schedule an appointment for the client on the phone. I then resume with my other tasks–preparing files and appointments for the next day. I have specific responsibilities that I need to know how to do automatically and according to the doctor’s preferences; the necessity of ritual in a place that constantly changes is just one of many things I have learned while working here.

Heaving up two cases of  low-fat cat food cans and a bag of  dog kibble, I gingerly walk down the steps as my fingers uncomfortably grip the edges of the metal cans. One of the office cats, Quincy, scurries past me as I open the door to the storage room. The warm humid air sticks on my skin as I rest the food on the condensation covered freezer. The inside of it describes instructions for different meats and vegetables; however, there are no instructions for what lays inside. The euthanasia from this morning awaits the cremation company to come and take him away. I was the one to give his owners a comforting knowing smile as they left; we all knew it had to be done. As I stack the cases on their proper shelf, I ponder the irony of the fuzzy memento mori. On the same day we put down a dog, we welcome a puppy for his first appointment. This is a real hospital, but we deal with both the pets and their owners, and humans act very different around their animals. I feel much older after thinking that; then I quickly pace away from the dark opening into the rest of the basement; I don’t know what’s back there, and I do not want to know. I guess some childish tendencies never leave.

Quincy comes over to me as I prepare his dinner. He meows and places his grey fur-covered paw on my arm as he looks at me with desirous turmeric eyes. Amplified purrs rumble in his body as I place him with his food in his cage.

“Quincy, honey,” I say as I stroke his fur, “you have an unhealthier relationship with food than a teenage girl.” He ignores me as he continues to wolf down the wet stew-like delicacy that sits in front of him. I then piece the clinic back together: putting new syringes and stock in their respective drawers, sanitizing the exam rooms, and acting out the part of Cinderella as I mop the floors. After I decontaminate each room and ready it for tomorrow’s new mess, I am able to go home.

“See you on Thursday, Marla!” I call out.  

I clock out and lug out two black garbage bags like Santa Claus and deliver them to their cans. I listen to the doppler effect as cars blow my hair back when passing. Crossing the street becomes easier when drivers see a teenager dressed in enchanting medical green scrubs; personally, I hate the outfit, but it makes me feel respected. Ironically, I have no interest in pursuing the medical profession.

I sit in my car, take a deep breath, and pull my hair out of its ponytail. My hands still have the powdery feel from the plastic gloves mixed with the chemical smell from cleaning supplies. I take the crumpled notepad out from my pocket and look at my completed to-do-list: laundry, cut nails, give baths, make charts and call, clean, garbage. Then, there are the additional unwritten tasks the doctors trust me to do after months of being here. Before I put my car in reverse, I call my mom and let her know that I’ll be home in time for dinner.