Rebecka’s College Essay

Rebecka Sokoloff, Writer

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I am a person with many variables which, in the end, add up to equal me. I am a creative, studious individual who enjoys painting and drawing anywhere there is a flat surface. There is also my athletic side: I am a competitive swimmer, and use these skills to help others learn how to swim, especially disadvantaged children. These characteristics are the result of having a sister with Down Syndrome.

My sister, Alexis, was born with Down Syndrome two years before I was born. My whole life has been shaped around a lifestyle of associating with kids with special needs. While many might think that this is challenging, I happen to think that my sister is a positive influence. My sister is the most enthusiastic, heartwarming person one will meet. She loves learning and is not afraid to try new extracurricular activities that are designed for people with no special needs. I can also guarantee you that no one loves sports as much as she does. All of her characteristics have shaped me to be the passionate person I am today. I have seen her work through her struggles and strengths, along with her interactions with others. She has taught me to never give up. She has provided me with the impetus to work with others and teach them skills not otherwise acquired.

One of my favorite extracurriculars is teaching underprivileged students how to swim. I decided to participate in this from watching my sister swim and from my own swimming career. Many of these kids have never swum before and are petrified of the water. Through patience and understanding, I have eliminated their fear of the water, and I applaud them when they began to swim for the first time. For example, a young boy I taught, named Evan, could not even put his toe in the water without being afraid. After just a few weeks, he was thrilled to jump in the water and work on kicking with the noodles. The lessons I have learned through these mentorships is the importance of patience, understanding, and the ability to relate to other’s needs.

Another positive characteristic I developed by watching my sister is being creative. From watching special needs children and the young children I teach to swim struggle to put on bathing caps, I knew there had to be a better product. After researching products on the internet, I found nothing. Shocked by this discovery, I started sketching my own swim cap. I created a few models and started to assemble them. My sister was my model. After many attempts and six months of trial and error, I developed a very useful swim cap that would be easy for anyone with dexterity issues to put on and take off. When I went to my parents with my creation, they were amazed at my product and had me meet with a patent attorney. I created a PowerPoint presentation, a written proposal, and a sketch model to send to the patent office. After a few weeks of communication, I received my patent pending number. Overjoyed with this news, the first person I told was my sister. All she wanted to do was brag and wear my swim cap whenever she went into the pool.

The lessons and characteristics I have acquired from my sister are all intertwined, just like an algebraic equation. Each variable builds on the next, in order to create a well-rounded me. While my foundation is not yet complete, my base is set. What is left for me is to further refine my critical thinking, my leadership, and my ability to create and enhance my patent pending. In the near future, please look for my swim products at your local sports store.

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