University of Massachusetts – Amherst Sample Essay
Prompt: Describe a situation where your values or beliefs were challenged . How did you react? (200-500 words)
Hanging above a simple Chinese alter in my living room is a faded picture of a slumbering baby. When I was eight years old, I asked my mother the infant’s identity. A strange look passed over her face, as though she were debating the wisdom of answering me. After a moment, she took my hand and said in a serious tone, “That is your brother Victor.” I laughed playfully at what I thought was a joke, exclaiming, “No, mommy, I don’t have a brother!” But the sadness with which she responded, stating “He died when he was a baby, ” convinced me it was true.
The shock of this revelation at such a tender age affected me as nothing ever would again. “My brother?” I repeated to myself. “I had a brother?” My confusion was profound; everything I knew about my little world was shattered, torn as ragged as the edges of the baby’s photo. >From that point onwards, my life changed dramatically. Reality replaced the simplicity of my former, carefree days, and thrust me into an adult world of sadness and pain. How could life be so unfair? What could a little baby have done to deserve this? I couldn’t answer these questions, which made me feel helpless and frustrated. At that age, comprehending death was a monumental task. I had only been exposed to it on television, with fictional characters I did not know. I never understood until that moment the finality of dying. I would never know my brother, or play with him, or even look into his eyes. The pain this caused within me has not lost its intensity to this day, and it never will. A wave of sadness always breaks over me when I think of him–even as I write these lines.
I had always longed for a brother, even before I learned my mother’s secret. An older brother to guide me and be my companion would have been a blessing. When I learned of my lost opportunity, I felt cheated. My entire life would be empty without Victor there to share it with me. There would always be something missing. For many years, I thought I would never escape the devastation of his death.
Five years ago, however, a miracle took place. My half sister Rebecca came into this world. I cannot explain the love I feel for her. When she looks at me with her bright eyes and tells me that she loves me, it brings me so much joy. Each one of her smiles is priceless. Best of all, she has something I have always longed for: an older brother to look up to, and to go to with her problems. That person is me! This knowledge is an overwhelming blessing. Through her, I can fulfill the role that Victor never had a chance to. I can guide her in the right paths, and be a shoulder to lean on for the rest of her life.
My relationship with Rebecca has been instrumental in dealing with Victor’s loss. She has given me purpose. This is my opportunity to be the elder brother that I always longed for. I look forward to this special gift every day of my life.