A Lesson on Service from a College Essay

Last fall, 2018 graduate Emma Carter submitted the following essay to the admissions staff at Texas A&M University. The essay prompt: You’ve got a ticket in your hand – Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there? Emma, now a freshman at MidAmerica Nazarene University, answered from her heart – and from an experience she’d had while serving in Ethiopia earlier that summer.

Travel has always been something our family loves to do, but the ticket in my hand wouldn’t be to just view the world, but rather to change the world. This ticket would return to Makale, Tigre, Ethiopia. Ethiopia has a culture that is broken and full of much heartbreak. The community is very behind in technology, and even more so in medical technology. Disease and sickness are common. Childhood death is tragically familiar.

Makele is a town a few hours outside of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Makele is a city that is delayed in technology advancement. Roads are unpaved, buildings unfinished, animals wander and sewage is neglected. Makale has a hospital in the city. However, it is not by any means a hospital that fits American standards. The bathrooms are holes in the ground, the beds have dirty sheets, the technology is years behind, and the surgeons and nurses aren’t fully trained. Makele overlooks the region of Tigre. The rural regions of Tigre have even more limited resources. Arriving in Ethiopia, I would go and visit the Tigre El Shadai orphanage and connect with all the children I previously met. The main purpose for traveling back to Ethiopia would be to medically serve the rural community. I have an aching heart for the pregnant women who don’t have doctors to check on their babies, or men who have skin diseases that turn deadly without a simple treatment. With ticket to Ethiopia, I would serve compassionately in a clinic to help the little girl who cannot see her parents faces because she doesn’t have a pair of glasses. With a ticket to Ethiopia, I would treat children with HIV and AIDS, vaccinate children against typhoid, and recognize and treat malaria. Every young child would receive medication for abdominal worms.

Another big broken piece in Ethiopia is their economic structure. Traveling back to Ethiopia I would help destitute women start their own businesses so they could help provide for their families. I would partner with the Adera foundation, supported by recent Texas A&M graduate, Mandy Miller. Adera means “We’ll get it done” in Amharic, the language of Ethiopia. Adera partners with the government to find women and their families who live in the dump, placing them into a program in which they can start businesses. This program has three different parts: focusing on education, income, and health. The first part allows women to have daycare coverage that feeds the children,
bathes them, clothes them, teaches them, and provides 6 month medical check-ups. A second part of Adera is for the women. Adera helps the women start simple businesses where they can generate income. They make bracelets in a bead shop, work in a bakery, cook for the school, or find other meaningful, sustaining income. The school is the third part of Adera. Children who live on the dump are put into a schooling program so they can have opportunity to move out of their deplorable circumstances through the gift of education.

The ticket in my hand is a first class ticket. Serving is a team sport. We would exchange this first class ticket for several economy class tickets, so three friends who have been inspired by the stories could share in the adventure. The 12th man can influence the outcome of a football game. The 12th man applied to service harnesses the power to change the world.

This ticket is fictional, but these places, these people, and these opportunities are real. For the admission and scholarship officers reading this essay, I request this ticket to Texas A&M. With this ticket, I will go back to Ethiopia some day, in some capacity, and bring with me the strength of A&M. Also, consider turning the question inside-out. You also have a ticket in your hand. Sponsor an orphan. Adopt a child. Travel to Ethiopia and serve. Let’s go change the world together!!