Ben had been working on his essay: Who are you? Having never really been trained in how to write an essay in the first place, this proved a challenge. Halle was able to give some ideas, and he worked on it while his mother was around to help give him ideas. He took the result to his counselor at school who offered some suggestions. After a significant re-write, I took the essay in to an essay reader at Johnson University. She tore it apart, and gave me a lot of good suggestions as to how to approach this project.
We went back to the drawing board. We spent hours researching the mission statements and descriptions of the kinds of students the colleges wanted from their websites. Ben was making notes, but he was a bit overwhelmed by the whole process for a day or so.
I got a call from the school counselor. She needed to be given access to the Common App to do her part, and Ben had not yet added her. We fixed that problem immediately. Also, he didn’t have a teacher reference, so I encouraged him to ask his Art teacher. As soon as she was asked, she wrote out the recommendation letter! She didn’t need any information from him. She already knew what to write about him! It was done in a day.
Thursday evening, we were invited to a dinner, and ended up sitting with a very friendly banker. He and his wife had hosted several international students in their home, and he engaged Ben in conversation. That seemed to be a turning point for Ben. On the way home, he said that after the ACT test on Saturday, he wanted to stay home and work on his essays. That was music to my ears.
For our devotional reading on Friday morning, we looked at 2 Corinthians 6. It is basically Paul’s Who Am I essay. We looked briefly at how he had presented himself and the opposition he had faced. What great timing!
On Friday, he began writing an essay about why he wanted to study engineering. I asked him what he had said thus far. Was it something that would make a college want to pay him $40,000 a year for? “No!” was the reply. Well, we had better work on it. By the end of the evening, he had an amazing essay!
On Saturday morning before taking the ACT, our reading was from Isaiah 26 reminded us that “all we have accomplished is really from (God)”. Also, that passages says God “will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
It is early Sunday morning as I write this. The applications are due in on Wednesday. Yesterday afternoon, Ben began to think again about his Who Am I essay. As we had read over the description of the type of students Duke wants in their engineering department, it seemed they were describing Ben. I told him that I thought Duke was his college, and he just had to help them see that. He looked at me for a bit, and then said, “Do you think I can really get into Duke?”
“Yes,” was my immediate response. “That is your school! “
Inspired, he began to write and didn’t move for nearly three hours. His mind was racing with ideas. When he finished, he said, “I’m fried. There is nothing left to say.”
The essay has 300 words too many, but that is easily remedied with some editing. I haven’t read it yet, but expect to find it much better than the previous efforts. Every now and then, he would look over at me and catch my eye. He seemed to say, “I believe I can do this, do you?” My eyes would say, “yes”, and he would take off again. It was truly an inspired evening for him.
As I think about it now, in the early hours of Sunday, I realize that this year has been on a path that none of us could see. The timing of events that turned the course of our direction, the intervention of teachers and individuals, the contacts, the opportunities have all directed us. I see God’s hand clearly in these events. God has a plan and a purpose. I think that plans for Ben include Duke, but even if it doesn’t, I know that wherever he ends up, God will have put him there, and used me to help facilitate it. What a journey!