As you reflect on your life thus far, what has someone said, written or expressed in some fashion that is especially meaningful to you?
I shuddered. Chills raced down my spine. My arms and legs were suddenly covered in goose bumps. I read the quote once again. âTo leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success.â? The intensity of Emerson’s quote resounded in my head over and over again. It was eerily familiar, as if said to encompass my core values. Immediately, my mind raced back to the time my values began to form, my childhood in India.Images of helpless desperation and utter hopelessness flooded my mind. Lepers with severed limbs wheeling around in makeshift wooden carts in desperation for some mobility; a small, poverty-stricken, malnourished child, afflicted with jaundice and clothed in a potato sack; abandoned children, limping and vomiting, unaware of the polio viruses multiplying in their bodies, eventually causing paralysis. And to think, all of these epidemics remain prevalent because of the lack of basic and inexpensive medical care. I knew deep inside, even then, that my success depended on making a commitment to ameliorate those lives. But how was I going to undertake such a daunting task? I began to look at my grandfatherâs life as a model of my own.My grandfather initially triggered my sense of responsibility through his work, and served as a constant reminder to me of my moral obligation to serve the destitute. He, more so than I, grew up in a village watching Indiaâs most impoverished people suffer needlessly. He knew that he had a duty to improve the lives of these people, and through education he could live out his lifeâs purpose. As a result, he became the first in my family to leave the village, receive a college education and become a medical doctor. He spent the rest of his life providing free medical care, food, clothing, and shelter to indigent people. Watching my grandfather dedicate his life to service and charity inspired me to make it my responsibility to do the same.Coming to the United States afforded me the opportunity to continue my grandfather’s legacy on a grander scale. Being in this land of great opportunity, I was aware that I would have to work very hard to utilize the resources given to me, such as the potential for a strong postsecondary education. However, when I entered high school, the intense competition inherent in a typical high school environment clouded my purpose and caused me to lose sight of the big picture, the engraved images from my childhood. I became preoccupied with becoming the top student in my class by focusing on grades and activities so that I could boast on my college applications. It was at this point that Emerson’s quote abruptly reminded me of the true purpose and motivation for my education. It permanently instilled in me the belief that what truly matters in my life is using my education for the purpose of uplifting those who are deprived of basic necessities, the same belief that my grandfather based his life on.As a child, I was a passive observer of indigence and social injustices. As an educated adult, I choose to take an active role and involve myself on a personal level in the lives of the destitute, which will allow me to attain the success Emerson profoundly speaks of. Pursuing my education at Stanford University will allow me to attain the strong postsecondary education I have been seeking and afford me the opportunity to undertake the enormous task of helping to alleviate some of the suffering I witnessed in my childhood. Using my education, I hope to provide for those underserved victims the inexpensive yet necessary medical treatment, just like my grandfather. And if I ever lose sight of that big picture again, I can rely on Emersonâs words to keep me firmly rooted to my purpose of achieving this genuine form of success.