Here’s the first of two sample winning essays I’m going to share with you guys. Remember me talking about the essay I wrote on democracy for a scholarship offered by the League of Women Voters organization? Things got a little sticky in the middle of the process, but I did not give up! Here’s the full essay:
Question: “What Am I Doing to Make Democracy Work?”
The Right to be Tried by a Jury of Your Peers
The gavel fell, and the judge announced, “I hereby sentence you to clean the graffiti off the store building, and to put in 30 volunteer hours assisting with the community youth center’s afterschool arts and crafts program.”
The defendant groaned and rolled his eyes, but I could see his clenched muscles relax in relief. My own face was outwardly stern and professional, but inside I was grinning like crazy. Although I had just finished prosecuting this defendant for vandalism, I couldn’t help but admire the unique masterpieces that he spray-painted illegally on the sides of private buildings around our city. The teenager needed to realize that there are consequences for a person’s actions, but I was glad to see him given an opportunity to put his artistic skills to good use, rather than being punished with a useless fine or time spent in a juvenile detention facility with the more hardened young criminals of our community. That is what my job is all about—exercising my freedom as an American to help our judicial system productively help the people it serves. This is why I feel that my participation in Youth Court enhances my responsibility in making democracy work.
In a healthy democracy, citizens have the information and skills to participate effectively in society. The Youth Court is a Juvenile Assessment Program that focuses on teaching young people their rights, and showing teenage offenders that in order for them to make an easier transition to adulthood they must be held accountable for their actions.
I am a volunteer for my local Youth Court, and through this program we strive to bring out the best in American democracy through proven strategies in civic education, family involvement, and community volunteerism. We volunteers serve in a real courtroom setting, taking on the responsibilities of prosecution and defense attorneys, clerks, or bailiffs.
Using this hands-on method, we arbitrate crimes committed by young offenders and develop their mistakes into lifelong learning experiences. Working together with one another to resolve problems for the common good is the key to healthy communities and stronger nations.
As participants in this program, the other volunteers and I are constantly applauded for our commitment in studying the issues placed before us and acting upon our opinions. With the help of local judges and attorneys, we have become politically educated, and have gained a better understanding of how government works and how we can make our voices heard. This knowledge has helped motivate us to get involved with helping other young people to learn about their own responsibilities within their community. As active youth, “We Are the People” and the future of this nation. Through my volunteer work with Youth Court and the influence I have had on my peers, I feel that I have contributed toward making democracy work—one case at a time.
Not too shabby, huh? Think you can do better? I bet you can, get writing! And check back soon for another example of a winning college scholarship essay.