Essay for Duke: How My Brother John Has Changed Me
I received help in writing this essay from my father on earth and my father in heaven. My earthly father helped me to focus my thoughts and encouraged me to determine who I am, what is important to me, and how I have matured over the years. He also edited my essay. I incorporated his suggestions.
Before I wrote my essay, I prayed to God for wisdom and eloquence. He helped me to open up and see the world with new eyes. I defer to God for important personal decisions, and He has not let me down yet.
I want to matriculate at a school where I can learn and enjoy myself. Duke is a perfect match for me because it is strong in both of these areas. It is a strong academic institution with a real commitment to education and discovery. Duke’s hiring of nearly 100 new faculty members shows that the University, though it is already one of the best schools in the country, is always striving to make itself better. Student life at Duke is also excellent. The University has excellent Division I-A sports programs and provides many other opportunities for growth with its music program and clubs. Students enjoy attending Duke, and I want to have the same opportunity.
The advent of long-distance communication has been a mixed blessing for Western society. The distances between states and nations becomes smaller every day, but our relationships with the people and places closest to us are becoming more and more insignificant. The modern family often reflects this paradox: cellular phones and the Internet leave parents and children no more than a dial away, but the numerous opportunities for personal entertainment distract them so easily that family members can spend entire days in the same house without ever seeing each other. As a result, people often muddle through a nugatory existence where they meet everyone but grow close to no one. My family might have suffered the same fate if not for my youngest brother, John. He is autistic. This condition could have torn us apart, but instead it had the opposite effect. My experiences with John have brought my family together and made us more patient, forgiving, and compassionate.
John is 9 years old. He had many ear infections as a baby, so my parents were not concerned when he didn’t start talking. Time passed, however, and my parents became cognizant that something wasn’t right. He was very irritable and uncommunicative, and he often seemed to be in his own world. Eventually, he was diagnosed with autism, a behavioral disorder characterized by withdrawal from reality, repetitive behavior, and language disorder.
The news completely changed the complexion of my family. Finding a cure for John has become one of our top priorities. My parents tirelessly search for a cure, and in the meantime, we have done the best we can to reach out to John and make his life better. We’ve developed a lot of patience thanks to the mischief he often involves himself in, and communicating with him requires us to get out of our comfort zones and our busy lives and focus on him as a person.
Having an autistic brother is an experience that has helped make me a unique person and shaped my view of the world. John is a beautiful person. Thanks to him, I have much more respect for the handicapped, and I am always reminded of how blessed I am and how much I can do with my own gifts. His purity of spirit is inspirational; he is equal to, if not better than, “normal” people. John has had a positive impact on me and my family.