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Describe the most important experience with adversity you have encountered. Tell us about how you responded, coped, or triumphed. The seriousness of the adversity is less important than the thoughtfulness with which you describe how you responded and what you think you learned. (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)
Recently, I encountered adversity. For the past two years, I have been working at the Highlands at Pittsford, a nursing home. The Highlands at Pittsford is a very safe place where no one would suspect anything bad could happen. However, on April 28, 2000, things did not go as planned.
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The workday progressed as normal, but there was a new worker that day. It was someone whom I had never seen before. She was a very quiet person, so I did not get to talk to her much. Ella, the new worker, finished first and was the first to leave. Suddenly, a man ran into the kitchen telling Ralph and me that someone had been shot. Ralph, the cook, and I initially thought the man was playing some joke on us, but from the fright in his eyes and the wrinkles on his face, I could tell he was feeling a lot of anxiety.
Ralph and I followed this man out, and I saw the scariest sight of my life. A woman was lying on the ground, listless with no emotion or movement. My knees were trembling, and I was feeling hysterical. Ralph ran inside the kitchen to call the cops. I could hear Ella’s mother yell, “Jesus, why did you take my baby away from me?” I saw her mother and her brother crying by Ella’s corpse. I put my arms around both of them, trying to be as comforting as possible. I told them that I understood what they were going through, that the world is a cruel place. I reassured them that the person who shot Ella would be brought to justice. Tears streamed down my face uncontrollably. Stealthily, I went over to see all the places where Ella had been shot. The fresh blood was gushing out from five distinct places on her back.
Ralph joined the mourners and me. He informed me that the police and the ambulance were on their way. When they arrived, Ralph told me to go home and rest. He said I could have the next day off. Before I could leave, the security guard interrogated me. He asked me if I had seen the person who shot Ella. I told him that I had not gotten the chance to see the suspect.
That night, I was unable to get any sleep or relax. I was sweating profusely and all I could do was imagine all the possible scenarios. If I had left work two minutes earlier, the criminal would have shot Ella first and then me because I would have been a witness. The thought that I was so close to death haunted me. I decided to run on the treadmill for a half an hour to try to clear my mind.
The next day, my boss Mary gave me a phone call. She told me that she had scheduled me to see a counselor for as long as I would need it. It felt great talking to Mary; she really brightened my spirits. The tone of her voice and the calmness with which she spoke alleviated some of my stress. When I met the counselor, Jack, we talked about what had happened. I let all my feelings out; everything was bottled up and I broke out crying after saying it all. He comforted me and we would talk about anything that could get my mind off what had happened. Jack told me, “Mukund, what happened to you is something that happens to a few of us. If you keep lamenting on what has happened, you won’t be able to live with yourself. Stay active, the more activities you do, the less you will think about the tragedy that happened.”
I took Jack’s advice; being able to talk to him really opened me up. I am so happy that I am alive today and able to write this paper. My co-workers and employers have been such influential people in my life because they have gone through this traumatic situation and have helped me get over it. They have become a part of me, and I am so happy that Mary gave me the chance to become part of their team. As long as I have my friends and family, I believe anything is possible, and that everything happens for a reason; nothing happens purely by coincidence. This event has made me a stronger person, it has led me to think in a more positive light and has urged me to achieve my goals.
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