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Every person in the world experiences an event which they consider to be the best one in their life; a phenomenal, revolutionizing, once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. However even these words aren’t moving enough to describe what was going through my mind on this day: the day that has made me who I am.

A few months earlier, my father and I had discovered the Campbell’s Soup Essay Competition. The year’s theme was “How does your American Dream compare to that of your parents/grandparents?” The ultimate prize was a $100,000 scholarship, but to me first place seemed as likely an achievement as the assent of Mount Everest. However, this was a truly excellent theme for me, because there is nothing I like to write more about than my grandmother. This woman always motivated me for success and was a beacon of love and support throughout my entire childhood. To me she represented a strong-willed, wise woman who struggled her entire life in her own country just because she was Jewish. I

 put all of my skill and effort into writing an essay that would be worthy of my grandmother, and as I was soon to find out, $100,000. As I planned and jotted down this seven paragraph composition, I did not know that it would change my life. After ten hours of incessant scribbling, crossing out, and erasing, I put my pen down, and exhaled with a sense of confidence. The paper was covered in layers of ink: stray lines, words in the margins, and entire paragraphs crossed out. To anyone else, this essay would look like one big mess, but to me it was a masterpiece of my creation. The storm of words thrown on the paper was not a mere appealing story, but the story of my grandmother and me in four hundred words.

This essay captured me, my essence. It represented me and my American dream. My immigration, my Jewish roots, and my love for this country were all merged together into one page. I felt a certain uplifting confidence when we submitted the neatly typed essay, a feeling of victory without even having any prize.

I picked up the persistently ringing phone and nervously gulped. The last calls informed me of my progression to the finals of the essay competition. I didn’t even allow myself to think that I could win the final prize though. No matter how much I came closer to victory, I still couldn’t contemplate the possibility of such a staggering accomplishment, not until this call. The woman on the phone was from Scholastic, the co-sponsor of the contest. She began with a long introduction, which I listened to with a nervous anticipation. As she spoke, I felt as though my blood was boiling from the suspense, but finally the lady paused. “You are the winner of the Campbell’s Essay Competition! Congratulations!” I didn’t know what to say.

Unable to control my emotions, I burst into tears. In that one moment my world turned upside down. I WON! My family crowded around me and we exchanged warm hugs and kisses. This was the greatest moment in my life; and not only because I had just won such a scholarship, but also because I had proven myself. I proved that even an immigrant Ukrainian girl was capable of such a victory. I realized then, more than ever, that in America, hope, diligence, and persistence will always bring success. I, a Jewish girl from Khmelnitsky, whose ancestors had struggled their entire lives in constant deprivation, was living my American Dream!


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Galina J.:

great story --how lucky was this girl!

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