毕业高中: Private Quaker school, 84 students in graduating class
SAT考试: U.S. History, World History
课外活动: Cross country / indoor track / outdoor track captain, newspaper editor in chief, literary magazine editor, Monday Series — speaking series and publication founder and editor, Student Religious Life Committee chair, Student Council, Obama 2012 campaign organizer
获奖: Award as top community organizer in country for the Obama 2012 campaign; State champion in the cross country, 4 years in a row
专业: History and Literature
When I broke the news to my volunteer team, we were in a church basement, cleaning up after the final event of the summer. I tried to downplay it. I nudged Ms. Diana, the neighborhood leader, in the shoulder, and said, "Guess what I'll be doing next Wednesday — having lunch with the president." Her face blazed with a kilowatt smile. Before I could slow her down, she shouted, "Christopher's meeting President Obama next week."
Eldred dropped his broom, Ms. Sheila left the cups scattered on the floor, and all the others came running over and fusilladed me with questions. Yes, the campaign had chosen me from all the other summer organizers. Yes, I would bring photos for everyone. And yes, we had the strongest team by the numbers — total calls, knocks, voters registered, and events — in the country.
I felt guilty that only I could go and told them so. "I wish that I could bring you all with me. You made nearly all of the calls, brought your friends and family along, and made this what it is. I've just been here to facilitate." The others good-naturedly shouted me down. Then Ms. Melva spoke up. Her words were pressed out against the heaving of her respirator. "Christopher, don't feel bad. You'll bring us wherever you go in your pocket. Just pull us out when you meet Barack."
For a long time, I was perplexed by her advice. Then I thought back to the exercise that we employed before any volunteer activity. We sat in a circle and gave our reasons for being in the room, willing to work with the campaign. That way, when it came time to make our "hard ask" on the phones, we would be supported by personal conviction and shared purpose. The "hard ask" is the Obama campaign's tactic for garnering support or a commitment to volunteer, moving from values to idealism to specific action.
In my work on the campaign, I am reminded of my cross-country coach, Rob. Before every single race, from petty league meets to national championships, Rob taps the spot on his thigh where a pocket would be. We look at our teammates who are lining up with us and tap the same spot. Coach Rob is reminding us, and we're reminding each other, that we carry "the bastard" in our pockets with us throughout the race.
"The bastard in your pocket" is a metaphor for the sum of our efforts to succeed as runners. "The bastard" exists as a sort of Platonic ideal form of the high school cross-country runner, melded from accrued mileage and mental conditioning. My goal in a race is to take this ideal form and to transform it into a reality that lives on the course.
I want an education that fills my pockets. And, perhaps more importantly, an education that prompts hard asks, that demands us to use "the bastard" and that uses the compounded experiences of a group for a single purpose.
Though the two examples of his volunteer work and cross-country experience, Christopher is able to depict a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of leadership and a profound dedication to teamwork.
In the opening paragraphs, he describes the moment in which he related news of an invitation to meet the president to his volunteer team. The moment is shown as the culmination of Christopher’s efforts as a summer organizer for the Obama campaign. The mention of the invitation serves as a validation of demonstrable and impressive leadership; further, the reference to members of his team by name displays that his work was meaningful and personal.
Throughout the essay, Christopher reveals his passion for forming and being a part of a community as both a goal in itself and as a way to achieve success for the team. This is a point he elaborates upon in his reference to "the bastard in your pocket," which he presents as an ideal that can be transformed into action in order to achieve examples of his volunteer work and cross-country success. An allusion to the words of his cross-country coach, he uses this example to expand upon his views toward community and lived experience. He talks about both action and intention, emphasizing his own success in transforming beliefs and ideas into tangible results. The last paragraph in Christopher’s essay serves as a succinct but powerful conclusion, one that links the kind of educational experience he seeks with his determined, goal-actualizing mentality.