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27 MAR 2021
This essay is part of a collection of personal statements written by Crimson students who were accepted to their top-choice universities in the US and UK. By bringing together nearly 25 of our best students’ essays, we want to provide inspiration for future students with the same aspirations and goals. This series will showcase the wonderful variety in our student’s essay creations — powered by their personal voice and supported by their dedicated Crimson essay mentors. Ready to be inspired? Let’s go…
When I was younger I decided to sell cupcakes and donate the profits to a local orphanage; the idea of giving back in a worthwhile way appealed to me. Unwittingly, this was my first exposure to profit with a purpose. After this, I took an interest in how the businesses around me operated in their communities.
To gain more exposure to social entrepreneurship, consumer behaviour and challenges faced by local and global markets, I read online publications including Business Insider and FT Weekend. The SA newsfeed has recently been dominated by the systemic collapse of the state-owned enterprises which play a significant role in the SA economy. This has impacted both formal and informal businesses and the communities they serve. I enjoy learning from the stories of entrepreneurs and thought leaders by watching TED talks, my favourite being Chimamanda Adichie's 'Danger of a Single Story' that moulded my views on leadership and subconscious bias. I also read her essay, 'Why We Should All Be Feminists' and her 21st century view on inclusion of women in society resonated with me. Although her work does not specifically refer to women in business, it made me think about successful businesswomen and the challenges that they have had to overcome.
This led to my application for work experience with a senior female executive at Rand Merchant Bank. I attended client and executive meetings which gave me insight into strategy, risk, capital markets and gender equality in business. I was on the school athletics and cross-country team and participated in a variety of dramatic and dance productions. I was elected Deputy Student Leader in my final year of High School and learnt how to communicate effectively with the Headmistress, student council and wider school community. Developing these communication skills is imperative for my future success in the business world. These experiences have helped me realise the value of teamwork in reaching common goals and maximizing efficiency.
I was appointed to the Johannesburg Mini Council where we embarked on social programs to assist indigent communities. In my role as an executive leader I enjoyed working in a diverse team. I learnt how to record minutes, fundraise and manage funding. Thereafter, I assumed leadership roles in my school's Interact and Outreach committees, focused on initiating and running community service projects. Whilst I enjoy making a difference, for these efforts and their outcomes to become sustainable I need to gain a foundation in business and finance that will equip me for my future participation in social enterprise.
At school, I won the Exceptional Aptitude in Mathematics award and voluntarily studied Applied Mathematics, specialising in finance and modelling where I achieved a 7. I scored 99% for Mathematics in my final examinations. Building on this, I would like to learn more about quantitative and analytical aspects of finance and business at university. I also love literature and languages. I won awards for Linguistics and the three languages I studied. In my final exams I achieved eight 7s, finishing top in my school with a 95% average. I was on the Outstanding List of the top 50 out of 12500 IEB candidates and finished in the top 1% in 5 of my subjects.
To learn more about the business world, I would ask my dad questions about the development of his investment and asset management group. These discussions taught me about navigating a volatile currency, commodity prices and monetary policy's impact on business. Exposure to my parents' philanthropy encouraged me to learn more about social entrepreneurship and emerging economies, where social and environmental problems are extreme. My childhood self may be disappointed that I don't intend to start my own cupcake empire, but I am motivated to gain the insight and skills necessary to solve some of the world's complex challenges, through a career in social entrepreneurship and impact investing.
NEXT WEEK: Read the essay that got Matthew P. into UCLA!
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