Today I had to write a letter of recommendation for one of my students. It was for a very elite and competitive summer program at Princeton University. Princeton flies them out to New Jersey and pays for their food and housing for 2 weeks and gives them all sorts of amazing opportunities. The program is only for minority students from low income backgrounds, but they have to have a 3.0 GPA or higher.
At my high school having a 3.0 GPA is extraordinary. These are kids that actually care about their grades and have some sort of aspiration for after they get out of high school. I only asked about 8 students to fill out an application and only one kid actually did it. His name is Nico and he is a Junior this year.
Nico had a lot of writing to do for this application. He had to write three long essays and fill out an application. This is more than even my University application asked for. But he did it. He actually went home and wrote out those essays and then went to the library to type it up. And he did it without me begging him to.
As I was writing this letter of recommendation I just couldn't figure out how to express to these people at Princeton how amazing Nico is. How, even though his writing isn't very good, that he is the best we have. That its so extraordinary that he even filled out an application or took the time to even think about it. How they need to accept him because he has never been out of the city and he still dreams of bigger things than selling drugs at the corner. And how Nico can't put on his resume that he is in National Honors Society or the Environmental Club or anything like that because we don't have those things at our school.
The letter was so frustrating for me to write. I was almost crying as I put it in its sealed envelope because I know that Nico's writing isn't as strong as other kids across the country that are applying. I know that he wasn't as thoughtful as some other kids, but I wanted so bad to convince Princeton to take this kid. Just take him and give him a way out. I am so afraid that I didn't do him justice, that I didn't write as good of letter as I could have. But we postmarked it today on the deadline and we sent it out.
I am so proud of just that.