Tag Archives: inspirational

When One Door Closes, Multiple Doors Open (My Common Application Main Essay)

*This was my common app essay that answered the prompt, “Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.” Given that high school seniors are probably going through the process of writing their college application essay, I figured it wouldn’t hurt if I shared mine on the internet to help inspire high school students.

Numerous times I felt like giving up on my basketball dreams yet I didn’t want to be labeled a quitter. Instead, I wanted to one day tell a story just like Michael Jordan’s and how he was initially cut from the varsity team only to end up becoming the best player in the world; this became the driving force of my basketball obsession after I didn’t make the varsity team during my freshman year.

I spent countless of hours working on my game, pushing aside my friends and what a “high school” life was supposed to be about. Yet as my Junior Year ended, I sat there tired of the whole routine of working my butt off every single day only to have sub-par performances during actual games.

And after another dismal performance, I was ready to call it quits when my dad told me that if I quit, all the hours I spent working on my game would be wasted, and I’d be labeled a quitter, forever– this led to a renewed fire to stick it out in hopes of making the most out of my last year in high school.

I promised to double or even quadruple my effort in the next practices when, lightning struck. In a blink of an eye, everything I had worked for in the past 8 years disappeared as I lay on the court shouting in pain after tearing my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), an injury that would sideline me for the rest of my senior year.

I suddenly remembered all my daily sacrifices of swallowing up those gooey protein shakes, shooting hoops under the scorching heat, doing dribbling drills during lunch breaks, refusing to indulge in junk food, sleeping at 9 pm in hopes of growing taller and turning down my friend’s invites to hang-out just so I could work on my game instead.

I was devastated as I stayed up all night in pain thinking about what I had done with my life, then I suddenly remembered why I even worked so hard in the first place — the story I wanted to tell couldn’t end here.

How could I give up when my senior year essentially hadn’t even started? I now had a blank page to start writing a renewed story.

6 months later, my story continues to unfold. Who would’ve thought that the same injury that felt like the world falling on my knee would catapult me to a much bigger world. I wasn’t afraid to fail anymore, for I already knew how it felt to hit rock bottom so I went ahead to pursue opportunities that I was once too scared to even consider.

I tried out for the debate team, where I was forced to step out of my comfort zone and learn more about global issues. My devastating injury suddenly seemed so trivial compared to the pressing societal problems we debated about. I was now playing a much bigger game than basketball.

More importantly, as I fulfilled my dream of representing my school and country in international tournaments, I got to meet people from all over the world — each one with their own dreams of one day making a more profound impact in the world.

This inspired me to spend more time working on community service projects while continually trying to inspire others to do the same through my blog posts and newspaper articles that document my Senior Year journey — one that saw me change from the health-conscious basketball freak that my friends used to call me to who I am today, an ambitious global citizen constantly looking for novel solutions and stories to share.

Maybe I was never meant to have a story like Michael Jordan’s because ultimately, we all have our own unique story to tell, and I’d like to think that tearing my ACL was just the start of a whole new chapter.

——-

Feel free to let me know what you think about my essay by emailing me at david.ongchoco@gmail.com. Do let me know as well if you need any help with your essay.

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The Heart at Play Foundation: Healing Through Dance

Repost from my Philippine Daily Inquirer Article: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/160701/special-people-can-dance-too

“It takes a special kind of heart takes a special kind of heart, a renewed sense of purpose and hope, our innovative spirit and strong affirmation that no child should be left behind.”

Volunteering at THP is about becoming part of a family

Volunteering at THP is about becoming part of a family

It was three years ago when Dance specialist Ana Rivera, along with her daughters Therese and Patricia, founded The Heart at Play (THP) Foundation, which provides Dance Movement Therapy to special needs children and adults.

Ana obtained a degree in Special education and pioneered the unique Dance Movement Therapy program, which uses a scientific and very systematic step-by-step approach to helping these children. While Therese and Patricia have been dancing all throughout their life, and have even competed in international dance competitions.

With a desire to share the extreme feeling of joy they experience from dancing, Therese and Patricia have been encouraging their peers, fellow dancers and friends to volunteer and help out at THP, quickly turning THP into a youth movement. Students from ICA, Xavier, Ateneo and other high schools and universities have come to volunteer and be part of the THP family.

“As Filipino dancers we know in our hearts that every moment we spend on that stage, under the limelight and in front of a crowd, we lift it all up to Him. What better way of paying it forward than by sharing what we love the most, which is dance,” stated Therese in her Facebook post, inviting her dancer friends to volunteer at THP. Continue reading

What I Learned From the Wharton Business Plan Competition

What I Learned From the Wharton Business Plan Competition

When I found out that I would be visiting UPenn a month ago, I immediately went straight to Google and searched for possible events I could attend. And there it was the Wharton Business Plan Competition was being held on May 1 in the Huntsman Hall at the University of Pennsylvania. After sorting out a few scheduling details with my dad, it was set; I would be able to attend the event.

I'll be back in the Huntsman Hall next year!!

I’ll be back in the Huntsman Hall next year!!

And so when the day finally arrived, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. Going through the website of the Wharton Business Plan Competition, the finalists seemed to have some really promising ideas. Moments later, there I was sitting in the auditorium listening to the speakers.

At first, it didn’t feel quite right. The auditorium was packed with graduate students and people who looked like they had a backpack full of experience with them already. But I quickly realized that this is it. This is what the business world looks like. This is what I’ve been dreaming of in the past year. This is where I want to be.

When the presentations started, I was honestly a bit overwhelmed by all the data, credentials and what the businesses have done already. But this is the beauty in these events; as an incoming college freshman, it was an invaluable learning experience for me and a preview of the world I’ll hopefully be able to enter one day.

Building a well-rounded team

When the team leaders started introducing their team members and the people who have helped them in the process, you could really see that every member had a unique skillset that really contributed to the team. The winning team Slidejoy boasted students who have gotten multiple degrees from both Wharton and Stanford. But more importantly, they all had a set of important tasks.

The winning team of the Wharton Business Plan Competition, SlideJoy

The winning team of the Wharton Business Plan Competition, SlideJoy

Importance of Networking

During the breaks and networking sessions, you could really see people go at it, discuss ideas, share thoughts and exchange business cards. And true enough, when the presentations resumed, I suddenly started seeing how important this aspect was as the teams presented their current client bases and how they were able to get them to jump in their start-up ventures.

I even got to sit beside this founder and CEO who told me why he was there, and it was quite simple, “I’m here to build connections, network and at the same time, scout for talent.” Continue reading

8 Tips for Students Looking to Apply Abroad (From an applicant who just went through the process)

Looking back at the past year and what I went through during the application process, I can say that CAMP Philippines and my CAMP mentor really helped me in myriad of ways that I will forever be thankful for.

A few days ago, I got a chance to visit my CAMP mentor Chris Dee who is currently a junior at Yale. At one point, we ended up exchanging notes on the application process, synthesizing my experience (what worked well for me), talking about what CAMP has done for all the mentees and underclassmen and just going over the rising college-abroad scene in the Philippines and our role as “Illustrados.”

(CAMP has a super duper helpful guide for people interested in studying abroad (all the essentials are here): http://www.campphilippines.org/uploads/1/2/3/6/12362897/_camp_college_app_guide.pdf

With my CAMP mentor in the Yale, New Haven campus

With my CAMP mentor in the Yale, New Haven campus

I still remember going through the process like it was yesterday. The college application process was an experience in itself, filled with countless of highs and lows. And in between all those were valuable lessons I learned that I wish to share with you guys as you go through the process yourselves!

Top 8 Tips for Students Looking to Apply Abroad

  1. Enjoy the Process; Treat it like a Game –As you start thinking about applying abroad, it’s inevitable that you will become busier than ever. To add to your academics and countless of meetings already, you will have to study for the SATs, write your essays and find ways to stand-out and boost your application.

Since you will go through it anyway, might as well stay positive and enjoy the process. The best way to do this is really treating the college application process like a (video) game with you trying to improve his score (SAT score?) and finding ways to make it to the next level! And besides, believe it or not, some of your best memories will come from the fact that you’re applying abroad!

An extremely helpful SAT guide: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/sat-preparation/955109-silverturtle-s-guide-to-sat-and-admissions-success.html Continue reading

Why the “How I Met Your Mother” Finale Didn’t Have To Make Sense

But love doesn’t make sense. You can’t logic your way into or out of it. Love is totally nonsensical. But we have to keep doing it, or else we’re lost and love is dead and humanity should just pack it in. Because love is the best thing we do.”  —Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother Season 9, Episode 22.


After 8 years, 9 seasons, more than 200 episodes, the journey of the 5 friends in How I Met Your Mother has finally ended.

We’ve all just taken part in the adventures of Ted, Barney, Robin, Lily and Marshall. In these past few years, they’ve become part of our lives as we’ve seen them laugh, cry, smile and even believe that love is the greatest thing in the world.

The 5 friends we've followed through 9 seasons

The 5 friends we’ve followed through 9 seasons

We’ve had slap-bets with our friends, legen-wait for it….dary moments, and we’ve even used that famous, “Have you met (insert name here)?” wingman line.  Continue reading

Values and Principles I live by – Life is what you make it

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/prompt-walk-the-line/

Daily Prompt 

Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?

In the past year, I’ve learned that having a set of principles and values that we constantly live by allows us to step out of our comfort zone and making the most out of every single day.

1. Carpe Diem – Seize the Day

We’re never really sure if we will have a tomorrow.  Anything can happen in the blink of the eye. This is a fact that I remind myself whenever I’m too scared to do something or too scared to approach someone. This is what I tell myself when I’m feeling lazy or when I don’t feel like doing anything at all. This is what I tell myself when I doubt whether or not an idea will work. Simply put, this motto is what allows me to make the most out of each day.

2. You never know until you try

Whenever we encounter something new, our subconscious tells us to stop and go the other way. We immediately think of the possible repercussions. We are scared by the fact that we might fail or waste our time. We research and ask the opinion of others whether or not it’s worth a shot. Yet I’ve come to realize that you’ll never really know what something is like unless you experience it yourself. You won’t know whether you like something or not unless you try it out. Continue reading

FINALLY!!! College Admissions Results!! The end of a journey…the start of a new one!

I’m still overwhelmed right now from graduation and then college results but I just have to write this note of thanks to everyone who has helped me in this journey! 

After a few rejections and wait-lists to some of my top choices for university, I wasn’t expecting anything anymore. Yet, just like how I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) last May, life surprises you when you least expect it. I’m glad I ended up making it to UPenn, UC Berkeley, UMich, and UCLA. 

Thank you to my friends, classmates, parents, family, relatives, teachers, mentors, coaches and everyone who has helped me become who I am today.

When I was a high school freshman, I just wanted to go to La Salle since they are on a trimester system and I could quickly graduate. But I’ve come to realize our plan at 14, isn’t always our plan at 18 or 22 or 30. There are so many factors in life that all we can do is to cherish every moment

At the start of last year, I wasn’t even sure whether I would apply abroad but I decided to give it a shot. At the beginning, I was still skeptical about it but after I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), I was really confused and unsure what would become of my senior year.

Yet I decided to trust the Man above and still make the most out of my senior year……and now that it’s all over, funny how things didn’t turn out how I expected it to be……because it turned out to be so much more than just a school year!

Who would’ve thought that as tiring as it was, this past school year would turn out to become the most memorable, amazing and surreal year in my life! I will miss Xavier but glad I was able to end my stay in Xavier with a bang!

So last but not the least, thank you God for everything that has happened, all the blessings I’ve received and of course all the family, friends, classmates, schoolmates, mentors, teachers and relatives who’ve made me who I am today. I questioned you when I tore my ACL yet you did have a plan! I may not have seen it then but it’s a bit clearer now.

To end I’d like to quote our graduation song “Thank you, Xavier” written by Lorenzo Arceo, “All the memories made, tomorrow’s already yesterday. Our roads will cross again, and we’ll be even better.” “Wherever we may go, whoever we may be, I’ll just let you know. I’ll let my light shine. I’ll be someone greater.”

Thank you again everyone for everything and all the shared experiences we’ve had. This one is for you guys  Wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for all of you!!

This has been my dad's dream school for me :) super glad that I made it!!

This has been my dad’s dream school for me 🙂 super glad that I made it!!

 

UC BERKELEY!!! SILICON VALLEY BABY!!!

UC BERKELEY!!! SILICON VALLEY BABY!!!

 

BRUINS!!! John Wooden is the man!! HAHAHAHA

BRUINS!!! John Wooden is the man!! HAHAHAHA

 

WOLVERINES!!!

WOLVERINES!!!