Stanford Admissions Essays

Describe a Person who has Influenced Your Life - "Grandma"


If someone were to take a page out of your journal, describe an important moment in your life. Or, describe a person who has influenced your life thus far. 

 “—ington, party of thirty, your tables are ready,” announced the hostess.

After being seated at three large white round tables with folding white chairs, the real Clam Bake began. We attacked the buffet tables, buttered our lobsters, and still had room for dessert. While devouring New England’s hearty fare, “remember when…” stories started flying across the tables, laughs were spreading like the common cold, and obsolete dance moves were being dusted off by the older generations on the slippery floor. Fourteen little rug rats rushed up to me to be the first one to ask me to dance. Unabashedly, all of the sixteen grandchildren shimmied and sang until the music died with the last song, “American Pie.” I secretly love this crazy and embarrassing family. All the while, my cute little grandma was sitting quietly, watching her six sons and one daughter continue the tradition of love that she instilled in our family, while wearing what Van Morrison calls a “saint-like smile” on her face.

    Grandma is the matriarch of the Harrington Family. Coming from a large brood herself, the only girl of six children, she understands the responsibilities that having a family entails. Her ingredients—determination, devotion, and optimism created a formula for an indestructible bond. Confidently striding in her size six shoes from the Atlantic Rayon Corporation to the Industrial National Bank, she worked two jobs to support her family. Every morning, she awoke early in her small home in Cranston, Rhode Island, to prepare seven brown paper-bag lunches for her children. Many people within the community can still remember the image of my grandma rushing to catch one of her son’s games in her work attire. Although Grandma could not supply her children with material things, she was able to provide them with positive attitudes, fearlessness, and love. These values can only be felt through life’s experiences. The peewee games became Ivy League baseball, hockey, and football games, and Grandma cheered on the sidelines as all of her children attended college, the first generation of Harrington’s to do so.

I admire the characteristics that Grandma has imprinted upon the Harrington name. The dedication that she selflessly showed this family also resides in me. I am always supportive and excited for my family’s and friends’ success. I have developed a work ethic that has enabled me to flourish throughout the years. My initial struggles have now become my strengths. I am always willing to work hard to achieve my goals; effort is never one of my regrets. And, I am able to accomplish my dreams because my positive attitude mirrors that of my grandma’s.

Now, Grandma glanced at her family dancing, eating, and laughing together. She sat perched in the folding white chair, clapping her calloused hands to the rhythm of the music. Her face reflected her disbelief at her childrens’ and grandchildrens’ success. She was not impressed by the superficiality of the beautiful golf course, but that her values had successfully passed from one generation to the next. We all, like Grandma, took pleasure in being together.

    As the redolent summer night neared an end, my grandma’s voice surfaced in my head. I wanted to thank her, but the thanks would have to come in the form of deeds, not words. It was not the words that my grandma has said, but rather the words that she did not say that has impacted me most. I hope to deliver my own gratitude for her, as well as for others in the same manner. For every visible leaf and branch, there is a root, a foundation. I will not forget where I come from. I want to embrace the fearless determination and love that my grandma sought to define the Harrington Family.

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How to cite this essay (MLA)

Harrington, Shannon. "Describe a Person who has Influenced Your Life - "Grandma"" Study Notes, LLC., 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Jul. 2024. <>.