Thierno Diallo

Harvard Reject

The Loomis Chaffee School

Windsor, Connecticut


Today, I woke up with anxious eyes at four A.M., while the sun snored, in order to summit Mount Harvard. As I prepared my routinely plain oatmeal with sprinkles of sugar for breakfast, the cold morning air was filled with excitement. My oatmeal tasted unique, and sweeter than usual in the darkness because of my peers and my anticipation to climb Harvard. I felt overjoyed to summit my first mountain. The sun snoozed as we hefted our backpacks and marched along the trail towards the ridge, where we would leave our packs and conquer Harvard. The trail consisted of perilous, steep uphill battles armed with snow giants and cheerful streams that blocked our path. The ridge seemed to mock my efforts as I marched up its steep and seemingly infinite hillside with a heavy pack and crying feet, exhausted from a long morning’s hike. Despite these obstacles, I remained optimistic, and this optimism served as a weapon against these hurdles, encouraging me to continue marching towards the saddle of Mount Harvard.

Atop the ridge, I felt a breeze of joyful anxiety, as I prepared to triumph over one of the Ivy League mountains. The sky appeared clear and near, and I felt close enough to Harvard that my breath could reach it. The ridge was dressed in bugs and snow and all around, I could see mountains as tiny as ants, and at my feet I saw ants the size of pennies. I climbed the ridge with hopes that my GPA would be high enough to get into Harvard, but to my dismay, I missed the cutoff. JP, our expedition leader, informed me that we arrived at the ridge two hours late, and it was unsafe to summit with the incoming storms. My disappointment cast a shadow of sorrow upon me. I felt angry because I hiked all morning with a hope as precious as stained glass, and time shattered my precious dream.

Rejection and disappointment have always been the sharp pebble to my naked heart. In 8th grade, English, being my fourth language, posed as the leviathan on my educational trail that limited my academic success. My weaponry of books and newspapers helped me on my hike, but the beast proved too powerful to defeat alone. I always struggled with communicating with my peers and teachers; this battle chained my academic potential, but I continued fighting. I applied to a variety of specialized high schools and public schools that I believed would unlock this potential, and despite graduating as valedictorian, they all rejected me; I was forced to attend my local public school because they could not refuse me. Rejection stomped my efforts and disappointment enraged my heart; I felt useless and my endeavors, hunched over from years of hiking, appeared exhausted.

While bathing in my disappointment atop the ridge, Emily, another expedition leader, gave out refreshing Jolly Ranchers to celebrate our reaching the ridge. She reminded me of my older sister rewarding me with candy when I achieved my goals, was kind, or when she wanted to see me smile. I often impatiently waited for her to return from school because she always brought me savory Werther’s Original Caramel candies that dissolved in my mouth and left my tongue with a soft warmth. While these memories invaded my mind, I eradicated my shadow of disappointment with a radiant smile. Back in eighth grade, my family served as my Jolly Rancher because they forced me to remain motivated towards my academic endeavors. My mother reminded me that failure is the predecessor to success and encouraged me to focus on my studies and remain at the top of my freshman class. During my freshman year, I doubtfully applied to 12 prep schools with hopes that they will help me unlock my academic potential. Once again, all the schools rejected me except for The Loomis Chaffee School, a nationwide top 50 academic school. I felt grateful for the privilege to ascend the throne of success as a hardworking dreamer.

I decorated the ridge with jolly laughter, and Harvard seemed jealous of the lively pass. I could not reach its crown, but my boisterous giggles drifted over the summit. My newfound enjoyment halted time and when it refocused on its march, I walked alongside it down the ridge and towards our campsite, knowing that the throne of success awaits in an oblivious and uncertain future. I conquered my first mountain, Mount La Plata, about two weeks later. Like Loomis, La Plata challenged my metal and physical strength with its boulder fields, blinding clouds, and divorced air molecules at 14,360 feet of elevation; I received my silver acceptance letter due to my maturity from rejection and determination to succeed.