Shrager & Sachs is proud to announce that we’ve chosen a winner for our second annual scholarship– for Fall 2021. We were truly humbled by the quality applications we received. Thank you to everyone who applied! It was a pleasure to read every application we received.
Congratulations to Justine Avila of New Mexico!
Justine will be attending University of Arizona as an undergraduate.
This was the essay topic:
French novelist Marcel Proust once described a character recalling vivid memories from childhood after eating a madeleine cookie dipped in tea. Often, senses like taste and smell can cause these “Proustian memories.” Disney Pixar’s Ratatouille showed this moment when Anton Ego, the food critic, takes a bite of ratatouille and remembers his childhood. Talk about a time you had a Proustian memory. What triggered the memory? How far back did it reach? What did you reflect on after remembering that moment? Did it change you or give you a new perspective?
This is her winning essay:
Late Night Thoughts
Have you ever had a moment in time trigger a memory from your childhood? From the smallest aspects from life such as a specific scent, a specific phrase, or even the bittersweet taste of a dish. Oftentimes these moments are portrayed on TV, known as flashbacks. These moments can define a person’s character, showing even sometimes why this person is the way they are. Personally, I’ve had several of these flashbacks happen to me in real life. Today I’ll be telling you about my most recent time this has happened to me.
I work pretty often, almost full time especially during this summer. I remember a couple weeks ago I got off of my long eight hour shift. I dragged myself to the large white 2003 suburban I had been driving in for months. I got into the car, rolled down all of the windows since I didn’t have AC and sat there for a minute gathering the energy to start the car and drive home. Finally, I took off home, pulled into the driveway and put the car into the park. I quietly entered the house and closed the door softly behind me, cautious to wake anyone up. I dropped my bags into my room and stumbled into the kitchen, eager to find something to eat. Leftovers from dinner included tomatoes, in which I decided I wouldn’t eat. So, in turn I settled for cereal. I opened the pantry and grabbed out a small box of Lucky Charms. I hadn’t eaten them for years and seeing them in the house confused me. Nevertheless I poured myself a bowl of cereal, half milk, half cereal. I took it with me outside as I sat on the porch, I watched the stars as I took the first bite. Suddenly the memories hit me like a train.
I was young at the time, maybe seven or eight. I was insomniatic, I couldn’t sleep to save my life. We were visiting my uncle and his girlfriend at the time, so I was sleeping on a small blow up bed in the front room with my two sisters. I silently pulled myself out of bed, cautious to wake them up. I took myself to the kitchen where I poured myself a bowl of Lucky Charms. I took the first bite before I noticed the backdoor was slightly cracked open. The curious kid I was, I slowly pushed the door open and saw my uncle smoking a cigarette staring up at the stars. I approached him slowly holding my bowl of cereal. He greeted me with a smile. I took a seat in the lawn chair next to him and asked what he was doing. His answer was short: Enjoying the little things in life.
He proceeded to ask why I was awake, I shrugged my shoulders. He then began to point out the constellations, naming each one. I stared up at the sky in amazement. The world around me held so much beauty. We talked back and forth about our favorite stars, our dreams, and life in general. He looked at me and smiled at me and spoke softly, “ Your dad is graduating tomorrow.” I nodded my head excitedly. He gently placed his hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eyes. “You’re going to go so far in life, Justine,” he whispered quietly. “You’re going to achieve so much, just like your dad, you’re going to be so successful, and you’re going to be so happy. I can’t wait until the day you walk across the stage for high school graduation. Walk across the stage for college. Walk down the aisle for your wedding. I can’t wait to meet your family and see where your beautiful heart and soul takes you”.
The words burned such a hole into my heart, I remember I began to cry. He took me into his arms as I gently cried. Those words to this day still have the biggest impact on who I am today.
After the memory went across my mind I sat there quietly, my eyes beginning to water once more. He didn’t live much longer after that. He died a couple years after, his liver had given up on him. I’d never forget those words. Those words lit a fire in my soul and fed my want for greatness. I worked so hard for everything I received since. I put so much work into my schooling, I graduated with honors, ranked tenth, and a year early. I knew if he were here he’d be so proud. But, I knew that night he was looking down on me, so very proud. I felt very content that night. I finished my cereal, headed inside and went to bed happily.
These times in life, we realize memories like this make us who we are today. I am so very happy to be reminded of such a beautiful person, who left too soon. These memories can give you so much appreciation for how far you’ve come in life, with quite a bit of nostalgia. I am so very grateful for the memories, because they’re all I have left. Thank you so much for the beautiful prompt. May your hearts be filled with beautiful childhood memories.
Congratulations again, Justine! May all your dreams come true.