Harvard Admissions Essay of Teen Who Lost Mom Goes Viral

Abigail Mack explains why she hates the letter S
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2021 8:45 AM CDT
Teen Goes Viral on TikTok With Essay That Got Her Into Harvard
Harvard University.   (Wikimedia Commons/David Adam Kess)

(Newser) – Getting into Harvard is an impressive achievement by anyone's measure. But for one Massachusetts teen, her admittance involves a most emotional backstory and a TikTok video series that has since gone viral. Per Upworthy, 18-year-old Abigail Mack lost her mother to cancer, and she took to the social media platform to read the admissions essay she penned about that loss. "The ... essay that got me into Harvard was, I kid you not, about the letter 'S,'" Mack notes in her intro clip, before launching into a reading of her essay that explains the role the letter played. "I hate the letter 'S,'" Mack reads aloud from her essay. "I used to have two parents, but now I have one, and the 's' in 'parents' isn't going anywhere." She notes that the letter "follows me," as "I can't get through a day without being reminded that while my friends went out to dinner with their parents, I ate with my parent."

The teen explains that, to dull the pain of losing her mom, she threw herself into her schoolwork and extracurriculars: "I couldn't fill the loss that 'S' left in my life, but I could at least make sure I didn't have to think about it." What surprised her, however, is that those distractions—especially theater and politics, spurring her involvement in recent campaigns for Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and Joe Biden—soon became more than just busywork, actually piquing her interest to the point that that single "S" she'd been avoiding turned into a double "S" in "passion." In one especially moving video, Mack shows herself opening an update on her status application, which revealed Harvard had accepted her. "There was a lot of screaming—I didn't have a voice for about a week afterwards—and I was on the verge of tears," she tells BuzzFeed. Mack isn't yet sure what she'll major in, but she expects it will involve the social sciences and humanities, with a possible focus in French or foreign policy. (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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