Madalyn Canada: A College Personal Statement

Madalyn Canada, a graduating senior from Academy for College and Career Exploration in Baltimore, plans to attend American University to study Journalism.

When you jump off a swing, there is a moment where you’re suspended in the air and
have no control over what happens. When I was younger, I despised jumping off swings. While the other kids would leap into the air and land bravely in the sand, I would drag my feet until I could nervously step off. What if I hurt my ankle? What if I hit my head? How could I face something that was out of my control?

Growing up, I had three parental figures: my mom, my dad, and my grandmother, Mamaw. She lived with us my entire childhood. I valued that relationship, especially considering that the rest of my family was states away. She was a constant presence in my life, until the day she left, telling no one until she was long gone. I was devastated. Why did she leave? Why hadn’t she told anyone? My father never told stories of his childhood, but when he did, he left Mamaw out, and I never understood why. When Mamaw left, things began to make sense. This was not the first time she made a rash decision that hurt the people around her.

Mamaw leaving was not my fault; I knew this, but I was sure that if I had done something different, she would have stayed. Although I knew that this was not true, it did not stop me from thinking about the “what ifs.” After Mamaw left, the future terrified me more than it ever had before. Mamaw leaving showed me just how little control I had over my life.

I now know that when it comes to life, I only have control over one variable: me. There is so much I cannot control, so I do what I can to ensure the best future for myself and the world, and let the universe take it from there. I choose what I believe will be the best path, and then I move on.

This is why I choose not to let Mamaw’s recklessness destroy my life. This isn’t to say
that it does not hurt when I think about her, but I have moved on and learned from this. I learned that there will be times in my life when I will not have control, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. I learned how to cope when massive life changes come about. I learned that, while I am in control of myself, I am not in control of others.

All three of these lessons have helped me immensely over the last few years. It helped
during the COVID-19 pandemic when all of our lives changed in a single day. It helped me when my family moved states in the middle of my high school career. I am not glad that Mamaw left, and I miss her every day, but I am thankful that I learned something from the experience and that it has prepared me for life’s uncertainties.

Recently, my youngest sister got a swing. My parents bought it for her to replace the old, rusty swing left behind in our backyard. A few days after my dad set up the new swing, I walked outside. It’s a Saturday morning, there is a cool dew on the grass as I walk over to the swing and take a seat. As the sun shines through the trees and hits my face, I think about how I haven’t seen Mamaw since sixth grade and now I am about to graduate. I think about how I have become more self-reliant since Mamaw left. I walk my legs back and kick-off. I think about the people who were there for me. I fly through the air, higher and higher. I think about the future, the friends I will make, and the life I will create. I take a breath and I jump.