Room 210
2007 SMS Essay Contest Finalists
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How can I make a difference? That is probably the hardest question I have ever been asked. When I think of making a difference I think of Rosa Parks who stood up for what she believed in, or Robert Kennedy who fought and helped the less fortunate. Then I look at what I have done which isn't much compared to the people that did so much more.

So how can I make a difference? I could make a difference by donating money to the poor or serving food at the homeless shelter. I could run a marathon to fight cancer or go door-to-door selling little pieces of paper to raise money to help find a cure for a deadly disease. Or is there more than that? Isn't there something else I can do? I could do things that have never been done.

I could go to school every day until I become a doctor and help people stay alive and healthy. Or become a teacher and help kids achieve the goals they have for their lives.

Making a difference is a hard thing to do. To make a difference you have to lead a good life doing good for others. Not being afraid to show people your weaknesses. To make a difference you don't have to save a life, or find a cure, all you have to do is try your best to be you and do the things you want to do. Accomplish your goals and always try your best and you will have made a difference all on your own, by doing nothing but being you.


When some people think about making a difference they think about making it into a good college, getting a good career, being the best in sports and music, or serving God on a missions field. Not me! Don't get me wrong, I want to make it into a good college so I have a good career. I love sports and talking to people about my Savior, but I think the true key to making a difference is perseverance.

Perseverance is a word for not quitting or giving up when you face hard times. There are 50 percent of people who give up when things get hard or boring people think it's okay to just quit. That is why I admire people who don't give up such as Moses and Jacob from the Bible.

I admire Moses because over and over and over he would ask Pharoah to let the Hebrews go, and over and over and over Pharoah said no. Yet Moses stuck to what God had said and finally Pharoah said yes. Jacob persevered with his choices. Potiphers' wife kept trying to seduce him and Jacob said no every time. He wanted to stay sexually pure and to obey his Lord. He knew that if he stuck with God and made the right choices he would have a blessed future with God.

I admire those people for what they did and how they stuck close to God in the middle of all their hard times. I want to do exactly what they did: persevere. They could have stopped when the times got hard and given in to what we call today "peer pressure." I plan on sticking to my Lord and overcoming all my hard times.

I know I'm young and perseverance is a small thing to consider to make a difference but in 1 Timothy 4:12 it says: "Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." I believe this verse and apply it to my life daily because with God and perseverance I can make a difference.


Sexual orientation is not a protected rigth under our current discrimination laws and that needs to be changed. I have to first ask a question in order to write this paper. Why is sexual orientation not a protected right? Some people say that homosexuality is a disease or a disability and that is simply not true; it is a natural act that one cannot just choose to turn on and off. I would like to make a difference by working to get our current laws changed to include sexual orientation under discrimination.

First, you can talk with people and let them know about it. Getting the word out and letting them know that we are just like them, but with different views, is the first step in educating people. Unfortunately, talking will not get the laws changed. In order to get the laws changed, I would need to start a petition and receive the required signatures in order to have it put up for a vote by the people.

I believe that every person has the right to live their life the way they want and that our Constitution gives us these rights under the 14th and 9th Amendments. Society has changed through the years and we are seeing things in a new light. To me, changing these laws would be a great way for me to make a difference and to help those that are being discriminated against on a daily basis for something that they cannot change.


Imagine not being able to see a doctor when you're sick. Imagine not having a nice warm home to come to every night. Imagine you're 10 and having to take care of your four younger siblings. Doesn't sound exactly tempting, right?

In certain areas around the world children go through this every day- not having proper shelter, clothing, health, or education. Many children's parents died, which leaves them to have to care for themselves.

Every year, millions of dollars go to making movies, and paying movie stars, athletes, and celebrities when all of it could go to causes like poverty. It seems people with extraordinary amounts of money don't care enough to help people out.

To help the cause I could raise money with different gatherings, hold food drives, blood drives, and donations and send all of it to third-world countries.

One person, just one, could save people just by trying to make a difference. If more people put their efforts into helping people, the world would be a better place to live.

Even if you couldn't help or didn't have the money to hold fundraisers, you could still donate things and help with the fundraisers. So get moving!


I have never been so scared in my entire life.

Standing there in front of 500 people, well actually, it was about 20 people. I was standing there in my fifth hour class getting ready to give a presentation about the colonial regions. I felt like I was two feet tall, standing there shaking like a chihuahua.

I said to my teacher that nothing would come out. I was so mad at myself because I had everything memorized. So I just stood there and then started to cry, which sucked because that was embarrassing. So I sat down and listened to everyone else do what I couldn't.

This is why I want to make a difference in my life by working on my speaking skills. I have already come a long way since October when I had to give my first presentation. I am now sort of able to get up in front of only my fifth hour class. I still cry but now it's after I get done speaking.

I want to change this completely by not crying or being afraid. How I can change this is by working on it with new people. Find different teachers and students. I can work on it in high school with completely new people. I can just suck it up and deal with it, but it's not that easy to just suck it up. The most important thing that I can do is believe in myself. Believing in myself is the most important thing because I didn't in the beginning, but my teacher did and that's what will help me make a difference. This is how I am going to make a difference in my life.

When I get over this, I want to make a difference in someone else's life because it means so much to people if you just believe in them.


War is a brutal thing that splits countries apart and causes racial difficulties. Soldiers are brave to go fight in wars. I could make a difference in their lives by writing a simple letter showing my appreciation towards them; they don't always get the credit they deserve.

Although there are a lot of groups and charities that give to soldiers, it doesn't quite mean as much as it does when it comes from a single person the soldier is fighting for. It means a lot when a person says, "Thank you for leaving your family and your life here so I can stay safely with mine."

I could make a difference in a soldier's life by taking a few minutes out of my day to write to them, which isn't much when you think about all that they give up for you. I would write about my day, and how I am so happy to be able to be free an that when I sit at home I imagine my brother fighting in the war and that I hope we win soon so I can see him once again, so the worries can escape my head and life can be normal once again.

Life may be normal for that little five-year-old, but after that soldier gets done fighting, it changes dramatically.

A simple thank-you note may not sound like much, but it can make a big difference.


All of the time people are saying "What can I do to make a difference?" Oh, I know- end world hunger, or stop the war, or go to Africa to help the people there.

It's really amazing how people feel like they have to travel all the way to Africa to make a difference, go all the way to Africa to stop hunger and to fight against life-threatening diseases, when so much of that is going on in our own United States, especially after Hurricane Katrina.

Watching "Idol Gives Back" the other night, sitting there, I was getting upset because they were raising all of that money to go to Africa and only a little to go to kids and other people here.

I know that the people over there are living in extreme poverty but it's not so easy over here either.

Everyone always thinks of America as a wealthy place and perfect, and the land of opportunity; sure that is true to a certain extent, but I also know the flip side. I know what it is like to be poor. I know what it is like to be homeless. I know what it is like to be at the bottom looking up, hoping, waiting, praying for a change in life, praying that things will get better.

So when you ask me what do I want to do to make a difference- I want to help kids who are going through what I went through to let them know that things will get better. I want to build facilities to get homeless people off the streets and out of trouble. I want to have enough money to donate towards fighting diseases, donate to places like Salvation Army and Soul's Harbor.

But for right now, I can just do volunteer work at nursing homes and places like the Salvation Army and the Boys and Girls Club and helping with the Special Olympics. That's what I will do until I am able to reach my goals and do it right!


Just picture Joplin, Missouri as a Utopian society. No crime, poverty, or slackers. Even better, the state of Missouri could even become the new Utopia! By taking steps toward making Joplin a better place, maybe we could make the world a better place. If I held fundraisers, volunteered in my community, and if I could become a sympathetic ear for people in need, and then get people to copy me…It would be my way to make a difference, to stand out in the crowd…Joplin as a whole could become a Utopian society. It would just take baby steps, but where to start?

To begin the transformation, I would probably start some fundraisers for needy families. Things haven’t always been financially easy for my family, so I understand that with some extra money in their pocket, people’s stress would be relieved. With having all these fundraisers there would be no need for homeless shelters. The only way this would work though is if I could get everyone to participate. Even though this would already be a big help to the community, I feel that I could do more to help. But what more could I possibly do?

I know; how about I volunteer in my community? I could pick up trash, plant flowers, help senior citizens, and stay after school to help my peers understand their homework. I love to help people because I am always left with this feeling that says, “You did well!” It would take loads of time out of my day and I wouldn’t be able to hang out with my friends. It would be a huge sacrifice, but given the chance I would take it. But still I feel there is one more area being neglected that I could care for…

Sometimes I wish I had a sympathetic ear. By being there for people I could talk them out of things that they might regret. I know it’s not that big a deal, but maybe if as a community we opened up to each other we wouldn’t be afraid, and we wouldn’t be so judgmental of each other. It would be another great feat for mankind if we could all stop being so critical of each other…It really would.

The steps that I have talked about are the ways I think I could make a difference. If I ever got the chance or time to do this I would grab a hold of it and never let it go until the job was done. For now, I can only imagine what it would be like, but maybe the day will come when we can have a Utopian society…Someday, here in Joplin, but for now me must wait…


How can I make a difference? Many people do not believe that they can make a difference in their community. People always underestimate the power of one person. Can I make a difference?

I strongly believe that I can make a difference in my school. Nowadays, people are making wrong decisions and they need guidance. I can help them straighten out their live and bring them back to the right path. I can help people be more responsible and do well in school, so they can get scholarships and go to college to increase their education and better themselves.

People also believe that they are too stupid for school; they just need someone to help them in school. I am the person to help them. I make good grades and am willing to help whoever needs it and is willing to accept help.

Many people need time to get ready for school. Many are pushed too fast in class and don’t understand what is going on. I can make a difference by helping students in class. I could start a study group for other students to give them a boost in school. This could help everyone do better in school and make the world more knowledgeable.

Well, it turns out that everyone can make the world a better place, it just takes a little time, patience, and will power, then everyone will enjoy life with the knowledge of right from wrong. This is how I can make a difference.


I can make a difference in my neighborhood by making a petition to get speed limit signs and children at play signs put up where I live.

I live over on the corner of 10th and Geneva (one block from Blockbuster). Many people just run the stop signs and speed right through there every day.

When I was a little younger, about 10 or 11, I would ride my bike around with my friends on 10th Street and 11th Street, and would have to literally wreck my bike up the curb into people’s yards to get away from speeding vehicles. One of those times I wasn’t so lucky and a car hit me from behind, but stopped before it ran over me. I was listening to my CD player so I couldn’t hear the car and I guess they weren’t paying attention and hit my back tire, causing me to fall over and scratch my left shoulder and back. He then stopped, yelled at me to get out of the middle of the road, and drove off. He didn’t even stop to help me. And things have just gotten worse. There are about five to 10 wrecks a year in my neighborhood from speeding, children almost getting run over and it is just getting worse.

Doing something about this problem is how I can make a difference.