Gone Before Dawn

Jaimie Widrig

My Essay

The headline burst across the screen: “One dead, 8 injured in alcohol-related traffic crash at McMullen Booth and Curlew roads.” The local newscast displayed video from the accident scene. A pick-up truck was on its side. The other car caught fire. After an investigation, both drivers were reported as intoxicated. The driver of the car that caught fire was only 18. He had a total of six people in his vehicle. One of his passengers, an 18-year-old girl, died. Her brother, also a passenger, miraculously survived. I am an 18-year-old high school senior. I am the same age as the girl that died. In two months, I will graduate high school. In five months, I will begin college. For the first time, I will live away from home. Although I did not know any of the people involved in the accident, this tragedy happened in my community, to people my age, and it makes you stop and think. Why did this happen? Like me, the 18-year-old girl pronounced dead at the scene had so much life to look forward to but, in an instant, she is gone. Now, her younger brother must learn to live without his best friend. I can honestly say I have never had a drink of alcohol, nor do I want to. My friends know this. As I go through high school, I am learning things about classmates that are startling. I do not agree with their choices. Luckily, I do not feel pressured. Instead, they respect my decision. I know who I am and who I will continue to be. I would like others to share in my vision and will continue to be the guiding light of reason, especially as I enter college. I encourage others to join me. Life is too precious. A split-decision to drink and drive or get in a car with someone who has been drinking can be life-altering and devastating, not just for the person in the accident, but for the person’s family. Why do I chose this stance? There any countless reasons but two reasons are close to my family’s heart. When my mom was a teenager, she had a friend that died in a drunk driving accident. Her name was Jaimy. She accepted a ride from someone she did not know, and was unaware this person had been drinking. She never made it home that night. Sadly, three years prior, my mom lost her best friend, also named Jamie, in a car accident. Although alcohol was not involved, it was devastating. My mom kept her best friend’s spirit alive and honored her by naming me Jaimie, choosing the French spelling which means “I love.” Although I never met Jamie, I feel connected to her. I feel she guides me and is a part of my soul. I may only be borrowing her name but I intend to do it great justice by remaining true to myself and being an advocate against drunk driving.

About Me

Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I want to change the world by becoming a teacher. Accomplishing this goal not only determines who I am now, but also who I hope to become. So, who am I? My name is Jaimie Widrig. I am a highly motivated and dedicated high school senior who has overcome personal learning challenges in order to reach my goals. Diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at seven years old, I have worked relentlessly to manage a processing deficiency that makes it harder to understand concepts and comprehend information at the same rate as my peers. I may be slower, but I am tenacious. My goal upon entering high school was to maintain an unweighted 4.0 GPA and graduate with a weighted 5.5 GPA. I will surpass that goal by graduating with a weighted 5.72 GPA. Throughout high school, I focused on academics and community service. Inducted into the National Honor Society as a sophomore, I concentrated on the foundation’s four pillars: leadership, character, service and scholarship. Embracing these tenets greatly shaped my development. I strive to be someone others look up to and respect. As current Art Club Vice-President, I enjoy providing creative input and collaborating with others. My main goal is to inspire others to be unafraid to create their own path, which personifies my overall character. If you ask others to describe me, I am confident their descriptive words would include: honest, determined, motivated, diligent, caring, kind and approachable. Accumulating over 108 hours of community service has allowed me to give back to others while building a sense of pride that is immeasurable. Focusing on causes I believe in such as partnering with The Community Food Pantry to help fill the plates of those in need during Thanksgiving or working with VISTA Gardens to educate the community on the benefits of organic gardening and a healthy lifestyle has empowered me. There are others who need our help. Making someone smile is well worth my time and effort. During my senior year, I gained newfound confidence in my academic abilities when I began tutoring freshmen in algebra daily on a voluntary basis. This inspirational experience became the catalyst to pursuing a degree in education. I am uniquely perceptive to others who struggle academically and love being a role model. I believe my background and optimistic outlook will help me connect with and positively impact my future students’ lives. Helping a student realize their potential will be extremely rewarding; therefore, I want to become an inspiring educator, much like the teachers that encouraged me along the way. Through the years, hard work, focus and steady determination have helped me to succeed. These skills will be invaluable as I prepare to become a teacher. In addition, I struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It goes hand-in-hand with my Tourette Syndrome. OCD makes me a detail-oriented perfectionist; however, I do not view this as a bad thing. In fact, I believe that being organized has helped me learn because I am fully able to understand the material on a different level. My goal is to balance my academic workload so that I may focus my attention on educating others on important issues, such as drinking and driving. I want to be a strong advocate for important causes and my voice deserves to be heard. Reading Ashley Easterbrook’s story is awe-inspiring. My life now runs parallel to her life sixteen years ago. It is extremely difficult to imagine how someone so young could accomplish so much in such a short lifetime. It is also very motivating. Learning about Ashley provided me with a sense of her character and compassionate heart. I believe she felt the same underlying passion and commitment I feel as I move through my life. This is what prompted her to pursue a career in nursing and for me to recognize my need to become an educator. Both fields require the same depth of character as a prerequisite. You must be able to empathize and make sacrifices for the good of others. Ashley was a humanitarian, as am I. Her accomplishments motivate me to set the bar higher. Unlike Ashley, I am not an outspoken voice within my community. I am not to that level yet. But, I am a strong voice among my family and friends. My voice is not loud, but it is steady and determined. I have no fears about expressing my beliefs. I cannot be swayed by others. I believe, as an educator, I will be able to interact with students on a personal level. My goal is to educate them not just in academics, but also on positive life choices. Educating them on the dangers of drinking and driving will be my duty and priority. As stated in my essay, my mother lost two good friends in car accidents as a teenager. Over the years, she has shared many cherished memories with me in an effort to keep their spirits alive. In doing so, my mother has educated me on life and love. She has compelled me to think responsibly. The choices we make daily impact our future. We must remember every day is a gift. Ashley’s star still shines brightly. Her gift to others was her compassionate heart. My heart strives to exemplify the characteristics and traits she so beautifully represented. I hope her light shines down on me and helps guide me as I advocate against drinking and driving and work to instill those values in others. Four years from now, with your help, I want to say, “I am an educator changing people’s lives, making a difference and positively influencing others.”