“Wasted”

Valeriya Chulyukina

My Essay

I've always been an advocate for common sense and good judgement. My family is very embracing of their Russian culture, and I've had alcohol and intoxicated people around me since I was very young, and have witnessed the poor judgement that can result from irresponsible drinking. Ever since I've been able to drive, I always request to take the wheel if the original driver had anything to drink, and if it was very little very long ago, I still ask numerous times how the driver feels and whether they are impaired at all, offering other options as well. I understand risks, and I respect certain ones, however, a risk that isn't necessary and puts other people, without their consent at risk as well, is completely senseless to take. A few months ago, my previous step-dad, went out to celebrate his birthday, and didn't utilize the surplus of other options to handle this situation. He got drunk, and rather than staying at a friends or calling an Uber, he decided to head home, and drove on the wrong side of the road, hitting another intoxicated driver, resulting in not only him, but five other people hospitalized with serious injuries. First-hand I witnessed how serious the issue is, how not one, but both drivers in the crash had made the wrong decision. How everyone was endangered and had to put their lives on hold, over a couple dumb choices. The results not even being the worst possible, already caused harm and worry to so many, causing emotional, financial and physical strain. Drunk driving accidents are avoidable and unnecessary, but cause around of third of all traffic related accidents. Accidents that affect the driver, the passengers, those in other vehicles involved or pedestrians, along with the family and friends of all these people. I think anyone could agree that finding an alternative is worth eliminating the possibility that any person's life becomes endangered. I make my opinions clear to those around me, stating facts about drunk driving blatantly around those who drink as well as creating a norm for those around me, that drunk driving is uncool and not smart, and one can simply take away the keys of someone insistent to drive impaired, and when they sober up they may thank you. I don't fear to stand up and use my voice to be active in a cause that can affect a so many lives; generally proportional to the amount of people I am able to educate on the topic, is how many people you can save. Why let the ability to save others be wasted? Make smart choices and help those around you to do the same, and have the ability to save lives. One wrong choice to drive drunk can affect someone who in turn affects many others, someone who also has close friends, a team, a brother or sister, a father and mother, relying on them coming home.

About Me

When I was a toddler my mom brought me to the United States under political asylum. We moved in with the only family we have in the United States, my great aunt and her husband, eventually moving to Portland with my stepdad, who at the time, I believed was my dad. Here I had a standard upbringing, until he and my mother were filing divorce papers ten years later, and my family history was cleared up. After the divorce, with my dad no longer in the picture, I didn’t have someone who knew about the U.S. education system supporting my academics, and began to create myself. My mom did her best to help me make good choices, while also giving me greater responsibilities, such as picking up my sister from school or cooking dinner when she was at work. I entered an academically rigorous middle school program called Summa, knowing it would help me be build a more successful future. Starting at this point, I really started to develop who I was and aimed to make myself a more rounded and empathetic person. I had the privilege to visit my grandparents in southern Russia and to attend numerous Russian community events, as well as participate in more clubs and community service opportunities that interested me. When I started high school, I helped my mom to open her own organic hair salon, mashing her skills with our interest for personal health and the environment, I learned how to remodel and manage my time, as well as more about business. Spending so much time in the salon exposed me to people of many different ethnicities, lifestyles, religions and values from who I learned from. Going forward, I hope to give back to the community that raised me, and to go about my life empathetically with what they’ve taught me. Witnessing their challenges and feeling the effects they have on their families inspired me to try to make as many people’s lives easier as possible. I saw that when my mother was recovering from her relationship with my sister’s dad, she had to focus on herself, both to become financially stable, as well as emotionally. During this time, I felt responsible for myself and my sister. The challenges that came with added independence and responsibility, now motivate me to help other youth reach their full potential, even if their parents are busy or not in financial positions to provide resources. I helped begin and currently coach a VEX robotics program for 4th through 6th graders in a nearby school district. We use grants to afford the supplies, and volunteers teach the kids how to program and build robots. I also helped to begin and currently sit on the board of PlayOn, a nonprofit that provides free after school sports for low income schools, acting to keep kids in better shape and providing them time to socialize outside of school. These two programs also provide parents with some free childcare. Recently, I joined the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board for my city, so that I can learn more about policy and be a voice for youth in our local government, as well as be in a position where I have resources to influence more people’s lives. For instance, we are organizing a free youth summit for the highschool students in the city to help them plan what to do once they graduate. I also advocate for Early College High School, and attend panels and open houses to answer questions fro students about the program and what it has to offer, especially for students who are first in their family to attend college. Along with these activities, I have also filled my time with miscellaneous activities such as working at a local food bank, The Sunshine Division, tutoring math after school, playing varsity tennis as well as having high grades and test scores. I hope to be able to continue to be influential in others lives as I continue my education, doing little things hoping to prevent big issues for others.