Ben Borgers

Watson Scholarship Essays

Some believe that a person of character demonstrates the following six qualities: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Pick one of these qualities, describe the value of this quality, and, most importantly, explain how you have exemplified it at some point during your high school career.

To me, responsibility means being dependable and keeping promises. It’s valuable to be a person that other people can rely on in all parts of life.

Last summer, I worked at a programming internship where another intern and I were given the responsibility of fixing most of the bugs in one specific area. External testers had found more than sixty issues, which needed to be remedied before the product could be certified.

I took that responsibility seriously, and tried to fix every issue completely and fully so that it wouldn’t come back to me again. I wanted to make sure that I did a good job the first time.

Many of these issues were caused by a component written by another team. In the past, many people had dismissed these issues as “not our problem”, and had hoped that they would go away.

I found ways to contact the team that created the component we were using, and gave them specific reports about what was broken and how to fix it. I wanted to make it as easy as possible on them. That team recognized how carefully I investigated these issues, and even offered to make me a contributor to their code – not realizing that I was an intern, who would be leaving a couple weeks later.

These issues were addressed quickly and easily, solving problems not only in our product but in other products that relied on the same underlying component.

I was proud of the careful work I did rising to the responsibilities that were handed to me. It always feels good to be someone that others can count on.


What can student leaders do to build a sense of community within the school and strengthen the bonds between the school and the larger community during the year? In your response, cite examples from your personal experiences or those of your fellow student leaders.

It was on the day of our Pep Rally last year, with our entire grade crammed into the gym, when I realized how little school spirit we have.

Sure, it wasn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but the lack of enthusiasm from the students – me included – was a bit sad.

Lexington High School is made up of factions that mostly keep amongst themselves. This has positive effects: the concepts of popular and unpopular are less common. However, it also means that we have little school spirit or sense of community. We’re autonomous, concerned about our own little worlds.

What student leaders can do to bring communities like ours together is to encourage shared experiences for everybody in the community. It creates common ground, and a way to reach across groups and bring the whole school closer together.

I created an app for keeping track of your school schedule that’s regularly used by around 1,800 students. A couple weeks before Thanksgiving, I realized that this regular attention from a majority of the school could be extremely valuable in bringing the school together.

Ten days before Thanksgiving, I added a tab to the app called “Kindness”. It allowed you to send anonymous compliments or messages to anyone at the school.

The night before launching the tab, I was regretting all of my decisions. There was no way that people would use it; it would be overlooked or dismissed. I made a pact with myself that I would be happy if a thousand messages were sent before Thanksgiving.

The next morning, I awoke to 0 total messages sent. An hour later, it was 4. I groaned and focused on taking a shower instead.

But by 9 a.m., checking the numbers on my way from Calculus to Physics, I realized that this idea might have caught some traction. By the end of the day nine thousand messages had been sent.

It was beyond anything I had expected.

Over the next week and a half before Thanksgiving, people told me about the little bits of uplifting messages they had been receiving; the wholesome messages from their friends saying how much they were appreciated; even messages reconnecting with friends they’d lost touch with. By Thanksgiving, people had sent sixteen thousand messages.

The power was in a shared experience, an event that reached across people’s bubbles and allowed people from all over the school to connect. It brought the community together by connecting people who wouldn’t have connected otherwise.

Best of all, it wasn’t something that the administration put together and handed down. Students are famously wary of things that they’re told to do. It came from the students themselves, strengthening our school community without feeling forced.

This page is referenced in: Applying to College