College Essay on My Grandpa

This is the final draft of my college essay, sent to all my applied colleges, regarding my grandpa. The topic of my essay was a person who has influence your life.

            “The Potato King,” “Bully.” These were various names my grandfather, Norton Nach, answered to. To me, his name was “Poppy.”

            My grandfather grew up in a poor immigrant family in Wallington, New Jersey where he eventually became a self-made millionaire. He simply began to peddle potatoes alongside his three older brothers and father in order to scrape by. When my grandfather saw the opportunity to expand this business into a wholesale enterprise, he brought the idea to his father who said, “It’ll never work.” So my grandfather then asked his brothers to be partners with him; however, they also turned him down.

Because my grandfather saw that peddling potatoes in the street was a dead end job that had no future, he dropped out of high school and decided to move ahead with his wholesale idea. Although my grandfather did not have the support of his family, he was able to envision a brighter future for himself, and he bravely set out on his own.

In addition to having a good head for business, most of my grandfather’s success could be attributed to having the “it” factor, that special something, a spirit and liveliness that he possessed that made everyone love him.

In his business, his charm and charisma allowed him to deal with a full spectrum of people from hard working farmers to stuffy bankers. Everyone wanted to do business with my grandfather because people were naturally drawn to him.

I grew up in a hectic house where I was a middle child with three other siblings. Sharing toys, wearing hand-me downs, and teasing my little sisters were everyday activities. Because my family lived conservatively we all did not get everything we wanted, so I quickly learned to fend for myself.

When I wanted a toy or game, I had to figure out a way to get it on my own. At times I would raise money by selling things for more than I paid. For example, my parents belonged to GameFly where they had the opportunity to buy old PlayStation games for a dollar. I immediately knew that people would pay more for these games so I asked my mother to lend me the money so that I could buy the games and resell them for a profit. She laughed and said, “Just like Poppy.” The more I understood who my grandfather was, the happier I was that my mother compared me to him.

My grandfather died a number of years ago, and now that I look back, I realize myself how much I truly am like him. He gave me the tools to make people laugh, to make people feel comfortable, and to make them feel confident. He showed me how to take care of myself and how to trust my ideas and how to explore my own personal courage. My grandfather, my mentor.

Thank you Poppy.

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Published in: Family


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