When applying to The University of Tulsa one of the requirements is to write an essay. There were two topics to choose from, I forget what the other was, but I chose “write about a person or thing that has greatly impacted your life” The essay had to be 250-750 words. Mine came in at 652 words. I chose to write about my PopPa who had the biggest impact on my life. It took me about three weeks to write, revise, and edit. I was very proud of the final product. I had my mom and Mrs. Frye help me out with editing and I think it conveys a lot of emotion. Mrs. Frye came up with the title “PopPa’s Pride” which really sums up nicely what the essay is about. Below is the final draft.

PopPa’s Pride

Mya Washam

My grandfather, or as I called him, PopPa, was the most strong-willed, determined, stubborn, person to ever enter my life. I attribute those same qualities that I posses to his influence on me. We had been, as my mother puts it, “thick as thieves,” from the first time he laid eyes on me. My parents adopted me in October of 2001 when I was only four weeks old and the size of a cantaloupe. My parents were picking me up in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  This was all spur-of-the-moment and they called my PopPa and Grandmother with the news that they had been matched with me. My grandparents were on their way to Jefferson City for business purposes at the time. After they hung up my grandmother says that my PopPa made a U-turn as soon as possible. When she asked what was happening he announced that they were turning around right there, driving down to Fayetteville, henceforth meeting their new granddaughter. With every adoption in Arkansas the birth mother is given ten calendar days to decide if they wish to nullify the adoption. “They aren’t getting her back!” My PopPa told my parents that he would run away with me, even all the way to Mexico, before anyone could lay hold of me.

So PopPa and I became buddies from the beginning.  I spent multitudes of time with him and thus his influence was immediate. I have an immensely strong connection to nature as well as animals. I attribute this to my PopPa’s influence. I couldn’t even being to recount all the times we went to his ranch to explore.  He sparked my imagination when he collected cow bones that were scattered through the pastures, insinuating that they were dinosaur bones. He inspired my love for nature and encouraged me to look for beauty in everything.

He was consistently coming up with different, unconventional ideas. My PopPa was the definition of thinking outside of the box, always finding a new way to receive the same outcome. He was a maverick and never afraid to take a risk.  He taught me how march to the beat of a different drum.

More than anything, I learned how to never give up simply on account of  something being difficult. For the majority of the time I knew my PopPa he only had one leg as well as only half of a foot. That never stopped him from doing what he wanted when he felt the desire to. My Mom often jokes that he had every disease except leprosy. You would never know any of this from the outside. He put on a strong face while doing anything someone with two legs and feet could do, even when he wasn’t supposed to. Along with being stubborn he was independent to a fault, both traits I have adopted as well.

My PopPa passed away in our home on October 1st, 2014. My grandparents had been staying at our house for a few years by that time, in light of the fact that they were both struggling with health issues. The day comes to my memory like a dream, one that I can remember almost perfectly. Some days it feels like he was just here while others it’s like I haven’t seen him for a lifetime. I can still hear his voice, like my favorite catchy song stuck in my head, “Mya, the sky is the limit.” It’s one of the last phrases I can remember him saying to me. This simple expression has stuck with me, influencing everything I do, constantly striving to achieve the best that I can, pushing myself to be better than I was the day before. Now here I am, I believe that Tulsa is the place for me, where I can continue to push and better myself not just academically, but to be the kind of person PppPa was.