Harvard-Bound Student’s Viral College Essay About Losing A Parent Is Helping Others Cope

It feels like I wrote my college application essay a million years ago—but the infamous essay is still very much a part of any applicant’s admissions package.

Abigail Mack, an 18-year-old student who was recently accepted into Harvard University’s class of 2021, knocked her essay out of the park—and caught the internet’s attention.


Mack shared her essay on TiKTok, and millions of people watched the series, which focused on Mack’s attempt to cope with the loss of a parent by throwing herself into all sorts of extracurricular activities.

“I hate the letter ‘S,'” Mack begins. “Of the 164,777 words with ‘S,’ I only grapple with one. To condemn an entire letter because of its use .0006 percent of the time sounds statistically absurd, but that one case changed 100 percent of my life. I used to have two parents, but now I have one, and the ‘S’ in ‘parents’ isn’t going anywhere.”

“You can’t have dinner with your parent…if you’re too busy to have family dinner,” she said. “I couldn’t fill the loss that ‘S’ left in my life, but I could at least make sure I didn’t have to think about it. There were so many things in my life I couldn’t control, so I controlled what I could—my schedule.”

While Mack was trying to distract herself from grief, she discovered she had a real passion for theater, academics, and politics.

Instead of just keeping busy, she would devote her time to things she actually cared about and find meaning in those activities: “‘S’ got me moving, but it hasn’t kept me going,” Mack concluded. “I don’t seek out sadness, so ‘S’ must stay on the sidelines, and until I am completely ready, motivation is more than enough for me.”

Mack’s story has inspired many people. She spoke with Buzzfeed about her passions and how grief has affected her life:

“I grew up in a very artistic family—my mother opened a dance studio that my father still runs, and my father is a piano teacher—so theater has always been part of my life,” she said. “There [is] something cathartic in escaping to a new world and being someone else for even just a few hours on stage.”

“Politics is a newer passion,” Mack added. “When the Black Lives Matter demonstrations were occurring this past summer, I realized how passionately I felt about politics. I knew that I could no longer stand idly by and watch as the world made leaps forward without me. I became a fellow on Senator Ed Markey’s re-election campaign and also taught volunteers how to phone bank for Joe Biden’s campaign. It was extremely gratifying to feel like my voice was being heard.”

While at Harvard, Mack plans to pursue humanities and social sciences, with a possible focus on French and foreign policy. However, right now she’s just excited to be moving forward in her life and exploring all the possibilities.

This post was syndicated with permission from Meet The Internet.

Written by Patricia Grisafi