What do you think about these challenge essay topics?

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Mar 25, 2019
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1. Figuring out how to balance caloric intake with healthy nutrition when I started working out. When I first started working out, my goal was to gain a certain amount of muscle mass by X weeks. I was initially impatient, and followed the “all calories are the same” strategy, and ate anything and everything that fit my macros. Turns out, this is not good for you. Even though I was gaining weight and getting stronger, my skin was getting worse and my mood deteriorated. I sought help from other people I met at the gym, and from online. A lot of the “tasty” healthy food was expensive to buy, so I took up cooking and learned how to make these recipes by myself. My health and skin improved, and I was still able to meet my goals after a delay.

Takeaways: learning how to take a step back and notice when something is wrong, seeking help from others when I can, taking initiative

2. Balancing my Vietnamese identity with “white culture” (lack of a better word) during my teenage years. I was a first-gen immigrant in a predominantly white neighborhood in New York, and I struggled with assimilation. For example, bringing Vietnamese food to school felt alienating surrounded by burgers and fries, and students sometimes made comments about the music I listened to/other interests (sometimes mean, sometimes not). I reached the point where I started to reject Vietnamese culture in order to fit in, but this led to me feeling more distant from my family. My solution to this was introducing “white culture” to my family, and Vietnamese culture to my friends (and ignoring those who still felt weird about it). I found myself more comfortable as Vietnamese person living in America.

Takeaways: adaptability, being comfortable with who I am - maybe I can tie this in with immigrant patients if I have the space.

3. Trying to figure out how to give feedback to and work with a passive aggressive new employee. ~5-6 years ago, I worked at a restaurant for a summer job. Word around the place was that the restaurant was closing soon, and they were bleeding experienced employees. When I got hired, after ~1.5 months they wanted me to help train new employees. I agreed, and things went well until there was one particular freshman college student who felt the need to question EVERYTHING and do things his way. He did not communicate which tables he had already served, and a lot of times his response was just “I’m busy.” This employee was a pain but the owner did not want to fire anyone. My challenge was to get him to listen and talk to us so we can work better during the busiest nights. My solution was the sit him down and buy him some food, and have “real talk” with him. Told him he’s not the special s**t he thinks he is, but he is a very efficient worker and he is a valuable member. I told him I want to be able to work with him, but if he kept it up I would have to talk to the owner about it (bluffed). IDK if it was the bluff or the compliments but he stopped being such a jacka** afterwards.

Problem with this: this restaurant has closed a long time ago and I have no references for it. I put myself down as the reference, so there is no way to verify any of this.

What do you think? I think #2 or #3 is the best, but I cannot decide which is better.

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#1 needs a mindset shift. I see a goal but I'm not sure I get your route or plan to get there. I also don't miss why it was important to achieve that goal. I don't see how the description related to me (I.e., why should I care if you reached your goal). I chalk this up to just brainstorming (this isn't your actual essay).

BTW, developing a healthy lifestyle is absolutely proper for "challenges". Lots of essays go there.

#2 is more about adversity or how you self-identify because I don't find a defined goal/challenge. Is your goal to assimilate or not?

#3 works but you could use this to talk about how you had to give others feedback or show how you had to work with others not like yourself (taking a different angle than strictly diversity). It shows your communication skills and setting goals for other team members. I'm not concerned that the restaurant closed; restaurants close all the time, especially after the pandemic.