You might be surprised at how much your answer to this question can say about you. The role model you choose is not nearly as important as your description of that person and the way you relate this back to yourself. Here are some principles to keep in mind when writing this essay.
- Choose someone with whom you have had a meaningful relationship. Don’t pick a more important but distant figure. No one will be impressed if you choose, for example, the CEO of your company but have nothing to say about him beyond listing the credentials in his company profile.Note: There are some questions that allow you to identify a “hero,” and others that ask you to describe an ideal manager. In those cases you should alter your choice accordingly, but the below principles still apply.
- Express thoughtful admiration. Glorifying your role model makes you sound naíve. Focus instead on describing the person in an insightful manner and explaining why you value what he or she represents. You might even have reason to differentiate yourself from your role model in specific ways, though the overall purpose should be to describe what you admire and want to emulate.
- Describe and illustrate specific qualities. Avoid relying on vague language that merely depicts your role model as “brilliant” or “compassionate.” Instead, aim for a more penetrating portrait that captures your role model’s complexities. Moreover, just because you’re not writing about yourself does not mean that you don’t have to back up your claims. Show your role model in detailed action to convey the qualities that he or she embodies.
- Tell stories. Using specific anecdotes is the best way to achieve depth in your description. By describing the details of a particular episode, you can convey much more about a person than by listing any number of characteristics.
- Show the role model’s tangible influence on you. The best way to demonstrate the importance your role model has played in your life is to recount changes you’ve made based on that person’s influence. Of course, you should not come across as a sycophant or a blind follower. But you can show how your role model provoked ideas that then initiated a course of action.
This applicant writes a very effective portrayal of a woman who overcame gender constraints to become a successful professional. The writer illustrates Erika’s qualities by describing her specific actions. The applicant concludes by articulating exactly what she admires most about Erika and showing how her life has changed as a result of knowing her.
This applicant offers a meaningful portrait of his father in just 300 words. Unlike the previous applicant, he chooses to name the qualities that he admires right from the outset, but he then goes on to justify them with concrete examples.