How to Write the Diversity Essay (Guide + Examples)

And here’s one that focuses more on perspective:

Is Josh ok?

My whole family is sitting around the living room on a lazy Sunday afternoon when we suddenly hear sirens. Lots of sirens. Everyone stops. My dad peers out the window, trying to get a glimpse of the highway. My mom gets up and goes to the phone. After a few stressful rings, the person on the other line answers. My mom bursts out, “Is Josh ok?”

Nice hook! We’re engaged by the questions this paragraph raises: Why the sirens? Is Josh ok? Who is this Josh?

Josh is my fourteen-year-old cousin, and he lives less than a mile from my house. Whenever we hear sirens, my mom will give their house a call or shoot my aunt a text, just in case. Josh was born with a syndrome which affected the formation of the bones of his head and face. As a result, his hearing, vision, breathing and some of his brain structures are compromised. He’s unable to do athletics, his tracheostomy always provides a possibility of disaster, and an unwieldy head brace used to grace his head.

Here the author gives context by explaining who Josh is. He also defines “difference” with a few specific details.

 Living so close to Josh, we have had the opportunity to interact daily. We go on vacations together, I drive Josh to school twice a week, at every holiday we either go down to their house or they come up to my family’s house, we play wiffle ball in the yard behind their house, and one of my favorite activities is board games with him—Risk, Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, we play it all. Last Christmas, there were endless laughs when, prompted by our fathers’ nostalgia, we constructed a slot car track and raced those miniature cars around tight turns and short straightaways. This game was perfect for Josh, as he could stay in a comfortable seat and still experience speed and excitement that he is usually barred from.

In this paragraph, the author shows us how close he is with Josh, and the final sentence shows his sensitivity. 

It goes without saying that Josh has not had an easy childhood. He has had to fight for his life in the hospital when his peers were learning how to multiply and divide in school or playing capture the flag on the beach. A large portion of his childhood has been arbitrarily taken from him. That is most obviously unfair.

Value: Empathy

At our high school, I see Josh every day walking from second period to third period, and every day I say hello and have a small conversation with him. One day I was walking with a few of my friends when I stopped to talk with him. During the conversation, I made a little joke at Josh’s expense. It wasn’t at all relating to his disability, but to something completely independent of that—specifically, his Instagram habits. My friends were horrified, and chastised me as they saw appropriate.

He’s setting up for the ending and also raising a question: Why did he make the joke at Josh’s expense?

My friends didn’t understand. He is not some extremely delicate dandelion who falls apart at every breath that causes a slightly adverse situation. Everywhere he goes, he’s the most popular guy in the room; people flock to him, surround him, pity him, overwhelm him. All Josh wants is to be treated like any other person. He is my cousin, and he is my friend, so I treat him as such. We joke, we make fun of each other, just as any other two friends do.

Insight! The author chooses to treat Josh as he would treat any of his friendslike a normal human being.

Josh has proved to me that people with disabilities are exactly that—people. As if that needed proving. But it’s something that is too easily forgotten. It’s hard to see anything except the handicap. A person’s wheelchair or white cane inevitably trumps any other characteristic. It’s a natural human reaction, but it too often leads to the dehumanizing of disabled people. One of my favorite people on Earth has lived a life of disability. And he plays a mean game of Monopoly.

Here, he connects the dots and provides a bit more insight: Treating people differently because of their disability can be dehumanizing. (And for some reason, that Monopoly line makes me cry every time.)

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Hopefully, after reading all that, you’re feeling clear on how to approach your diversity prompts and are excited to dive in. Have some fun exploring.

Click here to learn how to write essays for tons of different prompts.

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