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a_vmack/TikTok

Of the more than 57,000 graduating high school students who applied to Harvard this year, only 3.43% were accepted and given the chance to join the Ivy League university's class of 2025.

One of those lucky few was 18-year-old Abigail Mack.

Mack was thrilled to discover her acceptance to Harvard. She was open enough to go on TikTok to share the application essay that helped get her there.

Her essay—which outlined how losing her mother to cancer upended her entire life and forced Mack to overcome the challenge of a lifetime—captured the hearts of countless people on TikTok.

Mack shared the entire essay in a four-part series of TikTok videos. It's safe to say Mack moved at least a few people to tears.

In an intro video before reading the essay, Mack described the main hook of the essay—she's always hated the letter "S."

@a_vmack

The Common App Essay that got me into Harvard #harvard #ShadowAndBone #SkipTheRinse #college #loss #singleparent #fyp

Then Mack read her essay's introduction, which expanded on her hatred of the letter "S" and all the emotions it stirs up.

"I hate the letter 'S.' Of the 164,777 words with 'S,' I only grapple with one. To condemn an entire letter because of its use 0.0006 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."

Mack continued reading.

"'S' follows me. I can't get through a day without being reminded that while my friends went out to dinner with their parents, I ate with my parent."
"As I write this essay, there is a blue line under the word 'parent' telling me to check my grammar; even Grammarly assumes that I should have parents, but cancer doesn't listen to edit suggestions."
"I won't claim that my situation is as unique as one in 164,777, but it is still an exception to the rule—an outlier. The world isn't meant for this special case."

As a second video showed, Mack's essay then covered how she coped with the constant reminder of her mother's untimely death.

Mack threw herself into activities to avoid confronting those moments usually set aside for a pair of parents. She became known as the "busy kid."

In part three, Mack shared the next portion of her essay.

She said all the busyness eventually led her to find things she truly enjoyed and committed to on her own terms.

Some things were so important to her they became much more than a distraction from "S."

Mack's essay concluded with her explanation that, even at 18 year old, she's managed to find healthier ways to live and grow in a world without her mother.

TikTokers were touched and impressed by both Mack's writing and perseverance.

Katherine Quintero/TikTok


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In an interview with BuzzFeed, Mack happily shared advice for all those impressed by her work and wondering how they can do what they need to succeed.

"Pour your passion, whatever it is, into every fiber of your application."
"Your college application is a culmination of everything you've done in high school. You've already put in the work, so the hardest part is done. Now, you just have to put pen to paper, share what you've accomplished, and, most importantly, illustrate how you plan to make a difference going forward in your own, unique way."

We wish Mack only the best as she winds through the years ahead of her—and hones that passion she's just begun to glimpse.

To close, Mack couldn't leave out a clip of her very raw, shocked reaction to her acceptance.

There's plenty of screaming, and it's amazing.

@a_vmack

I didn’t have a voice for a week after this 🥰 #harvard #college #accepted #fyp #foryou #xyzbca #MakeMomEpic