By George Minkowski
TURRIALBA, COSTA RICA— While many of us spent our summers at camp or in summer school, one of our own spent 20 days in Costa Rica helping others and making herself more competitive for college admission.
When she wasn’t zip-lining or chilling on beaches, DHS Senior, Kathy Grasser, was having an incredible experience that “colleges totally love to hear about.”
Her trip was through a company called “Tropical Service Ventures.” Kathy, along with 11 other citizens of the world, surfed, snorkeled, rafted, and re-painted a wall at a school in a rural village for 30 hours of community service. The trip cost over $5,000 excluding airfare, but Kathy tells Flipside reporters, “You can’t put a price on helping others… or a perfect college admissions essay.”
“When I saw the devastating poverty in the village, that’s when I realized how hot it was outside. It was so painful for me there, especially because I got paint on my favorite pair or weekend jeans. The villagers or whatever have no idea how hard I worked to paint that wall and should be forever grateful that I chose to spend my summer doing a trip like that.”
Although Kathy may seem like a saint, she did however miss out on one service component on the trip. The group was going to help teach English to some students in a village 3 hours outside of San José but they decided it would be better if they were all well-rested for their Salsa lessons the following week.
But because the Common Application has a 250 word limit on her essay, Kathy will be omitting that detail and instead focusing on her “Mother Theresa like generosity.”
The Flipside got a chance to interview an admissions counselor at U of I to ask her how far Kathy’s philanthropy would get her. “Community service is important to us, but we like to see a bit more– wait! Did you say she painted a wall at a school in a rural village in Costa Rica?! Oh my gosh! The second coming!”

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