New York Times publishes Northland Prep student essay

By Jamar Younger

Each year, the New York Times solicits college application essays from thousands of high school seniors around the country who choose to address money, work or social class as their topics.

The newspaper published five essays this year, including a piece authored by Tillena Trebon, an Arizona public charter student who is set to graduate this month from Northland Preparatory Academy in Flagstaff.

In this poetic essay, Trebon describes the intersection of urban and rural existence in her life, how she balances these contradictions and how she’ll continue to “crave experiences only found at the edge” as she enters adulthood.

Here’s an except from Trebon’s essay, which you can read here in its entirety:

By Tillena Trebon

I live on the edge.

I live at the place where trees curl into bushes to escape the wind. My home is the slippery place between the suburbs and stone houses and hogans.

I see the evolution of the telephone poles as I leave the reservation, having traveled with my mom for her work. The telephone poles on the reservation are crooked and tilted with wire clumsily strung between them. As I enter Flagstaff, my home, the poles begin to stand up straight. On one side of me, nature is a hobby. On the other, it is a way of life.

I live between a suburban land of plenty and a rural land of scarcity, where endless skies and pallid grass merge with apartment complexes and outdoor malls.

I balance on the edge of drought.

In the summers, when the rain doesn’t come, my father’s truck kicks dust into the air. A layer of earthy powder settles over the wildflowers and the grass. The stale ground sparks ferocious wildfires. Smoke soars into the air like a flare from a boat lost at sea. Everyone prays for rain. We fear that each drop of water is the last. We fear an invasion of the desert that stretches around Phoenix. We fear a heat that shrivels the trees, turns them to cactuses.

I exist at the epicenter of political discourse. Fierce liberalism swells against staunch conservatism in the hallways of my high school and on the streets of the downtown.

When the air is warm, the shops and restaurants open their doors. Professionals in suits mingle with musicians and artists sporting dreadlocks and ripped jeans. Together, they lament the drought, marvel at the brevity of the ski season.

I live on the edge of an urban and rural existence. Click here to read more.