He wrote an essay about how he made the best of the most embarrassing moment in his life and got into Harvard
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 20, 2023. It has since been updated.
Memes are images, videos, or pieces of text that are shared widely across the internet and often carry a humorous or satirical message. They can take many forms, from photos and videos to catchphrases and cultural references that spread rapidly through social media platforms. Often we come across memes that are just hilarious pictures of people who are living entirely different lives outside of the internet bubble. While at times people regret being turned into memes, there are some who completely embrace this identity and might use it to their advantage. In fact, the "Crying Northwestern Kid" leveraged his meme fame to aid him in gaining admission to college, as reported by Distractify.
The internet gave rise to the Crying Northwestern Kid meme in 2017, featuring a 12-year-old boy wearing a purple Northwestern jersey while attending a Northwestern Wildcats game in the NCAA Tournament during March Madness. When the referee made a call in favor of the opposing team, the boy was captured on camera in anguish over the announcement. His emotional reactions to the game were widely covered by sports media at the time. This 12-year-old boy was John Phillips and he doesn't really qualify as an average Wildcats fan.
According to The Sporting News, he and his four siblings grew up surrounded by Northwestern sporting teams. His father, Jim, was the school's sports director at the time. John spent a lot of time with the squad, which explains his responses at the March Madness 2017 game. The child exhibits various facial expressions that convey both disbelief and distress, which are ideal for creating reaction images and GIFs to express strong emotions. Whether you're expressing anger on social media or sharing your frustrations with friends in a group chat, the facial expressions of the "Northwestern Kid" crying are perfect for the occasion.
Although John undoubtedly had a difficult experience during that particular segment of the game, he was able to leverage his meme notoriety in his college applications. He composed his essay for admission to Harvard University about his experience as the Crying Northwestern Kid, emphasizing how he confronted and embraced his most humiliating moment. This, in addition to his other qualifications, helped him gain admission to the university.
John Phillips, who is currently wrapping up his freshman year, provides a fascinating illustration of how individuals whose images and videos were formerly turned into memes can leverage their fame to attain success. In his college essay, he wrote about learning to love and protect the side of himself that is enthusiastic, even if it sometimes leads to embarrassment. "But today, I am proud to be that crying kid with shining braces, exposed rubber bands, and thickly gelled hair. ... Every day, I choose to be that kid—for his lively spirit, infectious enthusiasm, and compassionate understanding.
Being "turned into a meme" might seem embarrassing at first but it is extremely fun and advantageous if you participate in it. Andrew Garfield during the Oscars 2023 gave the internet a meme-worthy expression, which the internet happily went on to use to create Oscar night memes. In his opening monologue, host Jimmy Kimmel alluded to the notorious Will Smith slap and singled out the audience members who could shield him from any potential violence. Kimmel also highlighted a few famous personalities who portrayed fictional characters, such as Pedro Pascal's "Mandalorian," Michael B. Jordan's "Adonis Creed," and Andrew Garfield's "Spider-Man." When the camera focused on Garfield, he flashed an unsettling yet comical grin that conveyed a sense of "just wave and smile for the cameras."