Essay Questions

What is your most memorable childhood experience?During second grade school recess, I would lead my friends on "missions." For the first few weeks, we would walk through the nearby trees and look for different bugs and plants, trying to map out the habitats of the little critters. We soon found a favorite circle of pine trees, which we chose as our base. Next, we set our sights on collecting as many pinecones as possible and within a few days our stash was overflowing. Satisfied with our pinecone supply, we decided that clay balls were the perfect progression. Soon after, we had worked out a small supply chain, with two friends ferrying the water from an outdoor tap using a plastic tub, two others forming the clay balls from the earth, and others setting them out on bricks we collected to let them dry. We would have competitions of who could throw them farthest or most accurately. The kids one year older than us saw this, and soon they too had set up a small base in another part of the yard. Then, one of us found a shovel, and so we started digging a small trench around the entrances to our clearing. It felt like we were in our own world. Every week, we would work together on something new, and every school day I would wake up looking forward to playing outside during recess. From devising different competitions, saving bugs from the soccer field, finding wasps nests to warn other kids about, to building snow forts in the winter, our team was always together. Some years later, when I had begun college, I met a fellow student who attended the same school after I left. I was ecstatic to hear that the tradition of building bases and making clay balls had been continuing even five years after my family and I had moved away.
What immediate family member do you closely identify with and why?I identify closely with my brother. On the surface, this might be surprising. My brother is an athlete, who is always practicing or competing, while I am always learning and programming. While he would rather relax by watching sports, I prefer discussing philosophy and evolution or reading about history. Our interests may not always line up, but our values and convictions do. We both put our family first, and I know that I can completely rely on my brother to do the right thing. We are also both extremely motivated, working hard towards our goals, and supporting each other on our journeys. Best of all, I know we will always be friends. When we are together, we are always having fun, joking around and sharing what is new in our lives.
What character traits do you admire in an individual?First and foremost, I admire compassion towards other people and loyalty towards those you love. I admire people who fully consider the consequences of their actions on others, and always make sure to help their family and friends in need. I am most inspired by people who believe in something greater than themselves and are determined to achieve meaningful goals. Whether this is by making changes in their own lives or community, or trying to fix a global issue, I admire people who try to live according to their ideals.
What is the funniest thing ever to happen to you?As a teacher’s assistant, I almost ruined a class experiment. In High School, molecular genetics class was my favorite. We were running an experiment to compare different DNA samples, and I was demonstrating the procedure to the class. This required using a “loading dye” which would make the samples visible. The instructions called for 2.95 microliters of this loading dye to be added. So, I added it to my sample, and carried on with the demonstration. A few minutes later, the teacher asked the class why we had run out of loading dye so quickly. It turned out, much to the everyone’s amusement, I had used 29.5 microliters instead of 2.95. My experiment came out as an unreadable smudge, but I taught myself, and the whole class, to be more careful with decimal places.
If time and money were not an issue, where would you travel and why?I would travel to see the ancient monuments of the world. It is inspiring to see these timeless symbols that were built for posterity. By combining ingenuity, innovation, and sheer will, our ancestors created and reached for the eternal. Face to face with some of the greatest human achievements, I find beauty in the big picture.
When and if you ever have children, what would you like to pass on to them?I would like to pass on critical thinking, self-discipline, and compassion. The world is rarely black and white, full of gray spaces and complex scenarios, and I believe being able to think critically is vital to understanding our lives and making the best decisions. A broader, long-term perspective is important for long-term satisfaction. My grandparents and parents lived through dramatic regime changes and a free mind helped them overcome. Ideas should be challenged and validated so that you can navigate the world, and teaching a child to think for themselves will make sure they can overcome different challenges in the future. Self-discipline and resilience are crucial for people to be able to do the right thing even when tested, and to take the right path. All the goals in the world can’t happen if you don’t learn the self-discipline to pursue them and stay persistent. The most rewarding experiences in my life have been through working diligently even when I had to overcome myself, and I would want to share that. Compassion means understanding the struggles which others are facing and trying to help them. Being able to empathize with challenges that you personally have not faced allows you to support family, friends, and strangers, and is important to being a full person. Sometimes, compassion means doing a lot, but day to day, even just a few words can lift someone’s mood. I would aim to teach my children to be compassionate and build up the people around them.