Essay Questions

What is your most memorable childhood experience?My most memorable childhood experience is climbing the Rocky Mountains with my mom and brother. My mom is a botanist and would often go on long hikes to look for new plants to study. She brought me and my brother to one area in the Rocky Mountains. She had us bring two sledgehammers and we laboriously climbed the trail with these heavy hammers. Near the peak, we stopped, and she pointed out some rocks and asked us to use the hammers to break it open. We did so and to my amazement we found wonderfully preserved fossils of ancient sea creatures. Despite being high in the mountains, we were finding evidence of sea life from hundreds of millions of years ago. This experience sparked a love for science and the outdoors.
What immediate family member do you closely identify with and why?I closely identify with my grandma. She immigrated to the United States from China when I was born to help take care of me. She raised me with unconditional love and taught me to respect and love my friends and family and to cherish them. Despite only having some high school education, she was incredibly industrious and was a small business owner. She encouraged me to pursue a career in medicine and from a young age encouraged my curiosity and love of academics. She also gave me perspective that intelligence and success can be measured in countless ways and taught me to empathize with all people that I interact with.
What character traits do you admire in an individual?There are several character traits I admire in an individual. Many of these traits come in pairs and balance each other. For example, I value ambition because it motivates drives us towards self-improvement, but it must be balanced by humility. Other pairs of traits that I admire are curiosity and perspective, intelligence and wisdom, independence and respect for others.
What is the funniest thing ever to happen to you?I was a young kid and took piano lessons with a Russian tutor who had many disciples. She would hold a recital twice a year for all her students to perform in front of all the families. The fall recital is always scheduled around Halloween, and everyone would dress up in costumes. One particular year I decided to carve a pumpkin and put it over my head. Though heavy and cumbersome, it made for a memorable costume and so I decided to play the recital with the pumpkin on. Unfortunately, mid-way through my musical piece, I accidentally breathed in a tendril of pumpkin innards, and it caused me to sneeze forcefully, and it rotated the pumpkin 90 degrees on my head. I of course could no longer see anything at all and had to finish playing the piece blind with a lopsided pumpkin on my head, to the audience’s amusement.
If time and money were not an issue, where would you travel and why?If time and money were not an issue, I would travel to Greece. I love Greco-Roman history and mythology. The Greek fables sparked my curiosity and imagination from a young age. As a child, I spent countless hours reading and play acting the fantastical yet tragic tales of Achilles, Odysseus, Icarus, Prometheus, and Hercules. In a world of swords and shields and monsters, these tales also taught lessons of morality and humanity. For example, the lessons of Sisyphus and his eternal struggles rolling the boulder up the hill can apply to the lifelong journey of pursuing a career in academics and medicine. I would love to travel to Greece and visit the city-states and islands of the Aegean and Mediterranean that inspired these legends.
When and if you ever have children, what would you like to pass on to them?When I have children, I would like to pass on the desire for self-improvement and the drive to cherish your friends and family. Regardless of what interests they have or what careers they choose, having the internal incentive and motivation to continually self-improve will allow them to find joy and purpose in their work and life. I also believe that having a love and appreciation for the friends and family in their lives is critical. This is the community that will support you and that you should in turn also support. These people also give more meaning to personal accomplishments.