College Admission Essay to Brown University :
Elisa Tatiana Juárez – Miami - Florida
Based on her research in osteoporosis and gerontology, Elisa has won awards in a number of competitions including the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and the South Florida Science and Engineering Fair. But each time she entered a competition, she noticed that economically disadvantaged students were underrepresented. She did something to change this. Working with the Miami Museum of Science and Big Brothers Big Sisters, she founded the Students and Teachers Advocating Research Science (STARS) program to assist disadvantaged middle school children. A graduate of Coral Reef Senior High, Elisa has been recognized for her work and won both the Hispanic Heritage Youth Award and the Target All-Around Scholarship.
Birks and Barbie - Brown University
I am not a Barbie doll. I came to that realization the day I discovered the power of Birkenstocks. As we all know, Barbie is genetically engineered by marketing professionals to wear stiletto heels every day of her life which makes it impossible for her to even consider Birkenstocks. On the other hand, I have molded my Birkenstocks to my feet. To put my feet into a pair of five-inch spikes would be criminal. This whole concept is quite simple actually. Here let me explain. Which of the new and improved Barbie dolls stands up against all odds and wins international science awards? Or walks through the streets of México teaching children Bible stories? Or spends her Saturdays in downtown Miami feeding homeless people? How many times have you heard of Barbie advocating the rights of women and minorities? Never, as far as I know.
When I was younger I never had a Barbie doll. There was something about her that I just didn’t like. Growing up, I remember getting chemistry and biology kits as gifts, not a plastic doll with long blonde hair and beyond perfect measurements. Now, don’t get me wrong, Barbie is a wonderful inspiration to many of us. She teaches wonderful marketing skills, she stands for the capitalism America is known for…whether or not that is a good thing is up to you. Still, I was very disappointed when I dissected a neighbor’s Barbie one day and discovered that there was nothing inside.
She was empty, hollow, uninteresting scientifically and I soon lost interest. I mentioned that Barbie does not wear Birkenstocks. How would that help you learn more about me? When I slip on a pair of Birks I feel invincible. I think it has to do with the stories my mother told me growing up. Protesting against the Vietnam War, wearing flowers in her hair and fighting for peace, all the while sporting leather sandals. Those stories have been an inspiration to me. She made me think of all the things that I was capable of doing. She was the one who gave me my first pair of Birks and planted in them was the power of invincibility. To this day I wear my Birkenstocks to everything I do that is non-conventional. I tend to look at life outside the box unlike Barbie whose imagination and very existence depends on the plastic box that surrounds her.
Never once in my life did I imagine that I would compete one day against the best high school science projects in the world. Through my perseverance, tenacity and faith in myself, I was able to not only fulfill my dream, but also to do more. Due to my success in science fairs internationally, I began to sense that it was not fair that other kids weren’t given the same opportunities. This motivated me to start a project involving middle and elementary school age children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to come together and create with exciting projects. The goal of this project is to give kids confidence in science. So what if they come from disadvantaged backgrounds? They should have the same opportunities as others. The group of kids I am working with now is small, but they are so excited about science and research. Just the other day, one of my girls came up to me and said, “I don’t really like science, my thing is literature and English, but these workshops have given me the opportunity to explore and have fun learning about science. Now I actually like it.” I have helped someone discover that science isn’t just something that crazy guys in white lab coats do.
When I look around at the girls in my school, I wonder which girls spent a lot of time with Barbie growing up. Maybe they’re the ones more concerned with what they look like on the outside and not on the inside. The ones who worry more about who will take them to prom than whether they will graduate from high school. The ones who worry about dating the guy who drives the newest model of car, when right down the street young kids are worrying about where they’ll get their next meal. Don’t get me wrong. I am not bitter, or even envious. I am proud of who I am. I am proud to be the girl who always wears those not very attractive sandals. I am proud to try to be that invincible revolutionary girl who wears her Birks.
Why This Essay Succeeded…
From the first, stark sentence, Elisa draws us in with her rejection of Barbie - that all-American childhood toy. This essay would have fallen flat if Elisa did not do a sound job of showing why Barbie holds no interest for her and how her passions represent the exact opposite of what Barbie is perceived to be. Elisa’s essay is very thoughtful without being overly philosophical. The part about dissecting Barbie to fi nd her empty is a perfect image that captures how her intellectual curiosity contrasts to Barbie.
In her essay Elisa does not just tell us what she is not. She also provides an image of what she is…a pair of well-worn Birkenstocks. We see how the Birkenstocks came to symbolize perseverance and how she has learned to think on a large scale and be willing to contribute. Throughout the essay Elisa incorporates her accomplishments without giving unnecessary detail. If the admission officers want to learn more about her work with the homeless or science fair achievements they can look at her application form. It would be a waste of space to reiterate what can be found elsewhere in the application. This is a prime example of when less is better.
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