Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences that was particularly meaningful to you. (Response required in about 150 words. Max 250 words)
For the past five years, I have participated in a service group called CTeen (Chabad Teen Network). It is comprised of about twenty-five Jewish teenagers from surrounding high schools. Every Sunday morning we have breakfast and class with our rabbi. We discuss current events and world dilemmas from a Jewish point of view. These discussions have deepened my understanding of Judaism and brought me closer to other members of CTeen. Through CTeen I have met many of my closest friends. My chapter annually travels to Brooklyn for a shabbaton in Crown Heights with 200 other CTeen chapters from around the world. Every year during this time I am imbued with the dedication of my community to our faith, and I experience a heightened connection to both Judaism and my friends. As president of my CTeen chapter and member of the International CTeen Leadership Board, I continue to be impacted by the authentic ideas and dedicated people I meet.
Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held. (Response required in about 150 words. Max 250 words)
Two summers ago I took AP Chemistry at Northwestern University through the Equinox Program. Taking an entire AP class in five weeks was extremely challenging; I learned time management, collaboration, independent living, and scientific laboratory and inquiry skills. This course really piqued my interest in the sciences, as it was my first exposure to chemistry at the university level. I became intrigued with the research happening in the labs I saw every day. My interest in research gained from that summer translated to last summer when I participated in Boston University’s Research in Science and Engineering program as a part of the intensive molecular biology practicum. I conducted scientific research with a group of my peers and learned many facets of university laboratory work. These experiences were pivotal to my passion for the sciences and guided me towards my interests in university level work.
Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way. (250 to 650 words)
Last summer I participated in molecular biology research at Boston University. Surrounded by 39 other high school seniors, I perceived with new clarity how an inquisitive, curious mind must interact in an unapologetic manner. Entering lectures about the basics of molecular biology, most of us initially thought we knew a great deal about biology. I quickly realized my naivete, and once I accepted my own ignorance, I settled into a passive absorption mode. The looks on all our faces told the same story. Well, all of ours except [Lauren]’s.
Brilliant and inquisitive, [Lauren] exhibited no fear raising her hand and boldly asking questions. Even during the portions of the lectures when we were simply reviewing concepts of biology, she never ceased to question the current topic. The first few times she asked questions, I thought she had little background knowledge so she just needed clarification. Yet as the first week progressed, I realized that not only did she have the background information required for this course but also the grit and determination needed for success in research. The levels of her questions stumped our lecturer at times and he responded, “I’ll have to get back to you on that one.”
Often I just wanted to yell, “PUT YOUR HAND DOWN!!!”, as my tolerance for her constant inquiry began to erode while sitting through her questions and their subsequent answers. Due to her deep and thought-provoking questions, she became the class pariah; not necessarily because she was annoying but because of her resolute and indefatigable inquisitiveness. She was insatiable in her pursuit of knowledge, like a ribosome clinging to the endoplasmic reticulum.
Yet as the course progressed, I finally began to notice the value of [Lauren]’s questions. She asked questions of importance, questions researchers must ask themselves every day. Her inquiries were thoughts no one else my age seemed to have. The depth and breadth of her ideas fascinated me, especially given that she was only sixteen.
[Lauren]’s questions made me realize the importance of questioning preconceived notions.
Subsequently, I became aware of my own willingness to challenge concepts that were accepted and taught as seemingly concrete, and I recognized the danger of blindly absorbing information without disputing it. Seeing the scholarly nature of [Lauren]’s intellectual curiosity, I began to emulate her queries during the final few weeks of the program. Not only did I get more out of the lectures, but I also gained the experience necessary to question ideas and facts and search for answers, a vital skill in every academic realm.
As a student with an interest in the sciences, I ask questions that may not have an obvious answer. As someone who strives for knowledge, I am willing to do research if what I am asking has no answer, but I do not simply possess an affinity toward knowledge. I wish to create it. Most young people cite coaches, teachers, or other adults as influential; however, for me, a peer-modeled approach to learning also has merit.
Your favorite book and its author: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Your favorite recording of music: “Countdown” by Beyoncé
Your favorite source of inspiration: Olivia Pope from Scandal
Your favorite line from a movie or book and its title: “We must cultivate our garden.” Candide
Your favorite movie: London Has Fallen
Two adjectives your friends would use to describe you: Quirky, Determined
Your favorite keepsake or memento: Old airline luggage tags
Your favorite word: Serendipity
Your favorite website: www.ted.com