The House of Cards Came Crashing

C. There are limitations to what grades, scores, and recommendations can tell us about any applicant. We ask you to write a personal essay that will help us to know you better. In the past, candidates have written about their families, intellectual and extracurricular interests, ethnicity or culture, school and community events to which they have had strong reactions, people who have influenced them, significant experiences, personal aspirations, or topics that spring entirely from their imaginations. There is no "correct" response. Write about what matters to you, and you are bound to convey a strong sense of who you are.


Just as the plane landed, I closed The Fountainhead interrupting Ayn Rand's famous courtroom speech. Everything Rand wrote about, from individualism to selfishness, all made sense. As I stepped foot into the dreary airport, I knew I wasn't in Scottsdale anymore. Being my first time below the equator, I was quite eager to visit Rio di Janeiro. A young man greeted my family and offered to drive us to our hotel for 60 real, roughly $18. I could tell our driver was sharp. He had a calculating look to him, but still had a gregariousness that made me feel comfortable; I thought to myself that he probably could have been quite wealthy if he lived in the United States. My father haggled down to 45 real and we hopped in the cab. At the time, I didn't think about how the driver could use the money we haggled away from him. After all, we live in a capitalistic world. As we drove into the congested city, I began to see tall skyscrapers, surrounded by tarpaper structures. The structures appeared as if a gust of wind would send them floating away. Our driver told us that the structures were called 'favelas.' Homeless people began squatting on government land and constructing houses with driftwood, old bricks and plywood...

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