Asking Why Not

Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.


One year ago, on a muggy summer morning, I boarded a plane with some of my classmates and teachers, headed for Ecuador. The trip was intended to reveal a different world to us, as well as aid a local elementary school in a state of disrepair. A week into the trip, after sightseeing and living in the jungle, we took a short canoe journey up the Amazon River to what appeared to be a death trap disguised as stairs. Shoeless children led us down a path forged of worn planks laid across swamp-like terrain, until we spotted what looked to be an abandoned building, which in reality was their school. Wasps’ nests lay deep inside holes in the wall, bullet ants dashed along rugged borders, and nail-length splinters poked out of the handful of wooden desks. The closet-sized bathroom stood within 15 feet of the drinking water and reeked of a smell I could only recognize as the aroma of a port-a-john after an NFL game. Screaming children laughed and clustered around a damaged soccer ball as two adults approached us with ear-to-ear grins as if they had just received a great gift. Despite the horrific conditions in which they lived, these people were some of the kindest and most joyful friends I have ever made. They expressed a rare form of...

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