It is important for the University to understand the context of each applicant's accomplishments, both academic and nonacademic. Describe any unusual circumstances or challenges you have faced and the ways you have responded.

My first seven years were like night and day compared with the next ten. As the youngest in my extended family of cousins, aunts, and uncles, I was the center of attention, and my life felt as routine as clockwork. But that was all about to change.

Moving to the States when I was seven, I did not speak any English. Until then I had never been more than 100 miles from my hometown in China, which made this country all the more foreign. I started school in second grade and was soon caught in a dilemma. The language was a major stumbling block, but I had developed a certain introversion from being coddled all these years. The shock of anonymity made soliciting help difficult.

In my father's quest for a medical license, our family has moved constantly to wherever his residency or training was. In ten years, we've had six homes; sometimes it was just a move to the other side of town, others it was thousands of miles across the country. Almost every move entailed a new school, which meant a new circle of friends, teachers, and academic expectations. In stark contrast to my life in China, I was always the new kid, on the outside looking in. It felt like walking into private parties uninvited, as if I were some kind of...

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