Learning to Adapt

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


I had spent the whole morning preparing to execute an Olympic worthy backflip into my aunt’s community pool. It was the summer before 6th grade; I stood at the edge, took one deep breath, and launched myself into the air. I imagined the intense satisfaction I’d feel as the cool water touched my sun kissed skin, but suddenly everything went dark. I tasted an unpleasant mix of iron and chlorine, climbed out of the water, and tried wiping my face clean. I remained still as blood poured from my forehead.

My head had collided with the concrete edge of the pool, tearing open the skin on my forehead and revealing part of my skull. I should have been paralyzed by my own fear. I was ten years old, completely alone, losing more blood than I had ever seen before. I should have screamed and cried, but I did not. With my skull exposed and blood cascading down my face, I stood up, walked over to the pay phone, and dialed my aunt’s number. With an untroubled voice I explained to her that I broke my face. In that moment I had a striking realization: I was primed for situations like this.

Growing up, my household was like the Ringling Brothers Circus. My single mom juggled a number of odd jobs to support four hyperactive children, one of which...

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