The Dragon and I

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realizationthat sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

It felt like performing dental work on an apprehensive clam without any gloves; the ridges of the Dragon’s bony mouth scraped combatively against my knuckles as it swallowed its treasure. “I cannot imagine the faces of the horrified crowd behind me,” I pondered privately, “Could my parents show their faces here ever again?” This did not matter for me now. That Dragon iguana and I were the happiest beings on the beach for that sweet, beautifully disgusting moment.

Taking a pride in my heritage, I relish the yearly trips my parents and I take to visit my father’s family in Puerto Rico. From the quaint, vividly colored buildings in Old San Juan to the tropical, harmonious cries of coquí frogs and the breezy, palm tree studded beaches lining Santurce, the surreality of the island is enchanting. I hold great respect for the biodiversity that accompanies a tropical island, and I consider this respect an integral part of shaping the way I pursue a career.

Being scientifically fascinated with animals, I seek my dream career of helping the health and survival of various animals. Over the years, my basement has slowly transformed to a research laboratory, with glass tanks and screened enclosures shining glassy, round eyes at their...

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