A portion of Jennifer's winning essay:
Though science is predominately considered a male-dominant field, I have always considered myself a "science kid". Simply learning about how the world works, as well as my place in it, has intrigued me from the time I was a little girl. Not only have I constantly been asking questions of my surroundings but I have, at the same time, been searching for the answers. I received my first microscope at the age of five and knew immediately that I was meant to do great things with such technology, though I started simply analyzing insects and blood through prepared slides. I will never forget one day in my sixth summer, when I fell off of my bicycle while out riding with some friends. Unlike other children, who would have started to scream at the blood starting to trickle from my kneecap, I was fascinated by it, sprinted inside, and immediately prepared a slide of my blood which I spent a few hours analyzing under the microscope.
My interest in science almost came to a halt during my Junior high years, however, as my one-year-old brother contracted AML, or Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. I was baffled, as I was a girl who had always been able to look up a cure, look up a solution for every problem in my life, and here was a personal situation over which I exercised no control. I became angry at science for it seemed that the doctors and nurses and researchers on my brother's case could not seem to find an answer, a reality that seemed impossible to me. Moreover, I became increasingly angry with myself, for I had absolutely no idea how to cure my brother, how to take away his pain, and how to stop the disease that was ravaging his body. I, ironically, researched leukemia as much as possible trying to discover what exactly was going on with my baby brother. After his rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant failed, I closed my books and stopped caring. With the loss of my little brother, it seemed as if I had run out of time, as if I was responsible because I simply was not quick enough, smart enough, skilled enough to have done anything for him. Then, after about a year of self pity and despair, I turned to a productive "revenge" coming to terms with the fact that I was too young to have done anything for him. In the future, I do have the ability and I do have the calling to cure other children just like him. Therefore my interest in science is not only rooted in my passion for learning more about my world, but it has a personal attachment- to complete something I know I have been called my entire life to do. I am not the average Pre-med student, completing the hours and requirements with a financial or "glory" goal in mind- I am a Biology major, a Pre-med student, because science has personally touched my life, and I know I am meant to give back and help as many people as I can.
Science is thus essentially my calling in life, for though I have an affinity for writing and a talent (though not a love) for mathematics, it is a science laboratory in which I feel comfortable, in which I feel at home. I am lucky to have had some amazing teachers who only furthered this love, sharing with me their passion for what they do, their passion for constantly learning more about their surrounding world. Their teachings, however, were not limited to Mendelian Genetics or to the taxonomy of the living world-- these teachers taught me that, in learning, lies great happiness and great opportunities for which I was destined.
As I have matured, I have maintained my interest and passion for science, doubling the science credit requirement for graduation in high school and denoting Biology as my major in the University of South Carolina. Though science classes were clearly not the "cool" thing to do in high school, I took multiple classes each year, all of them in the Honors or Advanced Placement level, in order to try and fulfill my desire to learn. I found that many high school classes were not enough, and as I moved on with my career planning, I decided that science is not only what I want to study for the next four years at college, but what I want to work with for the rest of my life. Though Biology is my major, I am also on the Honors Pre-medical track, as I learned also that I was not only meant to discover the answers to my world but to help others as well. Biology was a natural choice for my major-- it is all-encompassing, allowing me to learn about genetics, cellular metabolism, classification, animal structure and behavior and evolution all while preparing me for medical school. Biology is diverse enough that it will constantly keep me entertained and enthralled, without "running out" of knowledge that I am eagerly anticipating acquiring, but specific in that there is no chance of me studying erroneous information that I can never use.
My Biology major opens many doors--not simply in the medical field, but as a learned scholar who deserves respect in the workplace, and with a Biology major, is inherently reputable and hard-working. My Biology major will not be an easy task to accomplish, rather it is a high-aiming goal, but it is what I have been passionate about my entire life and I know I will stop at nothing less. After my four years of undergraduate study at the University of South Carolina my career goals are to continue on to Medical school in my home state of Maryland at the Johns Hopkins Medical School, and after my requisite years of residency, to become a Pediatric Oncologist. After my brother's leukemia I was able to put my love for children and interest in science together with the personal attachments I have to Oncology with the goal to find a cure. I am interested in pursuing stem cell research in attempting to find a successful treatment for cancer, and I know I not only have the intellect but also the emotional stability and drive to accomplish my goals. I have verve and a calling to help children like my brother, to help future generations, and with the research opportunities of Oncology I remain resolute in my goals. I have long dreamed of walking a pristine hall in a lab coat, knowing I have changed a child's life forever, and I actually have an opportunity to do just that. I lead a balanced life, from running track in high school to the aspirations to join a sorority down at the University of South Carolina, yet underneath all of my current success lies my aspirations and goals for the future. Who I am is shaped completely by who I have known, what I have done, and what I plan to do. I am planning on minoring in Medical Humanities in order to research the ethical side to medicine, and I know that I am truly destined for greatness.
I consider doctors to be "miracle workers"-- they are able to accomplish that which, years ago, was merely impossible. The opportunity to change a child's life, to offer them a life whereas otherwise they may not have had one, is one I cannot wait to experience. I do not see the point of simply dabbling in science, I prefer, rather, to quote Alexander Pope in saying "A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain, And drinking largely sobers us again." I am ready to "drink deep" in my studies and future in science, I am looking forward to understanding my world, understanding myself, and making a difference.