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Biographical/Hardships Essay for Questbridge


Seeing my younger brother shiver under layers of heavy winter blankets despite the sweltering

heat of the summer and reach with a clammy hand to the tissue box beside his bed, I cannot

help but feel concerned. Hardly discernable through his reddened cheeks and puffy nose, a

slight smirk breaks upon his face, causing the thermometer to drop from his mouth. ““100.9 °

Fahrenheit”” my mother murmurs as she quickly picks it up from the thick layers of insulation.

Her voice, despite the clear combination of worry and anxiety, belies the good news: today we

are going to a doctor. Although not the first time since my father lost his job at AT&T nearly

seven years ago, our visits to the doctor’’s office have been few and far between. His severance,

terminating our health insurance policy and forcing my family to avoid seeing doctors to evade

the exorbitantly high medical fees, made us akin to the millions who suffer financially. My

firsthand experience with the heart-wrenching sacrifices of lack of medical coverage ultimately

leads to my interest in a medical profession.


Last winter, I suffered nearly five months of constant coughing, wheezing, and shortness of

breath before finally receiving proper medical attention. No doubt, my physical pains were

eclipsed by the emotional toll my parents paid when opting to postpone medical care in hope my

condition would naturally resolve itself. Evidently not the case after three months, my parents

wavered in their staunchness and reluctantly took me to the nearest emergency clinic for a cheap

diagnosis. However, this economical approach was not the case as I ““required immediate chest

x-rays to rule out bronchitis””. The $550 charge, in addition to the administrative fee, more

than tripled the money my parents had allocated to solve my medical mystery and required a

withdrawal from our dwindling checking account. Obliged to consent to the imaging, my mother

nervously awaited the results to see if I had been ravished unknowingly by a deadly infectious

disease. The images, although showing no signs of bronchitis, were ambiguous in context to the

original symptoms. Frustrated with having spent so much money only to find out what was not

bothering my lungs, my parents seemed to redouble their hopes in letting my body recovering on

its own.


In two months, my condition deteriorated to the point where I constantly coughed blood

and mucous. Finally forced to make an appointment with a real doctor, my mother returned

to my pediatrician despite several years of absence and foregone check-ups. Dr. Silverman

professionally diagnosed my acute symptoms as asthma with a short listening with his

stethoscope. Amazed at how he was able to confidently diagnose without the assistance of

powerful x-ray imaging, I retold the story of my prior experience with the emergency clinic.

Shaking his head, Dr. Silverman grimaced as he said ““You were scammed””. Then continuing

to explain how many medical practitioners order expensive tests to ““rule out”” certain

diseases, he prescribed an inhaler which almost instantly minimized my symptoms. Sighing as

he lamented ““the restrictive access to accurate medical information”” that ultimately leaves

patients vulnerable to fraud, Dr. Silverman waived the consultation fees, bringing tears to my

mother’’s eyes. This gesture of kindness in a health care system wrought with deception and

obscene charges inspired me to emulate the compassion my pediatrician showed me.


No longer dreaming about multiple cars, fancy mansions, and heaps of money typically

associated with success, but rather aspiring to help others, I have grown to recognize the blatant

selfishness around me. The dilemma of healthcare, seen firsthand, encourages me to avoid the

root of the problem: money. Determined to run a non-profit organization dedicated to treating


the needy free of charge, I have shed the self-absorbed bubble of youth and realized that today’’s

problems are only solvable by tomorrow’’s leaders.



Questbridge essay (significant experience)


Faced with the monumental task of writing an essay that somehow defines me or makes me

stand out and seem memorable, I swelter in the heat of my own indecision and hopelessness.

Whittling all my high school achievements, both inside the classroom and out, to one significant

experience proves to be challenging. I futilely vacillate between the positive influences

Student Government Association has had on refining my leadership skills and the numerous

awards I have won for my exuberant volunteer work. Then my involvement in multiple school

organizations and my rigorous curricular schedule come to mind, effectively stifling all progress

towards anything slightly resembling a finely tuned application essay. Frustrated, I reach for the

one dependable source of solace in my room now littered with stressors: a Rubik’’s Cube.


The multicolored cube buried beneath the dishevelment of papers and pencils covering my

desk functions more as stress reliever than a mental exercise. As I probe the untidiness, the

familiarity of its sharp corners and grooved faces on the tips of my fingers brings comfort and a

brief reprieve from the clutter in my mind. In my hands, the six gleaming colors grin at me from

their solved state. I quickly scramble the cube until it is no longer recognizable as the simple

paper weight of moments ago, but as a mechanical riddle of intricately woven pieces. My goal

is simple: match the nine squares of all six faces with their corresponding colors. Giving me an

encouraging nod, the Rubik’’s Cube logo smiles at me as I study the faces intently, memorizing

key positions for reference later. I start twisting and turning the cube dexterously in my nimble

hands. Beginning with the white side, I first manipulate a cross and fill in the remaining corners

of the first face. Then, turning the cube upside down, I attack the puzzle layer by layer, seeing

it not as an amalgamation of six faces but a combination of three separate stratums. From here,

habit takes over as I am free to wander aimlessly in my thoughts as my trained hands adroitly

perform the complex algorithms in order to situate certain pieces in their proper positions.


Professional as I may seem while solving the Rubik’’s Cube, I can never escape my humble

beginnings. Recalling how, as a novice, I performed basic and calculated experiments to discover

any unique properties, I realize that this cube has acted as a catalyst for my mental maturation.

The puzzle that lies unlocked in my hands retained its secrets long enough to instill patience and

determination, all while entertaining me. But moreover, the cube taught me what brute resolve

or infinite willpower cannot: perspective. Necessitating counterintuitive thinking to solve this

complexly engineered puzzle, I have gained a unique perception, applicable to more than just

mind puzzles. Last, but not least, the Rubik’’s Cube as rekindled a penchant for discovery as

nothing is quite like the feeling of achievement in one’’s hands.


Third Questbridge Essay

Gliese 581g, despite its unflattering name, holds the power to change our world. Locked in

this rocky planet nearly twice the size of the Earth could lay the gratification of centuries

of searching the night skies and over many millennia of pondering the deceptively

simple question: ““Are we alone?”” In the habitable zone of its star, Gliese 581g is the

first ““Goldilocks’’ planet”” ever found in the known galaxy. Not too close in its orbit to

resemble the charred deathbed of Mercury nor too distant to liken to the frozen ice ball of

Pluto, Gliese 581g is positioned ““just right”” to be the potential oasis of Earth. Liquid water,

a very real possibility for this otherwise unremarkable planet, completes the bare minimum

requirements for life. Fascinatingly, the discovery of Gliese 581g could very well house an

unimaginable array of life, from colonies of simple bacteria to civilizations even far more

technologically advanced than our own.


Just the thought of discovering extraterrestrial life, even if totally uncharacteristic of the

numerous alien creatures described in countless science-fiction novels and movies infiltrating

human culture, is enough to excite me nearly to the point of obsession. My interest in the

discovery life outside of our planet is mainly associated with, ironically, the implications it

would have for life on Earth. Thrusting humankind into a new era of understanding by realizing

that life is not simply secluded to the inconspicuous corner of the galaxy that is the Earth, the

breakthrough findings of life elsewhere in the universe could provide a uniquely humbling

and uniting experience. Rational thought would prevail as the masses removed from their

previously ignorant minds the conceited assertion that our home planet is the only one of

its kind. The single discovery of extraterrestrial life would have the impact of what multiple

combined ““Enlightenment”” movements can not achieve: unifying the human race as one.

Seeing past racial, ethnical, national, social, economic or cultural barriers, the world would gain

a whole new perspective as the realization that life does not discriminate sinks in.


Pondering the possibilities of life, I am bombarded with multiple questions in my head. How

much is life there similar to life on Earth? Has intelligent life developed? Is it possible for us

to communicate with them? I futilely try to answer these questions with hypothetical answers,

knowing that they, although possible, hold the slightest chances of being correct. Personally, I

envision a wealth of intelligent life forms not based on the genetic code of deoxyribonucleic acid

(DNA), but something unimaginably different. Visualizing communication, despite the inherent

differences between life forms, through the intermediary language of mathematics and science, I

dream of intergalactic symbiotic relationships forming. As knowledge of unprecedented events

and unique experiences on both worlds are shared, an unparalleled period of worldly peace and

scientific advancements would commence. However, the unknowns are far too great, and for

now my excitement is placated by the potential of Gliese 581g.



Colleges Sent ToEdit

Emory University : Accepted

UVA: Waitlisted

University of Pennsylvania : Denied

Amherst: Waitlisted

Northwestern: Waitlisted

Vassar: Accepted

Pomona: Denied

Williams: Waitlisted

CredentialsEdit

GPA: 3.9

SAT: 2250 (1500 M+R/ 750W)