The Committee on Admission is interested in getting to know each candidate as well as possible through the application process. The following essay question is designed to demonstrate your writing skills and facilitate our full appreciation of who you are. The quality of Rice’s academic life and the Residential College System is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings.
What perspective do you feel that you will contribute to life at Rice? (Most applicants are able to respond successfully in two to three double-spaced pages. In everything I do, I try to reach out to people. My connection with others is what drives me. I like to observe people, to get to know people, to show people who I am. I think that what moves many people (myself included) is the idea that we are all alike. There is a quote from the French film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly which resonates with me: “We’re all children, we all need approval. ” This quote shows that we are driven by similar hopes, emotions, and experiences and we can come together to achieve great things.
This perspective has allowed me to connect with classmates, strangers, and family in my experiences as the school’s Social Services prefect, as a volunteer at North York General Hospital, and as a granddaughter in a large family. The Diving Bell ; the Butterfly is a beautiful film about a once-successful editor of Elle magazine, Jean-Dominique Bauby, who becomes imprisoned in his own body after a massive stroke. He is completely paralyzed and cannot speak. In one instant, his entire life is taken from him. It moved me to see his despair, vulnerability, and lack of hope; his life which was once so full seemed empty and desolate now.
He couldn’t truly live. As someone who loves life, I was brought to tears by the consequences of his stroke. It was ironic, unexpected, unfair, and heartbreaking. Despite this, Jean-Do is able to get through it all. At a defining moment in the film, he says, “I decided to stop pitying myself. Other than my eye, two things aren’t paralyzed, my imagination and my memory. ” It was uplifting to see that this man, who seemingly has nothing, could still have hope. I was deeply inspired by his perseverance; he showed that life is really about having imagination and letting go of material concerns which limit us.
In October 2008, I experienced the most stressful week of the entire school year as the Social Services Prefect: United Way Week. As I began the daunting planning and preparation, I felt there was something lacking despite the strong annual tradition of United Way Week. As the years had progressed, students were falling into a routine and typical events were becoming stale. To address a problem that I saw in my community, I did not merely “party-plan” by resorting to the usual events. I aimed to be strategic by introducing new events. I knew that new events would draw more interest and unite the student body.
However, I also recognized that I could not plan an entire campaign alone. I brought my ideas for change to the Prefect team as well as my peers. I asked them what they would like to see, what kinds of activities they would be excited for. I then mapped out a schedule and delegated jobs. For instance, one new event this year was a competition between my school’s Prefects and our brother school’s Stewards: five from each school in one face-off. As each Prefect and Steward challenged each other one on one, five previously outlined tasks (rap, tell a joke, or dance) were announced and completed impromptu.
In implementing these new activities, I was taking a big risk. I couldn’t predict how the students would react or how much we could raise. In the end, our initiatives succeeded in creating substantial change to an established campaign, raising over $12,000 for United Way. Helping others is in my nature. I hate suffering and injustice. Most of all, I am someone of action; if there is something that needs to be done, I will do it. When I help others, I know that I am changing their lives but I also recognize that they give me something as well; I first experienced this as a volunteer at North York General Hospital.
In December 2007, a father ran in to the Emergency ward frantically asking for some help. His daughter, who had been skiing that day, injured herself by slipping on the hill. Lying in the van, she was in great pain but could not move. The father needed help in getting his daughter into waiting area. I first looked to Security but they were on patrol and the nurses were occupied helping other patients. I found myself in a difficult situation but I went outside with this father to see what I could do. I brought a wheelchair, hoping the young girl could slide from the car into the chair.
However, she was unable to sit without being in severe pain. So we decided to pull her out, supporting her entire body. Her father, brother, and I lifted her up in a horizontal position out of the car. We set her down on her feet while continually offering support with our shoulders. Her cries were distressing but there was no other way to transport her in. Finally, when we were inside, I found a line of chairs on which she could lie down. Afterwards, I told her father how to register and what would happen next. Immediately, her father thanked me for being there. At first I had felt helpless that I couldn’t do more.
I couldn’t stop his daughter’s pain. I couldn’t fast-forward the registration line. But I soon saw that the help that I could offer, the instructions and information that I had, and the humanity I showed, gave them a small comfort amidst the chaos. My experiences volunteering at the hospital showed me that suffering exists and though I may be unable to fix it, I alleviate the situation by doing what is in my power to do. In my family, loyalty is extremely important. Spending time with family is an unquestionable responsibility for all of us: we are there for each other.
Ever since I arrived in Canada as a 4-year old girl, I have been attending my grandmother’s birthday dinners each year in October. I can remember entering the traditional red and gold restaurant as a young child. Before I did anything else, my mother instructed me first to wish my grandmother a happy birthday and a lucky and long life, both of which are traditional Chinese phrases, and then kiss her once on both cheeks. As a child in elementary school, I barely understood the significance of the repetition of those phrases.
Throughout my grandmother’s celebratory dinner, I occupied myself with Nintendo Games or hand games with my cousins. At the end of each dinner came the Chinese fruitcake. I always had to have the slice with a strawberry on top. By the end of the dinner, I hardly realized that I had barely spoken to my grandmother. Reflecting back on those times, I now have a bigger comprehension of the importance of family. I see how my grandmother loved to hear those phrases I said to her and how much it meant to her. Now as a teenager entering university, I long to say so much more.
I want to update her on my school work or my friends or my dreams. I see the duty I have as a granddaughter, daughter, and sister in a family: to respect the bond that we are born with, to support my relatives because I know that I will always have my family to fall back on. Another form of expression that I value is in the music I listen to. If I have had a tough day, I put on my “Soothing Playlist”. In it is one of my favourite songs, “A Better Son/Daughter” by Rilo Kiley. The cerebral lyrics describe the difficulties that we all go through: you’ll be positive though it hurts / and you’ll laugh and embrace all your friends.
I can relate to these lyrics because sometimes the commitments I take on overwhelm me. During chaotic and stressful times, it is difficult to keep on top of everything. But I always keep at it because this is what I truly love to do. Going to dance club, singing in choir, researching in a lab: all of these things allow me to explore my interests and enjoy myself, helping me to grow as a person. It is only realistic to recognize that some days are harder than others. Nobody is perfect. This song and many others on my playlist encourage me to push through because I’ll be stronger for it.
My desire for growth always involves reaching out to others: showing loyalty to friends and family; offering my support as a volunteer at the hospital; using the unity of my school to raise money that goes to a greater cause. My great ambitions are achieved by supporting and relying on others. I value family, perseverance, morals and I am a confident, ambitious, leader with a need for a strong community. This is what I will bring to Rice’s academic life and residence; I hope to connect with my peers and mentors in order to grow and achieve my goals.