From ATP Synthase to Z

Posted by | Posted on November 4, 2010

Hopkins Interactive is currently posting a series of common blogs on the theme of advice on the college search and application process.  I hope you enjoy my story of how I ended up at Hopkins, but be sure to check out all of the other blogs for more advice.

It’s funny to think that it was only two years ago, on a gloomy day like today that I dropped a padded envelope into the mailbox at a post office in Savage, Minnesota.  Inside, was my supplement to my Johns Hopkins application.  At that point everything was out of my hands.  In two months, which seemed like eternity, I would know if I would be accepted as an ED applicant.

Obviously, I made it.

I didn’t have a typical high school experience, but I did do a lot of ordinary things.  I actually attended Hopkins High School in Minnesota, where my class was about 750 students.  I played in the school marching band, participated in several jazz ensembles both local and state wide, and competed in quiz bowl competitions.

Band practice. Sometimes you can't help but crack up.

At the end of my junior year I had pretty much exhausted my high schools AP curriculum (save the government classes), so I applied to University of Minnesota Twin Cities as a full time student, where I would fulfill high school requirements with college credits.  In early October of my senior year, I was granted official acceptance into the school of engineering at Minnesota if I chose to return as an official undergraduate the following year.

I can’t over-emphasize the impact of my experience at the University of Minnesota on my choice when applying to colleges.  While I enjoyed my time at Minnesota, I realized the school was just too large.  I think there are a lot of benefits to a smaller school.  On the other hand, I realized I like the idea of a school being heavily research oriented, like Minnesota.  These two realizations basically cut out all large state schools and all small liberal arts college, which brought me look into smaller, top-notch research schools like JHU.

The marching band uniform was a blue hawaiian shirt, that was not my decision. I really have no idea what's going on in this picture...

I spent my entire life in the Midwest.  My dad is a small business owner, and my mom is a former high school art teacher, so I never got many opportunities to travel when I was younger, and by the time I was a high school senior I was ready to leave Minnesota.

Before my senior year, I had a compiled at list of about fifteen schools that I thought were good contenders.  In the end I applied formally to two schools beside Minnesota. Going into my senior year, I thought I would mark my potential major as chemistry, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, or physics.  Then during my first semester as a senior I took a biology course, which I now realize was basically “baby biochemistry”, and I fell in love with the subject.  Once I knew that Hopkins had a program in Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, I was completely sold on the school and decided I would apply early decision to the ChemBE program.  So, no, I did not apply as a BME.

I was far from the perfect high school student. I also wasn’t super concerned with getting into an “elite” school, in fact I hate people that get caught up with rankings and fancy names. So high school seniors see applying to schools as some sort of competition to get into the “most competitive” school possible.  In my opinion, the most important thing when looking into schools is to be honest to yourself and be yourself.  Don’t convince yourself into being someone you’re not, and don’t try to convince others you’re someone you’re not.  Ultimately, when I wrote my application, I wanted to show I love learning and I want to learn, and I saw JHU as the perfect for me to pursue that.  I still stand by that philosophy now, and I think if I didn’t posses that insatiable desire and passion for what I study, I would have dropped out of ChemBE two semesters ago.  I realize I am not majoring in chemical engineering for the money, and I don’t have a clear goal set in mind, like the individuals who want to go onto medical school.  However, there must be something there driving me to stick with it.    That driving force was the same one that led me to apply to Hopkins in the first place, and I hope it carries me through graduate school.

Not sure who took this picture, but it's another night in the library, also known as the M-lvl party. Apparently I was not being product, but clearly Greco (to the left) was.

A friend asked me a couple days ago what I wanted out of my Hopkins Education if I didn’t go onto work in industry or medical school.  Honestly, all I hope is to walk out less naïve than I walked in.

Oh biochemistry!

Right now, I am sitting in MSE library studying for my biochemistry midterm next week.  Among the immense amount of material that we are learning, one subject covered is ATP synthesis.  I remember sitting in biology my senior year watching a short little video of ATP Synthase, and I remember thinking that is like the most incredibly awesome thing ever.  That little video pushed me into pursuing protein engineering and applying to Hopkins, and, sure enough, this year online in our biochemistry notes is that same video.  Obviously, this time around I am learning the process in much more detail.  I always find it funny how things truly have a way of coming full circle.

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