You Have Arrived at Your Destination

Name: Sydney Rooney

Year: Class of 2014

Hometown: Elm Grove, WI

Intended Program of Study: Biomedical Engineering


I would say I’m a small-town girl, but that would be a lie. If you want to get all technical, I’m a small-village girl. For my whole life, I’ve lived in the village/bird sanctuary that is Elm Grove, Wisconsin. Even though you are probably envisioning something to the tune of wooden cabins or huts, it’s really a lot more modern than it sounds. It has electricity and everything. I promise.

I must say, I happen to ADORE my hometown (homevillage?). It’s nice knowing that the only thing likely to be trespassing in the middle of the night is a turkey or two. Still, I’ve always wanted go somewhere bigger; as you can imagine, the convent, Irish-goods store, and knitting house, quaint as they are, are really hard to find enthralling after 17 years (the nuns are SUPER nice, though!). This led me on my road to Hopkins.

Sure, I did the studying, the extra-curricular activities, and everything else, but that was nothing compared to the preparation I had to do senior year.

First came the application process. All things aside, the written part was a piece of cake. Though some may believe the first nine-hundred pages of the Common Application (okay, okay, I embellish a little…) were tedious, I actually found them quite enjoyable. Yes, all the endless pages of filling in the blanks did take some time, but I couldn’t help thinking how easy it all was. I mean, I’ve spent hours and hours preparing for this application, but 99% of it was simple questions. Name? Sydney Rooney. Hometown? Elm Grove, WI. Intended Major? Biomedical Engineering. I gave myself a mental pat on the back after each question. It was like a test: a test that I spent four long years of my life preparing for, but happened to know every answer.  I thought if this was the worst of the application process, the whole thing was going to be a snap.

It wasn’t.

After the written application came the college interview. Originally, I got an e-mail telling me it was a phone interview. That made me incredibly nervous. Like “quaking-in-your-boots” nervous. Don’t get me wrong; I really enjoy talking. Being Italian, that’s all my family does at holidays: talk at inconceivably remarkable decibels. Thankfully, I can control my volume (unlike my Nonnie…), but I was still scared. What if I say something that translates wrong over the phone? Didn’t my English teacher tell me that most communication was non-verbal?

It ended up not mattering at all. She met me in person (Hallelujah!).

That brought along its oodles of nerves, too. I mean, there were the little things, like the fact that every road in my village has a speed limit of 25 mph and the freeway to get to my interview expected me to go a wee bit faster, but all these little things didn’t really matter. The interview started and all was well. We talked about everything imaginable, from all my sports injuries (6 and counting…) to the fact that Gilmore Girls is the only reason we both know the plural of cul de sac (it’s culs de sac, in case you were wondering). In actuality, the oodles of nerves belonged to my parents because, as you can imagine, it takes a great deal of time to talk about everything imaginable. Three hours, to be exact.

I got into my lime-green VW Bug after the interview and called my parents. The first words out of their mouths were “THANK GOODNESS YOU’RE ALRIGHT!”. They told me they were about to send out a search party. Oh, and that they thought my interviewer kidnapped me. Really. I laughed the whole way home trying to wrap my mind around their fear. MySpace: a good way to meet somebody who might kidnap you. A reputable school like Johns Hopkins setting up an interview: not so dangerous.

Next came the wait. Yes, that was long and excruciating, but I managed to survive. I don’t feel the need to elaborate on that part for two reasons: 1. If you’re one of my classmates, you already understand the pain and torture that ensues until you get that e-mail with the title “Congratulations!”. 2. If you’re a prospective student, I don’t want to ruin the surprise (mwahahaha!). Instead, I’d like to skip to the “Congratulations!” part. I’m much fonder of that part.

The “Congratulations!” led to the jumping up and down which led to milkshakes which led to my two friends and I jumping up and down in the parking lot of Steak ‘n’ Shake which then led to the last leg of my journey: visiting the school.

My two parents and I left on Easter morning to begin our 13 hour drive (and, oh boy, was that fun…). At 10:45 AM, we passed an almighty Cracker Barrel, the one place we always eat at on roadtrips. My dad thought it was too early for lunch, so he, against my mother’s will, decided not to stop. Little did we know, that was the last venue of nourishment for almost five hours (thanks a lot, Ohio!). So my “Easter brunch” consisted of a half of a quesadilla, slathered with grease and everything else unappealing while trapped in a Honda, and Corn Nuts. Fantastic. The ride also consisted of my mother freaking out at my father (car rides make her touchy) and my father somehow finding a way to blame us (a tactic cleverly developed by him after realizing car rides made her touchy). Finally, at midnight, our GPS proudly stated “You have arrived at your destination.” We made it!

More importantly, that was the first time I felt like I made it. It’s still hard for me to grasp onto the concept that I actually made it out of my village in Wisconsin. But at that moment, I knew I had. I laid on the bed, wondering what’s going to happen next. In a matter of four years, I was able to make it from Elm Grove, Wisconsin to Baltimore, Maryland, which are two places that are completely foreign to each other. I couldn’t stop myself from wondering what was next.

To tell you the truth, I’m not completely sure what’s next for me, and that’s OK. I know I won’t wake up and find turkeys on my street anymore. I know I won’t know everyone in my town on a first name basis like before. I know I won’t be the same person I was when I started this whole journey. The only thing I do know is that the road to Hopkins was a long one, and it will be worth it. I’ll make sure of that.

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  1. I am so proud of you Syd… Good Luck…. Your Mom and I have tossed around a visit to J.H. ! :)

  2. Wow Syd, I had no idea you were such a great writer. Good luck at school and keep me posted on how things go for you.

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