Night skiThe author wrote the lyrical first and last paragraphs of her essay in no time at all; she didn’t change a word. It took months of exploration and writing to craft everything that comes between. The best college essays are unique in how they talk about everyday experiences.  


When I was younger, I flew. I stretched out my feather-light wings against the wisps of crisp, October air, and soared up, up, up; above the buildings, over the mountains, amidst the clouds and into the galaxy. It was beautiful in every single imaginable way. It was liberating because I was above it all: the water and ozone, the tiny, rocky and breakable pieces. There was absolutely nothing but the strange subliminal drifting of stars inside my lungs. Then I would open my eyes and was always surprised to be greeted by the dry yellow and brown Australian landscape. The stars were gone, and I was brought back each time into my seven year old body, arms extended, and standing on the peak of a grassy mound. I guess I’ve always wanted to be something larger than myself. I’ve always wanted to feel larger than life.

Years have passed since I was that little girl who threw open the screen door on windy days, sprinting outside to the field behind her house. I grew older imagining myself in an office setting, clad in a newly ironed Brooks’ Brother’s oxford button up shirt tucked into a black pleated skirt. Having family members rooted in the financial world, I was engineered to believe that corporate life was the adult life. A flawless, carefully sketched path had been laid out for me to follow, but for the longest time I couldn’t figure out why my footsteps kept slipping outside the lines.

I still remember my first step inside a hospital for a volunteer interview and suddenly it was like all the pieces fit together. After letting go of business classes because of the lack of passion, I was exploring new opportunities. I remember drinking in my surroundings and thinking that it would be okay if I were to stay here for a long, long time. Because for the first time in what had been a while, I felt like I was home.

“Hey, can you go transport umbilical cord blood from 7-South to Main Lab?”

“We’ve got a guy with a 150 pound tumor in room 4320.”

“CODE BLUE – Surgery Pavilion!”

There’s never a dull moment in the on-call dispatch room. I find myself sprinting once again, not across the grassy Australian fields, but the white marble steps of the University of Washington Medical Center. Empty wheelchair gliding in front, I am unstoppable. The service elevator lifts up, taking me to see the joy of a finally homebound oncology patient’s face and to the “preemies” in the NICU whose monitors beep steadily, reassuringly. It takes me to the hallways outside Operating Rooms where lack of sound is enveloped by deafening importance. The ceiling lights seem to be sublime and twinkling.

Amidst it all, Carol, a suicidal schizophrenic woman, hands me a beautiful handmade bracelet after I had sat with her and listened to her tear-filled, frantic tales.

“Thank y-y-you so much” she splutters. “You’ve been k-kinder to me than anybody h-has this entire year and it means so so m-much to m-me”.

In moments like these, the world stops for a little bit. I’m reminded of how fragile life is. I’m reminded of why I am human, of why I am here.

Like Neil deGrasse Tyson said, some people look at the sky, at the stars and feel small: because we are such a miniscule portion of the bigger picture. But he looks at the stars and feels big: because the universe is in us, our atoms came from those stars. Living life as a sixteen year old girl in a suburban town, attending a public high school, I used to feel small and irrelevant. But then I walked across the halls of a hospital, I talked to people and patients with endless stories of their own and I feel big. I feel inspired. I feel infinite.