Senior High School Application
Rock Climbing as a Second Language
There I was, hanging from the precipice, muscles trembling, fingers aching, sweat dripping onto my spotter twenty feet below. He could see I was struggling, and shouted words of encouragement, but my head was pounding too loudly to make out the words. During the initial ascent, I felt strong and confident, though the intense scope of the route had begun to loosen my physical grip, as well as my grip on reality. I made it to the final hold, exhausting every drop of energy, unable to fathom lifting my arm again. The wall then became a towering mental blockade. I knew exactly where to put my hand next, yet I still didn’t feel as if I had the physical means of doing so. I screamed and shot my hand up in a final attempt to finish the climb. I was only hanging on by my fingertips and sheer determination, nevertheless I had made it to the top. My belayer celebrated and lowered me down. Weak and exhausted, I could barely unclip myself from the harness; however, mentally I had never felt stronger.
It is during these experiences that the world falls away; all that is left is the rock face itself. I become one with the wall, solely captivated by the placements of its holds and the complexity of its challenge. Time ceases to exist.
Rock climbing is a second language to me. I grew up scaling the tallest trees I could find, desiring the highest vantage point. Growing up in the uniformly flat state of Florida, I was limited in my upward journey. Luckily, I rekindled my love for climbing in high school, and now cannot imagine life without it. My passion for climbing is fueled by the adrenaline that pumps through my veins.
At first, I was an impatient climber who would try and solve the wall before me, making split-second decisions. However, this strategy rapidly tired me out after beginning to climb. Clearly, this method wasn’t going to get the job done; I had to change my mindset. Now, when I approach a wall, I first draw the problem out in my mind, using my hands to examine the holds. Like a game of chess, I lay out an intricate plan of attack. If I am completely perplexed by a wall, I converse with other pro climbers to guide me towards the best route. Every time I interact with climbers better than myself, I learn a new technique and create new bonds. Being part of the rock climbing community has helped me develop my social skills.
The best things about climbing is that there is no clear-cut way to climb a wall, and that there is always a new challenge. My climbing partners say that I take the most unorthodox routes when climbing, but ironically they’re the most natural and comfortable paths for me. I get lost in the walls and climb for hours, as time becomes irrelevant. I think of nothing else but reaching the last hold and forget all of my worries. Even when my friends beg to go home from fatigue, I insist on attempting another route. I don’t feel I’ve had a sufficient climbing session until my forearms are pulsing and the skin on my fingertips are raw.
Patience, collaboration, and determination are all needed when climbing a wall, like in any field of research. I no longer say I can’t do something, instead approaching challenges with the utmost confidence. If one plan falls short, I reassess and approach the wall from another angle. I am comfortable making decisions, even when I don’t know what the outcome may be. Through this life-changing sport I have strengthened not only my body but also my mind, learning the beauty of problem solving.
Admissions Committee Comments
Time to Spin the Wheel
For as long as I can remember, one of my favorite pastimes has been manipulating those tricky permutations of 26 letters to fill in that signature, bright green gridded board of Wheel of Fortune.
Every evening at precisely 6:30 p.m., my family and I unfailingly gather in our living room in anticipation of Pat Sajak’s cheerful announcement: “It’s time to spin the wheel!” And the game is afoot, our banter punctuated by the potential of either big rewards or even bigger bankruptcies: “She has to know that word—my goodness, why is she buying a vowel?!”
While a game like Wheel of Fortune is full of financial pitfalls, I wasn’t ever much interested in the money or new cars to be won. I found myself drawn to the letters and playful application of the English alphabet, the intricate units of language.
For instance, phrases like “I love you,” whose incredible emotion is quantized to a mere set of eight letters, never cease to amaze me. Whether it’s the definitive pang of a simple “I am” or an existential crisis posed by “Am I”, I recognized at a young age how letters and their order impact language.
Spelling bees were always my forte. I’ve always been able to visualize words and then verbally string individual consonants and vowels together. I may not have known the meaning of every word I spelled, I knew that soliloquy always pushed my buttons: that -quy ending was so bizarre yet memorable! And intaglio with its silent “g” just rolled off the tongue like cultured butter.
Eventually, letters assembled into greater and more complex words.
I was an avid reader early on, devouring book after book. From the Magic Treehouse series to the too real 1984, the distressing The Bell Jar, and Tagore’s quaint short stories, I accumulated an ocean of new words, some real (epitome, effervescence, apricity), and others fully fictitious (doubleplusgood), and collected all my favorites in a little journal, my Panoply of Words.
Add the fact that I was raised in a Bengali household and studied Spanish in high school for four years, and I was able to add other exotic words. Sinfin, zanahoria, katukutu, and churanto soon took their rightful places alongside my English favorites.
And yet, during this time of vocabulary enrichment, I never thought that Honors English and Biology had much in common. Imagine my surprise one night as a freshman as I was nonchalantly flipping through a science textbook. I came upon fascinating new terms: adiabatic, axiom, cotyledon, phalanges…and I couldn’t help but wonder why these non-literary, seemingly random words were drawing me in. These words had sharp syllables, were challenging to enunciate, and didn’t possess any particularly abstract meaning.
I was flummoxed, but curious…I kept reading.
“Air in engine quickly compressing…”
“Incontestable mathematical truth…”
“Fledgling leaf in an angiosperm…”
“Ossified bones of fingers and toes…
…and then it hit me. For all my interest in STEM classes, I never fully embraced the beauty of technical language, that words have the power to simultaneously communicate infinite ideas and sensations AND intricate relationships and complex processes.
Perhaps that’s why my love of words has led me to a calling in science, an opportunity to better understand the parts that allow the world to function. At day’s end, it’s language that is perhaps the most important tool in scientific education, enabling us all to communicate new findings in a comprehensible manner, whether it be focused on minute atoms or vast galaxies.
It’s equal parts humbling and enthralling to think that I, Romila, might still have something to add to that scientific glossary, a little permutation of my own that may transcend some aspect of human understanding. Who knows, but I’m definitely game to give the wheel a spin, Pat, and see where it takes me…
Admissions Committee Comments
麻省理工学院 耶鲁大学 杜克大学 哥伦比亚大学 圣路易斯华盛顿大学
哥伦比亚大学 宾夕法尼亚大学 约翰霍普金斯大学 密歇根大学 波士顿大学
哥伦比亚大学 杜克大学 康奈尔大学 帝国理工学院 南洋理工大学
UCL KCL 谢菲尔德大学 曼彻斯特大学 布里斯托大学 格拉斯哥大学
埃默里大学 弗吉尼亚大学 罗彻斯特大学 加州大学尔湾分校
宾夕法尼亚大学 弗吉尼亚理工大学 康涅狄格大学 加州大学圣地亚哥分校
约翰·霍普金斯大学 康奈尔大学 马里兰大学帕克分校 密歇根大学
杜克大学 范德堡大学 圣路易斯华盛顿大学 莱斯大学
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