Sample Essay: Harvard Medical Essay 3

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Childhood/Family Experiences; Religious Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Unpleasant Medical Experience; Interest in Alternative Approaches; Well-rounded Academic Background; Exercise-Science Major; Financially Self-supported

"One time, a family cat captured... a moth. The cat's play disturbed E., who promptly got a local veterinarian on the phone to get tips on reviving the mortally wounded moth. The moth didn't make it, but knowing E.'s enthusiasm, Mrs. E. is more optimistic about the park." (The Idaho Statesman, 11/22/78)

This article, about me as a ten-year-old boy trying to turn a nearby drainage pond into a park, had a misprint-it was a mouse, not a moth. Still, this example shows why people have always said I would probably be a doctor or veterinarian. Wandering the fields, I brought home sick and hurt creatures; if anyone found an injured bird or animal, they brought it to me for care.

We didn't exactly live on a farm, but were in farming country. My father always made sure that we had a large garden; that, along with a small vineyard, orchard and corn field, provided work for us six kids and a little extra family income. My parent's couldn't give us allowances and we had to help pay for our own clothes, so we worked on local farms (bucking hay bales, moving sprinkler pipes, etc.) and did whatever we could find-I started an early morning daily paper route (on my bike, in all weather) at age eleven, and had it for five years.

During this period, we did manage to find time for other things. Besides earning the rank of Eagle Scout, I sang in school choirs, performed in state piano boards, acted in school and community theater, ran (and earned a letter) in cross-country and track (until forced by my Junior year to choose between school sports and earning money), and served as a student body representative in my high school.

After two semesters at Boise State, I volunteered to serve for two years as a missionary with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, going to the California, Ventura Mission. I loved it, learned a lot, being able to dedicate every hour to helping and teaching people of all nationalities, cultures and religions. Many of the friends I made among the people and the other missionaries are still very close, and the lessons I learned from all of my experiences affect my life every day.

Returning to school, my classes included math and sciences (subjects I had shied away from before)-out of curiosity, at first; then, to keep my options open. I actually enjoyed them, and managed to get good grades. My love for the humanities continued, including writing guest editorials and articles for the Fullerton College school paper, and I was awarded the annual Book Award for Excellence in Foreign Language from the Spanish department. My activities were rounded out by helping at a nearby adolescent rehabilitation clinic, and serving the single members of my church as the activities committee chairman and representative to the regional council.

In high school, I had had some health problems and seen a number of doctors. When a general practitioner didn't find anything, he sent me to a specialist, who sent me to another, who sent me to another... none of whom could find a problem, yet all of whom charged my parents what seemed exorbitant fees.

This experience soured me on the medical profession. My interests in people continued to grow, but because of my cynicism toward physicians and lack of money, medical school wasn't seriously considered. Besides, math and sciences didn't appeal to me at that time like music, drama, philosophy and writing did.

I pursued psychology and the humanities, while growing more fascinated by health, nutrition, and what people I knew had found in "alternative" approaches to health, including preventive and Eastern medicine. Although a natural skeptic, it seemed to me that if something appears to work for rational, respectable people, it should be taken seriously-researched, to determine whether the benefit is merely psychological or not-contrary to the doctors I had met, who felt that if THEY didn't have it, it was "dangerous". This seemed narrow-minded, opposing the principles I understood "science" to be based upon.

Upon transferring to USC, I found that my view of the medical establishment wasn't really accurate-there ARE those who care more about helping people than about the money or their intellectual pride. As a result, I've decided to enter medical school, focusing on research and preventive medicine. My major in Exercise Science is providing a strong background in physiology and nutrition.

Throughout my college career, I have had to support myself financially. Working full-time while at Boise State as a restaurant manager, and then doing singing telegrams, fitness consulting, and running my own window-cleaning business since moving to California have allowed me to get by. Now, my work-study research job at the LA County General Hospital/USC Health Sciences Campus is also providing excellent experience in working in both hospital and research settings. My church responsibilities continually mean opportunities for volunteer service, and as Vice-President of the USC chapter of S. fraternity, one of my projects has been setting up and directing our relationship with Challengers, a local inner-city youth club with which our fraternity is now involved in activities and tutoring.

Note: This essay appears unedited for instructional purposes. Essays edited by EssayEdge are substantially improved.