Fire in my Heart

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Santa didn’t always come down my chimney on December 25.

I worried when my mom said my dad had to work on Christmas day, but she had a simple solution in mind. She made a phone call to the North Pole, and Santa kindly agreed to bring our presents one day early. He decided to give us special treatment because our dad was a fireman, and firemen had once saved Santa’s house when the elves caught some cookies on fire.

As my childhood belief in Santa Claus faded and I realized that my dad was Santa, I understood things in a different way. My dad was not the reason Santa came early—he was the reason Santa came at all.

Sometimes, I didn’t understand why my dad couldn’t come to all the fun events at my school, or why he couldn’t drive me to my friend’s birthday party, or why my mom had to check his schedule every time I wanted to have a sleepover. Sometimes I got mad at my dad for his absence. I even wondered whether he loved me or not. The question, “Where’s your dad?” sparked hatred in me, and I hated having to say, “he’s at work” even more. When I realized that his sacrifices were the hands that put cookies on our kitchen table and presents under our Christmas tree, those words never made me feel shameful again. To this day, they make me proud.

I get upset when I hear of people stuck in careers that they aren’t passionate about – careers that make them feel insignificant. I’m fully convinced that I feel this way because I’ve seen the other side. I have never doubted that my dad works with purpose. What he does in one minute of his work day can change someone’s life. From my childhood, I knew this was true—everyone said it—but I didn’t understand what it meant. After an epiphany, I stopped thinking that he went to work because he didn’t want to be with me and knew that he went to work because he loved me.

And that love has inspired me to be just like him.

Whenever I tell people I want to be a doctor, they usually respond with incredulous laughter or try to convince me that I can’t handle the pressure. What they don’t know is that I’ve already experienced that pressure vicariously through my dad. Throughout my life, I have not only watched and imitated a concrete example of diligence, but I have also seen its abundant harvest. Maybe medical school will bring fiery tasks, but why should I settle for a career that doesn’t set my heart on fire?

Someday, I want to run into an operating room with the same confidence my dad has as he runs into a burning building. I want to pursue a career that gives me opportunities to change lives. I want to be the reason Santa comes, even if it means he has to come a day early.

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