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.

Anyone can find beauty in ordinary things: the ivory snow falling outside a foggy window on a January morning, the rainbow that appears after a thunderstorm, or the almost formulaic pink and orange hues of a sunset over the horizon. But these things come and go; seasons change, rain clouds disappear, and night eventually comes.

Growing up, I was all too familiar with the concept of change. As a child, I moved from Budapest to Pennsylvania—when I did, everything that had felt permanent and fundamental to my daily existence was suddenly transformed. I could not speak English, and the unfamiliar clamor of sounds around me left me struggling to communicate. I was forced to alter my name, remove the accents, and abandon the true pronunciation: suddenly, I was no longer Kovács Réka but Reka Kovacs, a girl I did not know or recognize.

Surrounded by the unfamiliar, I had no option but to seek comfort in steady things, things I could depend on. I sat at my desk at school, attempting to grasp fragments of my teacher’s words. Most were undecipherable. There was one hour per day, however, when I was not confused in the least. Consumed by scribbled equations on graph paper and mazes of digits that were perfectly intertwined, this hour was a breath of fresh air from the chaos of words that swirled around me. With mathematics, I was not required to know English in order to understand. The numbers made up the alphabet, and the equations were the sentences. While my peers found beauty in words that danced between the lines on their papers, I was enamored by the numbers that fit together seamlessly, a puzzle for me to construct. In the patterns and formulas I could manipulate, in the precision of their answers, I saw grace and elegance. I was captivated by this process of creation, by the permanent and beautiful truths the numbers showed me. As I was developing a love for numbers and logic, I discovered a passion for another type of wordless creation: painting. With math, I pared down a confusing world into its unchanging fundamentals. Paintbrush in hand, I brought it back to color and life, capturing a heartbeat of beauty on canvas to make it last.

Art allowed me to take my unique perspective on the foreign world around me and make it concrete. Over time, my canvas became my sanctuary, a place in which I could not only find myself, but express myself freely. Life is full of ephemeral things: snow showers, rainbows, sunsets. Their appreciation is just as temporary; we notice the sunset and we believe it is gorgeous, even if it vanishes minutes later, soon to be forgotten. As an immigrant, struggling to communicate with the world around me, I learned early on just how much of life can be impermanent. Perhaps it is because of this that I tend to delve deeper in my attempts to understand the world, looking beyond short-lived aesthetic pleasure. I find purpose in the process of creation, in logic and art that endures. I turn to details such as the unique geometry of each falling snowflake, the refraction of each sunray creating patterns of color, and the scattering of light rays that form tie-dyed skies

A flower’s seeds, a pine cone, a snail shell, and a tree’s branches—ordinary aspects of the life around us—surprisingly, hold something in common: a logarithmic pattern, known as the Fibonacci Series. It is knowledge such as this that makes me convinced I want to continue studying math in college. Mathematics, after all, is the underlying abstraction behind everything—hidden but ready to be discovered; and through painting, I give permanence to what I see, adding pieces of Kovács Réka into the beautiful logic of the world.

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