Cosmos, Japan, and Lennon

How have you prepared academically for the University? If admitted what can you contribute to the University? Lastly, an open-ended question.

Academic PreparationLast summer, I attended the COSMOS program at UC Santa Cruz to learn about Stars, Sight, and Science. Pulling up into the driveway of College Nine, my heart began to beat rapidly and I quickly realized that it was time for me to live independently away from my family. Though I was nervous and scared, I knew that there was no better place to express my interests in math and science than at COSMOS. I had the opportunity to learn about astronomy by hands-on observation using the Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory, to study the mechanics of sight through the dissection of a cow’s eye, and most importantly, to apply the methods of science through our final project on variable stars. Although I do not wish to pursue a career in astronomy, this summer at COSMOS increased my eagerness to attend a university to study Mechanical Engineering. Not only did COSMOS teach me about specific types of stars, it provided a foundation of study skills for college through independent research and the application of the scientific method with the completion of the final project. Because I had this great experience at UCSC, I was able to build on the creative, intellectual skills that are essential for success in a major university. As a result, COSMOS has made me more prepared to attend college.Out of all the meaningful experiences that I had at COSMOS, the final presentation on Variable Stars affected me the most. The final project was different from any other high school science experiment because it required a higher level of intellectual thinking. For our project, we were only given images of a unique star system oscillating in brightness, and it was our task to determine the cause of this phenomenon. Using scientific principles, we hypothesized that there must have been something blocking from the star. Next, we conducted a series of controlled experiments that simulated the star system, which produced several images. Through trial and error, we determined that our star system actually turned out to be two stars rotating around each other. We then used a computer modeling program to determine the exact characteristics of our star system. Our final task was to present our findings to our peers. The research done by observing and collecting the data from the telescope, conducting and repeating experiments, and preparing the final presentation was a preview of some of the work that I will be undertaking in the future. By working with other students and advisers, I learned to interact with others with diverse backgrounds. Being able to present our findings in front of my peers gave me the chance to improve my confidence in public speaking. The final project was much more than a mandatory astronomy assignment; it was a head start in college preparation.At COSMOS, I was exposed to many opportunities that I could not have experienced here in my hometown. My parents were not present to help guide me in my everyday decisions. I realized college requires independent thinking and perseverance. Living with many other people of different backgrounds, races, and cultures increased my awareness of the similarities and differences of the perspectives of others. Learning about vision under Professor Gene Switkes, gave me a feel of what a university science course is like. In the end, I felt that I had gained a sense of confidence and independence that I can use to tackle the future. If I brought home this much in four weeks, then I can not imagine how much I can take with me in the four years!Potential to ContributeAlthough I take pride in my Filipino background, the Japanese language turned out to be one of my greatest passions. The moment I listened to my first Hikaru Utada music CD, I was hooked. Studying Japanese in the classroom was wonderful and traveling to Japan with the Salinas-Kushikino Sister City Foundation, touring the tall skyscrapers of Tokyo, standing in the beautiful temples of Kyoto, and seeing the Hiroshima Peace Dome allowed me to expand my understanding of Japanese culture. However, it was not until my home stay with the Kinoshita family in Kushikino that I was finally able to experience the true Japan. Completely immersed in Japanese culture, I had to alter my perspective to understand theirs fully. I realized that their tempura, yokushitsu, and chado were different from my usual lumpia, bathroom, and family dinner. The host family not only increased my fluency in Japanese, but they gave me a boost in curiosity and appreciation for Japan by assimilating me into their family. On my departure, I knew that my passion for studying Japanese would never fade away. Now I hope to share my passion for the Japanese culture with my fellow classmates as the new Japanese Club President.Open-ended questionGrowing up with an older brother whose focus was not academics, I was left to fend for myself. High school was all about discovering the opportunities that he missed out on. Seeing his failure not only stressed the importance of academics, it increased my drive to succeed. This year my cousin Lennon moved from Hawaii to live with us and attend high school here as a freshman. He wasn’t very strong academically, but I knew I could help steer him towards a better future. By enrolling him in community college classes and explaining the benefits of summer programs, I made sure that Lennon was aware every available opportunity. As I began to tutor him, our study nights together became a habit. Not only has he made an improvement in school, but I also saw a great change in myself. I was better role model who could actually provide a good foundation for Lennon. With him around, I conducted myself with a greater sense for maturity so I do not negatively influence him. Guiding Lennon in his first year taught me patience as well as discipline. When I go off to university, I look forward to continuing to develop such mentoring skills.

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