Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
June 16, 2000 — My sense of uncertainty had never been so overwhelming, my emotions never so mixed. Born seven weeks early on what I now view as a blessed day, my youngest brother, initially referred to as “Baby Malone,” hung on for dear life. He was being treated in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and he had countless IVs, tubes, and machines attached to him in his incubator — which I thought of as a jail cell, isolating him from his surroundings. Walking into Reston Hospital, I was taken aback by the sterile environment, squeaky-clean floors, and medical staff roaming the stark halls. I felt as if my heart had shattered when told that “Baby Malone” would remain in the NICU indefinitely. Because of his fragile state, the doctors and nurses went to great lengths in order to ensure his well-being. I watched the liquid travel through the tube as he was fed intravenously, the fuzzy lines and numbers on the machines constantly changing, the oxygen mask on his delicate little nose that allowed him to breathe, and the continual motion of his tummy going up and down. I felt helpless. I was an outsider looking in on his life, unable to remove the barrier dividing us. Although at the time I did not understand the reasoning for the limited access I had to my new sibling, today I fully appreciate all the medical staff did to protect his health. As if he were a missing puzzle piece, my family was not complete without my baby brother. July 15, 2000 — With a swift change of emotions, I became the happiest girl in the world. The opportunity that I had been longing for had finally arrived: I welcomed “Baby Malone,” newly named Jason Carter Malone, into our secure and loving home on Winter Haven Place. I will forever remember the first time I held him, sitting on the couch cradling him in my arms as he peacefully slept. Although I had not been prepared for the emotional roller coaster, as I reflect back on the experience, I realize how it made me grow as a person. At age eight, I felt powerless and unsure of God’s reasoning for placing that obstacle into my life. Now, however, I appreciate my brother and his existence much more than I ever would have because of my realization that life can drastically change without warning. No challenge is too big to overcome. That was the lesson I took from Jason’s birth. It has been valuable in facing obstacles in my own life as well. For example, four years ago, my soccer career was threatened. I faced both a misdiagnosis of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and a botched surgery. Because I have faced numerous injuries over time, I have spent a significant amount of time as a spectator on the sidelines. After fractures, multiple casts, several walking boots, two ankle surgeries, months of rehabilitation, and never-ending trips to the doctor, I am thankfully still able to make use of my God-given talent. The exhilaration and emotional outlet I routinely experience through both training hard in practice and competing to the best of my ability in games is not an opportunity I will always have. That awareness motivates me to savor every moment on the field. Giving one hundred percent of myself and walking off of the field with no regrets is my responsibility in order to challenge not only myself, but also my teammates.One instance in which I overcame adversity happened in a college showcase tournament last December. After arriving in Florida, I could not suppress my excitement. I had been counting down the days until my team would board the plane to the Sunshine State, and I mistakenly believed that nothing could go wrong in this perfect place. The warm and sunny weather was ideal for playing soccer and contrasted starkly with the mounds of snow, blustery winds, and overcast skies back home. Just hours after landing, however, I found myself distraught, sitting on an emergency room table waiting for X-ray results. Nothing could console me. All I hoped was that I could resume playing in time for our first game. I could not fathom letting my team down like this after injuring myself in a light practice the day before the tournament began. Even though my ankle was not broken, I slowly began to realize after having multiple long tear-filled conversations with my parents on the phone, receiving overwhelming support from my teammates, and getting only a chuckle from the doctor when I asked if I could play the next day that this devastating event, yet again, must have happened for a reason. Rather than dwelling on it, I moved on and enjoyed my time in Florida, where I watched my team compete and win the championship. The time I have missed due to injury has taught me to cherish every moment I get to play with my teammates. Many of my life experiences — highlighted by my newborn brother’s struggle to survive and my oft-interrupted soccer career — have made me aware that favorable outcomes can and do arise in spite of obstacles. I have learned that with both determination and perseverance, adversity can be conquered.