By the Lake

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.

There’s a beach at the end of my street, squished between two houses with boulders for seats and dirty sand that gets stuck in between your toes. I find myself drawn here often; there is something different about the space and how the days unspool in a rhythmic sort of way that allows you to think clearly. As a young girl, I would ride my bike to this place with my hair flowing against the muted indigo sky.

To the human eye, Lake Ontario might as well be an ocean. The great lake stretches all the way to the horizon, with a faded line drawing out where the air and water meet. Here, the Great Lakes form a third coast for the Midwest, saltless and sharkless, with a personality of being slow-paced and complacent.

The horizon line is the most important part of the lake to me. I remember, as a kid, wondering what would happen if you sailed out to that point, where the world ends. I knew the world is round and that there was really no end, it just seemed that way. I would sit in my shared kayak or on a boulder simply observing. My small arms would attempt to paddle out to the line, to somehow reach it and find the edge of the earth but I was always held back by disbelief. Truthfully, it was equal parts fear of being lost at sea and my father, who would never let me paddle too far. Home was opposite of the horizon line, and I always paddled back defeatedly to the houses that lined the lake.

As I grew older, my childhood inclinations seemed to follow me. Driving along the lake, seeking the horizon line behind the trees offered a change of heart. Somedays, when it was particularly cloudy, the air and water turned to one and the edge no longer existed. I found myself stopping at the beach, after work or once I finally finished an assignment. I was no longer a quiet girl, praised by teachers and parents for her listening skills. Like the horizon, I was edgeless. Bold and unafraid, but all the while still being polite and caring. A new air of confidence had fallen over me. I was a black belt at 15, a passionate debater in my school’s Model UN Chapter, a tennis player with an obnoxious grunt, a long distance runner on the track team who was found more success in motivating her teammates than in actual running. The horizon offered me comfort in my ability to righteously accomplish and the potential for failure. You can chase the horizon forever and never actually get to it, but that never stopped me from trying. There was a comfort in the unknown, it was new and exciting and a challenge. Adrenaline pushed my childhood curiosity and fears, which had transformed into the pursuit of answers. I took advantage of new opportunities that allowed me to expand my knowledge and grow as a learner and leader. A research opportunity came to me from the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, and I found myself in a new world where I was able to create my own questions and seek their answers. My research was focused on decision theory that explored an expansion of mathematics and the potential for real-world application of my learning in hospitals. My research knew no bounds, and I became my own teacher.

Thanks to the horizon line at the beach on my street, life became a little more edgeless. No longer complacent, no longer content with just observing. There’s more to the world that lays before us, and the same thing can be said about ourselves. We are constantly in a cycle of reaching the horizon and discovering more beyond it. So we must sail on, unafraid of what we will find at the edge of the world.

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