EARLY DECISION, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

This young woman had moved around a fair amount as a child, having been born to a very young single mother to whom she was very close but with whom she spent only some years of her childhood. For a time, she lived in a different state with her father. She had fallen in love with horseback riding, but had struggled to keep it up as she moved. Finally she had chosen to attend a boarding school with a strong equestrian program. Though this was a large part of her life, she was not looking to continue riding competitively in college.

With an interest in history and French, and a possible future in international business or diplomacy, this student fell in love with Johns Hopkins on her college tour. Her academic interests were evinced elsewhere in the application; it was most important to her to use the personal statement to explain the forces that she felt shaped her growing up, and led her to choose to attend boarding school far from either of her parents.

My life began in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was a vivacious little girl who was set on wearing miss-matched socks with sandals. I lived with my mom, a single mother in law school. This experience was unique among my friends at Montessori school. Our home eventually moved to downtown Chicago, which I loved. I agreed to wear dresses as long as my mom would let me try on her four-sizes-too-large shoes. Here, my passion for riding began and blossomed. My mom’s three siblings lived nearby, and I often found myself trying to beat them at Guitar Hero or planning an escape to a deserted island to see which of us could survive. Looking back, I realize that my imagination was working to serve my developing independence. I saw and admired this strength in all of my family members—especially my mother.

Then, when I was six, I moved to a town in Ohio to live with my father. My shifting family dynamic, schools, and surroundings proved to be a major adjustment for me. With my dad working, I found myself trying to play games with my grandparents when school was over. This often resulted in their requesting that I run around the block. Much to their appreciation, I took up soccer and snowboarding, which helped me to make friends and feel happier about where I was. I would sometimes occupy my time by setting up obstacles in the house out of hampers and bins so I could jump over them like a horse. Occasionally I would even give performances of Mary J. Blige’s “I’m Going Down.”

When I was eleven, my mother and stepdad moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I didn’t understand what my city-oriented mother was doing out in what I thought was cowboy land—I even Googled ‘Rackson Role’ because of a simple miscommunication on the telephone. This was one of my most difficult transitions because it was very unfamiliar. More importantly, I needed to become used to being with my mother again, and I was trying to fit in at school even though I knew I’d leave the next year for boarding school. I spent my eighth grade in Jackson and grew to love it. My family base had shrunk and now consisted of my mom, my stepdad and myself. Our games now consisted of overly competitive Monopoly nights.

At the age of fourteen, I took a brave step and went to boarding school in Connecticut. This was an idea of my own that developed when I was living in Ohio; it first came from a place of awe and dream, and then developed into a determination. I followed this idea through because I am motivated and care deeply about my education. Also, moving around as much as I did when I was younger inspired me to create my own path and solid day-to-day life. I realized that going to Ethel Walker could do just that. As another movement in my life, this wasn’t only a change in schools, but also in the person I would become. I dove into the opportunity and ended up making the best friends I could ask for. We still go to the park, play tag, or go sledding on snow days. Although Simsbury is quite the juxtaposition to the mountains of Wyoming, both places have become the perfect balance for my life.

I consider myself lucky to have experienced all theses phases of my life, for they have uniquely developed my character. Having moved plenty, I am more open-minded, especially to new situations or experiences. I like to see myself as a positive, adaptable young woman who not only seeks the best but also makes the best of what I have.