All-State Academic: Central Region
ACT Score: 34
Major: Biomedical genius
What are your life goals? The scientific world has always been a huge area of interest for me. In 2019, I started scuba diving training, becoming a certified open water diver, and I hope to continue scuba diving throughout my life. I would love to train for even more certifications like night diving and dry suit diving in the future. I currently want to specialize in biomedical engineering, although I don’t know where. I would love to pursue a career in medical research and have often considered becoming a doctor myself. I want to help as many people as possible, whether I’m working with them directly as a doctor or indirectly doing behind-the-scenes research. My ultimate career goal is simply to be satisfied with my job and to enjoy working in my field.
What challenges have shaped you and how? My Christmas present in 2017 was two rods, twenty-five screws, a hook, and fourteen vertebrae fused into my back. My scoliosis had actually been cured, but at fourteen I was incredibly angry with the situation. I couldn’t sit upright for more than ten minutes at a time and had already missed several weeks of school. After weeks of pouting, I realized that no matter how bad the situation was, I had to work with my circumstances, not against them. I started pushing myself to do anything to speed up the recovery process. During my six-month check-up after the operation, the doctor told me that my spine was as straight as an arrow. It’s amazing how just a change of perspective has completely changed the course of my life. I learned to turn a negative situation into an area for growth and realized that while I may not always be in control of what happens to me, I can still make the most of every situation. Moreover, having perfect posture is not such a bad consequence.
Des Moines East
ACT Score: 27
Class Rank: 2 of 502
University: Grinnell College
Major: Biology and chemistry
What are your life goals? I carefully made a plan for my life after high school. Since I have a strong interest in medicine and helping others, becoming a pharmacist is the ideal career path. I’m going to Grinnell College, a very prestigious university in the Midwest, to get my degrees in chemistry and biology. After I graduate, I plan to get my PhD. in pharmacy at the University of Iowa. My goal with this career is to volunteer for a global non-profit organization and travel around the world to help those in need through medicine. There are people in third world countries dying of treatable diseases, and I will know how to cure them. I am dedicated to making a positive impact on this world and changing people’s lives.
What challenges have shaped you and how? Living in a cramped mobile home was one of the first memories I had after my parents divorced. Having ten people in a space for four was hard to wait. Since my family immigrated to this country with no resources, they were arguing over money. Despite this, they worked hard and never complained about anything. They showed what it means to be hardworking and dedicated. It taught me to be tough and persevere through obstacles whenever life gets tough. Upon entering college, my mom started her first donut business. I would wake up at three in the morning on weekends and do backbreaking work for six hours. Sometimes my mom would yell at me after making a mistake, and before I knew it, I was in tears. I was going back to school on Monday, physically and mentally exhausted. I had nothing left in me, but I continued to fight. From this experience, I learned how I can stay mentally strong under all circumstances. I achieved all I could endure.
ACT Score: 35
Class Rank: 1 in 128
Major: Mechanical Engineering
What are your life goals? I plan to earn a BS in Mechanical Engineering as well as a Masters in Aerospace Engineering before continuing to work in the aerospace industry. My dream job would be at a company like NASA or SpaceX so that I can work on the next generation of space technology and help shape the future of space exploration. I want to find a job that will challenge me every day to be a better version of myself and to push the boundaries in engineering.
What challenges have shaped you and how? One challenge that shaped who I am today was taking the Iowa Central Western Civilization course in my second year. This was my first introduction to college courses and the challenges associated with them. Until then, I had never had to study much outside of class or even take notes outside of math class. I think this class woke me up and showed me what a tough class looks like. This experience helped me prepare for the college classes I would take later in high school, as well as prepare for the classes I will take in college later.
Valley of the Monks West
ACT Score: 36
Major: Biology and double major viola, German minor
What are your life goals? I have always been fascinated by science, especially the fields of infectious diseases and immunology. Volunteering at the Lutheran Hospital in Iowa for the past four years has shown me the joy of helping patients, which I hope to continue in the future as a physician. I also enjoyed the laboratory research experience I had and hope to pursue an MD / PhD path, which will allow me to engage in both laboratory and clinical concentrations in the medical field. I would also like to continue playing my viola in a civic orchestra or chamber group to collaborate with professional colleagues in additional settings outside of a hospital or laboratory.
What challenges have shaped you and how? Getting my friends together to play viola Christmas tunes every year at the Veterans Hospital is one of my absolute favorite parts of being a musician. I found a love for live music and collaborating with others through this setting. During the pandemic, that opportunity was taken away and my favorite parts of the music were no longer possible. I wanted to create an opportunity to bring musicians together and also provide financial relief to those struggling in my community. I founded “Play for Plenty,” an organization that produces recorded classical music concerts where viewers are encouraged to donate to my Food Bank of Iowa campaign. I recruited the professional musicians who are my mentors and friends, created my website, edited the remote recordings together to create each piece and advertised my website to raise funds for my community. I’m so happy that I was able to bring back one of the best moments of my life, even in a different form.
ACT Score: 35
Major: Biochemistry – Combined BS / MD Diploma Program
What are your life goals? I intend to become a doctor. While observing physicians and volunteering, I have seen the passion and enthusiasm of physicians to be committed to the health of their patients and to be compassionate throughout their care. Seeing the empathy of physicians strengthened my desire to serve others and my professional aspiration. I hope to continue research and pursue clinical medicine, which would give me the opportunity and privilege to help improve the lives of patients of all ages.
What challenges have shaped you and how? Every night I stay awake thinking about what to do. From job descriptions to calculating a minute-by-minute schedule in my head, I can’t rest until the wee hours of the morning. Every hour I spent awake in bed, I faked every single thing that could go wrong, increasing my anxiety and stress. As my organization and productivity increased, my physical health suffered. The added stress of my insomnia made me physically weak, getting sick and affecting my strength. To slow down and revitalize my health, I started to meditate and write down my chores before staying overnight. Although exhausting at first, the inability to fall asleep gave me a valuable skill set – I learned to function with minimal sleep and eventually became more organized.