This is the Harvey Mudd supplement prompt for one of its essays:
1. "Scientific research is a human endeavor. The choices of topics that we research are based on our biases, our beliefs, and what we bring: our cultures and our families. The kinds of problems that people put their talents to solving depends on their values." - Dr. Clifton Poodry
How has your own background influenced the types of problems you want to solve?
In the Philippines, we have an old saying: "He who does not know to look where he came from will never get to his destination." I've always believed that the environment and a person's upbringing are what shape his tendencies, characteristics, and qualities. I keep my roots in mind every day in my pursuits, goals, and ambitions.
My parents have had a great impact on me, and I don't mean the neverending support and aid I receive from them, but the things they did even before I was born. My mother never had the opportunity to go to college; growing up as the oldest of eight children in the Philippines she spent most of her time taking care of her siblings and working hard and diligently. My father, conversely, had some college education, but, like my mother, sacrificed his own self-actualization for his posterity: they both believed moving to the United States would provide both them and their children better opportunities for healthy lives.
Even though we weren't by any means affluent or opulent, my mother decided to send my brother and sister and I to Catholic elementary schools, stressing the importance of what she believed to be high quality education. She constantly reminded me to "work hard, because someone is paying for your school." And I did just that, becoming valedictorian of my graduating class.
Slowly approaching my high school career, I began to notice the strains of my tuition on my mother, who I still believe the main breadwinner of my family. Working overtime, becoming furious when her shifts were cancelled, and constant arguing with my father - it was too overwhelming for her. I had won a $2000 scholarship to a good Catholic high school, the same one my brother and sister attended years before, but I knew that alone wasn't enough to relieve the burden. And so, I myself made the decision to go to a public high school.
Yet, that alone was still insufficient to alleviate the situation. My parents' separation in my sophomore year of high school put my mother in even more financial strain. She had difficulty coping with test fees and other finances associated to my education. Not qualifying for meal tickets and thus fee waivers further aggravated the weight.
As such, I did what I could to help my mother. After being rejected to various jobs, I took to selling various snacks and foods to other students, even though it is forbidden on campus, in order to help pay for my multiple AP's, SAT's, and my volleyball dues. I even used some of my Christmas and birthday money to compensate for my test fees.
I was both confused and extremely angry. I did not understand why or how a financial situation could deter or obstruct a high-achieving person from his goals. I vowed to not only use my talents and abilities for myself and my family, but for others who were in my situation. Yet right now, I thought to myself, I could never achieve anything without focusing on a proper education.
In my high school career, I was drawn to pursue a career in engineering, which is, like me, logical and rational, and I still believe that engineering can change the world in so many fields. I promised myself to not only solve the world's problems through mathematics, but to solve the problems of high-achieving students suffering from financial difficulties everywhere.
I wanted so desperately to start some sort of fund - some sort of organization, some sort of foundation - where needy students of all backgrounds could seek help and aid so earnestly that I thought about my own children in the future and how I did not wish for any financial hardship to impede their success and aspirations. I knew companies like this existed - and I'm thankful from the bottom of my heart that they do - but I also knew that not everyone received the help that they deserved, and many did not even know about the potential benefits they qualified for. I'm aware that I can't possibly alleviate the whole world of its financial problems, but I know that even the tiniest speck of help can inspire others to do the same.
Though my situation was quite adverse, I was cognizant that thousands of other people would give anything for my life here in America. I realized when I lived in the Philippines, things that I took for granted - clean water and air, showers, medicine, and what hurt most of all: education - weren't always readily supplied. These things were necessities; how can there be any doubt or uncertainty as to whether or not they were available?
To me, technology is a beautiful thing. Its growth reflects that of humans themselves; with every discovery, technology improves; with every experience, good or bad, technology improves; with every change in thinking, technology improves. In the modern world, technology is becoming fundamental for survival - it provides us with clean water, life support, medication, and homes. Auspiciousness doesn't come as easily to other countries, yet why should that be their burden alone? Sharing and introducing technology is equivalent to establishing a foundation for basic necessities, and I believe that advancement only facilitates living even further. In essence, my ultimate goal and dream isn't to merely attend Harvey Mudd, but to contribute to the engineering field and society in ways that can only benefit and inspire others.