Tufts Tails
Common App

Randall’s. So predictably I didn’t want to go.  It also had to do with the fact that I was four. It was kind of cold, but my dad didn’t take me into the big, impersonal, black and white supermarket that day, so of course that’s all I wanted to do.  He drove to the parking lot and ushered me right outside the doors of the building, to what could graciously be called a stand, but what was really just a plastic fold-out table with a pretty old dude sitting behind it.  I didn’t say anything. I just stood out there in the cold while my dad rested his hand on my shoulder and talked to the old guy.  I had a vague impression that he was talking about me but when you’re four all that matters is you, and I was cold. “How old is he?” Old Man asked, rudely interrupting my little pity party I was having in my head. “Five” my dad responded. “No I’m not Dad, I’m four” His lie brought me back into the world. I felt his hand grab my shoulder a little tighter. The old man chuckled and told my dad an exception to the age restriction could easily be made. “Welcome to Neartown Little League.”

I had no idea then how significant that day at Randall’s would become. My father was everything to me growing up; nothing he ever did or said was questioned, because this was a man who truly had my best interest at heart. His insistence I play baseball a year early was no different. He not only was my father, but became my coach and my best friend as soon as I began playing ball.  Playing baseball under his tutelage was a transformative experience for me, even at the age of four. He taught me through sports that the world didn’t always center around me. Sometime it did, sometimes people are counting on you, sometimes it’s ok to assert yourself and believe you know best for the organization you are a part of. But not always. Because there are just as many times that pride must be swallowed, that the dirty job must be done for the betterment of something even as insignificant as a tee-ball team. Because if you’re invested in it, if it’s something you put your time and your energy in to, it is certainly not insignificant for you. I look back on the Old Man (the founder of the Little League and head umpire) and my Dad and that day standing outside Randall’s in the cold, and I realize how instrumental it was in making me who I am today. It blossomed a love of sports, which have taught me more lessons that 500 words allows  to share, but it also brought me infinitely close to my father, and I thank the universe for every second I was allowed with him.

-Noah

Common App Essay

  I am from Sidney, Nebraska (population 6,772), a large town for the area of the nation it occupies. I was born here seventeen years ago, the youngest of four daughters. I am a resident of the Panhandle, the small square of land jutting into Colorado and Wyoming on the western borders of Nebraska. As a child, I hated the land and the people, especially after my parents decided to homeschool us so we had the opportunity to travel. I resented the dull, colorless land that has been described as “The Great American Desert,” and the people populating it seemed so simple after seeing urban areas of the country. As I have grown older, the resentment has ebbed. In the west, unlike the green eastern two-thirds of the state, the ground is colorless; an endless sea of grass and red winter wheat broken only by bluffs and valleys. I failed to see the beauty in Nebraska until the last few years, when my life here is drawing to a close. Suddenly, I can see that this land is sacred and eternal; that no matter how far I wish to go from it, the aching beauty of the plains has been seared into my dearest memories. There is a quiet, haunting peace in the hush of prairie wind; a terrible beauty that rattles the very bones of the soul with each clap of thunder on tumultuous summer evenings. I have learned to love the land of Nebraska and the people that live beneath its wide blue sky. I am true to the culture of this land – the honest, hardworking homesteader pride and mentality that was born from perpetual struggle with nature. I don’t enjoy sports (though most Nebraskans do), but for the sake of the physical land, the legacy of my culture, and the people to which I belong, I bleed Husker Red. Though I long for the opportunity and complexity of more urban areas of the nation, I will always have Nebraska in my heart. 

  It’s nearly impossible to explain what my family means to me and what they have done throughout my life to challenge and change me. My father, Dave, is a funny and wise man. He has a joke or a random fact about almost anything, and a meaningful anecdote for every trial in life. My mom, Julie, is a practical, loving woman. She has advice on everything, a solution for every problem, and an outlook on life that’s tempered by her pragmatism. My oldest sister, Court, is like my mom and my dad. She is practical, always smiling, and always has a joke. Whit, the middle of my older sisters, has never really fit into the Young mold, but she’s still a vital part of the family. She’s a girly girl, a social butterfly locked in a web of social misfits and nerds; she reminds us there’s a world beyond our own minds. Alex, the sister closest in age to me, is the artist and mathematician. She is unashamed and blatant, a ferocious ambassador for the culture of art and fantasy to which she belongs. I am Darby, the baby of the family – the thrifty youngest sibling. I’m mature for my age, a good cook, an aspiring writer, a failed comic, a recovering procrastinator, a messy-desker, and an eater of unhealthy food. I’m the cautious one that sits back and watches my sisters grow and make mistakes, while vowing never to make the same. I feel someday that will come back to haunt me. I know they all think it will.

  I am a unique yield from the breadbasket of America; a Cornhusker, a child of the “Good Life” – a born and bred Nebraskan. And I am the sum of the differences of my family members, the still-growing product of eighteen years of life with such wonderful people. My life has been set to the music of wind and laughter; my family and home have helped to define me.

Celebrate Your Nerdy Side

Right angles make me happy. In my metals-in-art class, my teacher found out about my love for precision on the very first day. Despite the fact that I am not artistic in any way, I knew how much I would enjoy that class. In our first “shaped wire” project, I decided to make a bracelet with wires zigzagging through the middle. While others were making free form shapes and swirls, I carefully measured out twenty equal segments in each wire and bent them all at perfect ninety degree angles. I brought my protractor into class, loving the idea of meticulously bending the wires. This was much more difficult than expected, and although I could have taken the easy way out and not have had them exact, I knew that this was not my vision and I would not be satisfied until they were precise.

 I stayed late after class and came in during my free block, determined to make my bracelet geometrically correct. After I had successfully completed my bracelet to my liking, I exclaimed “Perfect!” At this, my teacher laughed and asked if that was going to be my senior quote because unbeknownst to me, I had been using that word quite often to describe how I wanted my work to turn out.

Right angles are very precise and make calculations easier. To my classmates’ bafflement, I seize every opportunity to use “sohcahtoa”. In addition, right angles are simply aesthetically pleasing. There is just something about right angles that is oddly satisfying. I demand precision from my work and have a great time with it.

Be who you are

I am an Albanian mountain, springing up on homeland shores, imprinted by the footsteps of an olive farmer, his folk cries resound throughout my earthen marrow

I am Basho, a fourteenth century Japanese poet, traveling to shrines, barefoot and open to the spirits of cherry blossoms and crying babies, open notebook with seamless haikuns

I am a pomegranate, a childhood nickname for a round belly, flamboyantly colored, bearing the seeds that mirror my whole, lending my entire self in every Other endeavor

I am the holographic paradigm, living in eastern circular time, affirming all perceptions are one perception, all manifestations are one manifestation

I am a rap song, pulsing with the fearlessness of heavy bass, beating my marks, my existence into my world, releasing stimulated words in a one-breathed exhale of reality

I am a hymn, absorbing every moment of unbridled imperfect humanity, every heart-heave before releasing a resounding note, every falter, every hope

I am myself, boldly courageously connecting every strand of energy between disciplines, pressing against the nerves of existence, feeling every perspective, seeking every perspective.

I am open, breathing, living, ready.

What makes you happy?

"It’s the little things in life."

The little successes and nice things that happen throughout the day make me happy. It’s getting a new book in English class that looks interesting. It’s sitting down in Latin and being able to tell what a passage means without the dictionary. I love playing my warm-ups without a single sour note sounding from my Oboe. I like it when I pour a latte with a heart on top and the customer compliments my skill. It’s nice to get to lunch and find that one of my friends brought corndogs for everybody.

I often feel like everything is going wrong, and there is nothing better than seeing that something has gone definitely right. It’s leaving work and seeing a rainbow after a bad day. No matter how I feel, I will always be a bit better after the perfect song comes on the radio.

My parakeet Pippin is a great source of little bits of happiness. He likes to watch me study and say things like “Who’s a pretty bird? Drew!” How could I not be happy when an expert like Pippin tells me that I am a pretty bird? The best thing about Pippin is that no matter how long I was gone, he missed me. If I leave for a few hours, Pippin will sing and sing upon my return. He makes me feel much loved.

What makes me happy?  Rainbows and parakeets and little things that go right make me happy.

Who are you?

“And I just can’t wait to be king!” I sang my favorite Disney ballad at the top of my lungs. Actually, that probably does not qualify as singing, but I made sure no one was nearby. If people did walk by, they would be intimidated by my chanting and would pretend they did not see me as they quickly veered away. Meanwhile, my dog, a beautiful, almost-human golden retriever, aimlessly chased spirits around the grassy field.

I always come here at night, far from people, far from worries and duties, where I can let out everything I have inside me. I can channel all my stress into crazy things. I dance, sing, and roll around the grass with my dog, wrestling him like a bear. I love coming with my friends, too, especially those who dance along.

Other days, when I am tired, I simply lie down on the grass and look at the starry sky, thinking about what we know, and more importantly, what we do not know; at least not yet. When the grass is long I can actually make grass angels. They’re kind of like snow angels but green and deformed. I also like to sit under the umbrella-shaped tree, my favorite tree in the neighborhood, and hug my dog while I listen to music.

When we left Bolivia, I never dwelled in “why me” or “what if.” Instead of thinking about the tragedy, I distracted myself doing strange things. It was like a coping mechanism, and I guess dancing around was one of the ones that stuck even after I adapted.

The best ways to cope are always the weirdest ones. Once I was sad, so I decided to make a sculpture out of rocks and superglue. I’ve always loved superglue. It is no wonder I always had the oddest show and tell presentations when I was little.

Let your life speak

 

            I grew up in Cochabamba, Bolivia, a small city in the heart of South America. My eighteen cousins all lived on the same street, so my life was eventful. Since I belonged to a wealthy family, most things were handed to me. Little did I know that it wouldn’t last.

            When I was 14, the emerging socialist government decided that it was time for them to own my father’s company. They took over the company, our house, and our money. We had to run away.

Four weeks later, we ended up in Miami. I still remember my first day of school like it was yesterday. I was determined to excel in every class. I had seen movies about American public schools so I was certain that I could beat the system from day one. I could not have been more wrong. I was used to the occasional, rebellious whisper in class, but there I felt like I had jumped into a game of Jumanji at the wrong time. Everyone was talking at the same time as I quietly sat there. To top things off, when the teacher walked into the class, I respectfully stood up because that was the drill in Bolivia. People looked at me like I was a freak, and I was confused.

As years passed by, my family became jaded. Spoken words cut through my soul like no blade ever could. My house overflowed with a crippling tension that strained my relationship with my parents.

Less than a year ago I decided that I had had enough of it. I talked to my parents about it. My mom cried, and my dad told me he had never been more proud of me. I regret not talking to them about it before because now I finally feel like I have a real family.

In retrospect, I’m glad this happened to me because I learned to adapt quickly to any environment, and I’d love to adapt to Tufts.

What makes you happy?

With the press of a button, a camera’s shutter will snap open. The aperture blades and shutter work together to capture whatever moment I desire. The perfect exposure of the perfect moment will remain a photographer’s pride and glory. When I realized how much cameras truly increase the longevity of memories, the idea of buying my own tantalized my 14-year-old mind.

The glamorous lifestyle of a photographer was one I coveted deeply. I decided a camera would be a worthy investment.  My two-year savings from doing odd jobs for my uncle had nearly burned a hole in my wallet. I persevered until I was 16-years-old and completed my summer research internship. With a portion of my stipend, I was thrilled to realize I could finally afford my own camera. A fit of regression came over me and I excitedly rushed to my mom.

Looking through my digital single-lens reflex camera’s viewfinder, I am able to see a world that is otherwise unavailable to me. Every picture I take is my own and I rejoice in knowing that my perspective is unique. Only until I understood the inner workings of a camera did I learn to appreciate such a well-crafted piece of hardware. The amount of power that this hardware puts in people’s hands is immense. Our time is finite. A photograph, virtually, is not. This exclusive, intimate world of memories where one can escape to never fails to put a smile on this child’s face.

Celebrate your nerdy side

‘Intellectual’ is the word people use to describe me when they are being polite. Most of often it’s ‘weird’, ‘freak’ or ‘crazy’.  They’re quite accurate descriptions, actually. So be sure that, for me, they are compliments. They mean I’m strange, they are the reason for those whispers in hallways, but they also mean I’m distinctive.

Externally I’m the clichéd nerd; wild hair and old fashioned glasses. Personally, I believe that’s where the cliché ends. Most people would agree. My nerdy side is not focused on one thing but is really a need to gather knowledge for knowledge’s sake. (Yes, I should be condemned to Dante’s eighth circle, but it does help keep a conversation alive.)

As a reclusive, only child, I was (and still am) often found immersed in a book. Books fueled my obsession with the idea of perspectives; to know how different people think, what they have to say. My fixation causes me to constantly alter my own perspectives, viewing the conventional with a deep antipathy.

This jumble of viewpoints has made me a bit of an unrepentant eccentric; I would rather discuss organized religion than learn the latest gossip. I’m a word snob; I read etymology books when I’m bored. I burst into French when the mood strikes and muse over the origins of idioms and fairytales. My mother, ever the voice of society, asks me “Why don’t you act like girls your age?” I reply, “Why should I?”

Like I said, I’m rather unapologetic about it. 

Let you life speak

A rather frequent question I ask my mother, when my father becomes insufferable is “Ma, why did you marry him?” And my father will stand there in mock outrage, as my mother replies with that wicked smirk in her eyes “Lakshmi, we’re all entitled to a couple of mistakes.”

I was raised with only my parents as my family. My house is one where the philosophy, ‘a child should be seen, not heard’ has never existed. My relationship with my parents is unique because they are more my friends than authority figures. We are very frank with each other, saying exactly what we feel about the other. I can make a joke at their expense and not fear their reprimand. It’s true that at times it has created some tension between us, but we are always aware of the underlying respect we have for each other.

Because of this, I have learnt, (especially with my parents being opinionated as I am) after countless arguments, to voice my opinions but also to choose my stances judiciously. I am a person who has strived to always be honest, to never indulge in the safety of pretences. (Truly, I’d make a horrible politician) When I moved to my boarding school found it steeped in politics and carefully chosen fibs. It took me some time to understand that for me voicing my opinions and staying true to myself is more important than fitting in.

And honesty always seems to keep life interesting.