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‘At heart, I am Chinese’

This is part of a series of MIT application essays submitted by students who were later admitted to the Institute. The following prompts are from the 2014-15 admissions season.

Prompt

Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (200-250)

Response

I am completely Chinese. My parents are Chinese and I was born in China. However, as first generation immigrants, my family and I have been immersed in the French Canadian culture of Montreal and the American culture of Kansas City. I spent a measly five months in China after my birth, a seemingly short eight years in Montreal, and an even shorter nine years in Overland Park. At heart, I am Chinese like my background, but my childhood is colored by French influences and my adolescence is completely painted with the exuberant American character. As a result, a lot of my life has been categorized by my three countries and cultures: the languages I speak, the habits I have, and the aspirations I dream.

My college track, as of right now, is to double major in economics and mathematics while also minoring in French, but my ultimate goal is to make a positive and memorable impact on the world. Every subject field has a direct lineation to my different cultures, and the most obvious is my interest in French. While it may sound silly, I feel beautiful when speaking such a beautiful language, and I aim to further develop my linguistic foundation through a minor and studying abroad. My love for mathematics is most primarily rooted in my Chinese culture, as my father’s enthusiasm about little mathematical tricks is contagious. Finally, the opportunities and the boldness I find in American culture are best epitomized in its economic landmark: Wall Street.

Prompt

Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250)

Response

Math had always been the easy, simple subject for me until calculus suddenly turned math into a terribly fascinating new world for me to explore. My paradigm regarding the seemingly rigid discipline shifted from indifference to a desire to learn how the puzzle pieces of the world clicked and fitted together. I hoped to spread that sentiment by establishing Mu Alpha Theta at my school, a chartering process that I expected to last at most two months.

That preconceived notion could not have been further from the truth. After an arduous month involving hours of research, several phone calls, and admittedly, some pestering, I gained approval to start the chartering process in the second semester of my junior year. Immediately, I wrote the charter application, bylaws, supplementary materials, and student application for the math department to review. Unfortunately, as each error was traded in with another, I realized that my predicted timeframe was an over-optimistic dream. The lag was attributed to the lack of cohesive communication and initiative; I kept pushing my responsibilities to the next week until there was no more time left. Consequently, I took greater measures to accomplish my goals by setting hard deadlines for myself and approaching the math teachers more frequently for feedback.

After seven months, the math department and I have just finished the application process and are reviewing the candidates. Seeing my passion manifest into a tangible organization excites me, and I hope that it does the same for my school’s community.

—Judy Wang ’19