Challenge + diversity essay topics

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May 14, 2019
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Hi everyone! I would really appreciate feedback on my current idea for the challenge essay, as well as any help with choosing between three topics for the diversity essay.

Challenge: I was planning to write about being a caregiver for my grandfather, who has Alzheimer's. Since developing symptoms, he stopped getting along well with any family members other than me and my mom. Between the two of us, I have the more flexible schedule, so I took on the responsibility of helping him with daily tasks.
He also has issues with paranoia and aggressive behavior, and I often have to mediate conflicts between him and other family members. The most difficult part about this is preventing him from getting physically combative, as I am very petite and can't restrain him if he becomes violent. I can talk about how I drew on the conflict resolution training I received while volunteering as a health educator in order to better manage these conflicts. I could also talk about how the patience, composure under pressure, etc. I developed through this experience will help me respond to challenging situations and patients in the future.

Growing up and attending college in West Virginia--focusing on the impact of being from an environment with low health literacy, large rural population, and very poor health compared to the rest of the country (#1 in obesity, cardiovascular disease, drug overdoses, etc.). I could write about how this shaped my interest in public health (majored in PH + most of my ECs are related in some way), as well as my goal of becoming a primary care physician.
2) Also growing up in West Virginia, but from the angle of an immigrant and ethnic/religious minority trying to fit into a predominantly white and conservative Christian society. I initially felt pressure to be a "cultural ambassador" around coworkers and patients, some of whom had never interacted with a person of my ethnicity before, but eventually realized that I loved being a part of these cultural exchanges.
3) One of my hobbies is cooking--I can talk about how I first learned to cook with my grandmother, and used this as a means of connecting with the older women in my family and learning about my heritage. Also, since I was a child, I have been interested in learning about other cultures and traditions. Since I do not live in a diverse area and didn't have the means to travel, I used cooking as a way to explore other cultures. I can also talk about doing research in a community nutrition lab in college and working on a project to help low-income families learn to cook healthier meals. **I did write about this latter part on my primary, so I'm not sure about touching on it again here**

I am leaning towards the first topic, as I did not talk about it much on my primary, but feel that it's pretty important to my identity. I'm mostly applying to schools in large urban centers, including several T20 schools, virtually all of which had zero students from West Virginia in last year's class according to MSAR. This is a pretty underserved area of the country in terms of health, so I hope it will make me sufficiently diverse?


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Feb 26, 2019
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By the time you read this, you may have already completed this or have settled on an idea/theme. But here's my two-cents:
  • Challenge: I think this is a solid topic to talk about. For the shorter prompts, I'd hone in on just one specific aspect, but go all out for the longer ones
  • Diversity:
    • 1) Kind of sounds like: "Growing up in X made me more aware to A, B, and C." Was there 1 specific life event/experience that made you realize this? While geographic factors are important, I would hone in on specific life events/experiences that pushed you along the lines of PH.
    • 2) Could be a good essay if done right. Focusing on the pressures would be a good talking point, as well as bringing in the perspectives of your family in America.
    • 3) I think this is your best option. This topic is really something that is unique to you because it connects to your family and has shown how it impacted your world view. I don't think you need the nutrition-lab plug if it's already included
Your challenge one is good.

With diversity i think 3 is your best bet, followed by 2. I dont think 1 is worth it unless you can pinpoint a specific life event/experience. I grew in similar situations to you as an ethnic minority in a predominately white environment (a small farm town in Iowa).

The big question is how would your upbringing in WV be any different than mine or any other similar experiences? Talking about geographic location as the reasoning for diversity is hard but it's not impossible if you talk specifics.
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