Thomas Larsen ’22: Excerpts From College Admission Essays
I angled my palm parallel to the sky, standing like a statue. Atop my hand sat a beachball, shimmering from the mist of the water. Suddenly, I whipped the ball over the net, swiftly curving it to the other side of the pool. I turned to my brother: “That’s how it’s done. Up, across, and push!” Then, after many out-of-bounds shots, he, too, curved the ball to the other side.
I’ve always had a unique relationship with my brother, Louis, who suffered a stroke, paralyzing his left side. But like any younger brother, I pestered him to play with me. Despite this, I noticed that he always struggled and wanted to help him improve.
One of his problems was balance. To help, I focused on walking and holding his ankle to the ground. After numerous failures led to many alterations in my approach, his awkward movements began to improve. This success filled me with ambition. Games became less about winning or losing and more about nurturing talents. I learned to enjoy the process of experimentation.
From Louis, I learned that understanding someone’s history is crucial to forming valuable relationships. I feel that my curiosity, leadership, and optimism will serve me well in both college and the field of scientific research. Perhaps I could create prosthetics and exoskeletons to aid in the rehabilitation of the disabled. One day, I hope I can help people like my brother project their dreams over the net, despite whatever curveballs life may throw them.
From Louis, I learned that understanding someone’s history is crucial to forming valuable relationships. I feel that my curiosity, leadership, and optimism will serve me well in both college and the field of scientific research.
Yesterday was insane. I stood up in my school’s Jazz Band and performed a completely improvised solo on my alto saxophone. The slow groove of Chameleon by Herbie Hancock allowed me to craft a funky melody upon the backbone of a lush keyboard, subtle bass, and driving percussion. Each instrument layered upon the other in a complementary fashion, slowly increasing in tempo and dynamics. Confident from days of practice, I knew the general themes I wanted to produce and was saving my secret weapon, the Bb blues note, to end my solo with a twist.
And so, I began. My mind raced with melodic patterns based on the E minor pentatonic scale. E to D. Back to E. Jump to A. Down to G. My fingers took control, and it felt as if I was subconsciously creating melodies that flowed to my hands before I could even process what I had done. It felt like pure magic. Six bars turned to twelve, which turned to twenty-four. My eyes squeezed shut, my elbows rocked back and forth, and my fingers hammered the Bb note with such intensity that I cast the horn into the air and descended the scale back to E.
By the end of the song, I was considered the star of the performance. I felt proud when the conductor and fellow section members applauded my work. So, yesterday, I wasn’t a Chameleon. I stood out from the background and embraced the pleasure that a single note brought me.
My face went pale; “Could it be?” A teacher informed me that Tobi, a feral cat who wandered the streets around Brooklyn Tech, was found in critical condition. After school, I rushed to meet her, where she explained the extensive and expensive medical procedures needed to save Tobi’s life. My heart compelled me to put Tobi’s well-being before everything else, translating my compassion into action.
The previous year, I founded and maintained an Instagram page dedicated to Tobi. Over a few months, hundreds of followers submitted pictures of her, creating widespread awareness for the now-beloved school mascot.
However, after a while, pictures of Tobi started to dwindle. At first, I thought nothing of this; after all, shortages were not uncommon. But after two weeks of no pictures, something felt wrong. Students began to worry about Tobi’s well-being, and no one knew where she was or if she was still alive.
After leaving the hospital, I co-founded and promoted a GoFundMe, named “Help Tobi the Techie!” Within twelve days, we received over two thousand dollars to pay for Tobi’s hospitalization. Students and parents from BTHS and other local schools donated to the charity. Because of everyone’s contributions, Tobi has fully recovered and now lives with a teacher. The immense help provided by the community showed me how people can step back from their work to help a common cause. Not only did I enrich the community’s lives, but they also enriched mine, even if that meant just saving an adorable cat.
Thomas is now a freshman at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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