I am fascinated by the brain. I always have been.
I remember when a neuroscientist arrived at my first-grade classroom to give me and my classmates a lecture: an introduction to the human brain. What it was, where exactly in our bodies it was located, and what exactly it did. According to him, it was a wrinkly, gray blob that resided in our heads and helped us think. After he had finished speaking, I immediately raised my hand. I wanted to know more.
“Where is the thalamus of a chicken typically located?”
I, however, never got to hear his answer, because the teacher sent me outside for “interrupting” and “asking nonsensical questions.”
My interest in the brain has since evolved from a simple curiosity about its structure and function to a profound amazement at its complexity. The most complicated organ in any living thing, the brain is not simply the biological command center of the human body; it has served, at one time or another, as the seat of every idea and construct in this world. Quite simply, everything that has ever been spoken, written, or created by humans was, is or will be a product of the brain. The gravity of this concept, to me, is staggering.
Yet the most salient aspect of my current interest in the brain is a burning desire to study its workings; to discover something new about the execution or organization of even one of its untold number of processes.
I want to be a neurolinguistic researcher. Cornell University is the school with the courses, professors, and resources to make my aspirations a reality. I intend on double-majoring in biological sciences with a concentration in neurobiology and behavior as well as in linguistics. I want to take classes like BIONB 4230: “Cognitive Neuroscience,” BIONB 4440: “Neural Computation,” and LING 6634: “Philosophy of Language.” I want to be inspired by professors in whose interests I see mine mirrored, like Andrew Bass, whose research emphasizes the neural basis of the production and encoding of vocal signals; like Sandra Vehrencamp, who studies the evolution of vocal signals using bird song as a model; like Draga Zec, who studies phonology and the phonology-syntax interface. I want to work in places like the Phonology Laboratory under Dr. Zec.
I want to study neuroscience and linguistics because they truly and deeply fascinate me, but I also want to use the knowledge I gain at Cornell. I want to get involved with the Cornell Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium. I also intend to contribute to the city of Ithaca. I want to provide mentoring in a college discovery program through the Ithaca Youth Bureau, helping close the achievement gap in the Ithaca City School District and making college accessible to all students.
Also accepted to UChicago, Washington U in St. Louis, Cornell, Dartmouth, Wesleyan, Carnegie Mellon, University of Michigan, top UCs (variant) with this essay.
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