Friday, April 07, 2006

Cooke - Appreciation of the Arts

Discuss your appreciation for the arts using specific pieces of art, literature, music, or film as illustrations. (1500 characters or 300 words)

I have studied the works of Shakespeare, the poetry of Frost, and the readings of Poe. But, when I analyzed Emerson’s Self Reliance I found a niche that made literature come alive. Emerson’s philosophy of man the individual separate from yet an inclusive part of society is why the work affected me so deeply. It focused my thoughts of who I am and what I wanted in life in a manner I had never been able to verbalize. I was validated by Emerson’s belief that the mandate for conformity is a violation of the rights of the individual. Instead of society raising thinkers, leaders, and philosophers, society creates followers who become slaves to society. In distilling this concept from Emerson, I experienced the realization that it is still true today. With awareness comes the reality that even today we are not taught to think or be different but to conform. Emerson’s wisdom still cries out to us from a century and a half ago. What great men have in common is the courage to listen and act as individuals. Emerson urges us to be a product of ourselves, to live in the present, rather than measure our worth against past accomplishments or live by old ideas. These concepts of Emerson’s reinforce my core beliefs of how precious are our free will and independent judgment. Although I have always been an avid reader, I have never taken the time to contemplate the interactions of what I was reading to the events impacting my daily life until my mind was opened by the reading of Self Reliance.

Cooke - Einstein's Mysterious

Comment on this quote: "The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. –Albert Einstein, Living Philosophies, 1931 (4400 characters or 850 words)

The great unknown, into the dark, the search for enlightenment, are but other ways to describe Einstein’s quote that mystery is the fundamental emotion…of true art and true science. Astronomers and scientists building on the knowledge of NASA developed the Hubble telescope to explore the great unknowns of space and time. They are able to see millions perhaps billions of years into the past and search for answers to questions of how creation, as we know it, began. Even a layperson can enjoy the results of these endeavors. There is true beauty to be found in the photographs returned from Hubble, and who on seeing them has not remarked on their splendor and pondered the philosophical questions of creation.
The micro explorers of medical science seeking answers to diseases that plague humanity such as cancer and HIV are another aspect of the beauty of science as it searches for answers of the mystery of life. Who among us cannot help but wonder at reports of the myriad cures being found in nature such as controlling diabetes with Gila Monster saliva or developing pain medications from the secretions of frogs. Or perhaps the development of nano-technology and the possibilities to intervene and strengthen the bodies defenses on the molecular and even the atomic level. What mysteries will science uncover, and what will their impact be on humanity? With every answer still another question is postulated.
All the hard sciences are constantly seeking answers to questions of who we are, where we came from, what advances are being made towards securing our future, and how we are impacting our environment. Everyday, in all aspects of life, mystery and beauty are interwoven into our existence. The unknown is mysterious. It drives us to discover. Why else would we want to discover what can be found in the rain forest whether a new plant, animal or the cure for a well known disease. Mystery allows us to question the origin of life and fuels our quest to travel to the moon and beyond.

The emotional experience garnered from art can only be labeled as mysterious. Where does the writer staring at a blank page get the inspiration? What art is involved in putting words together to form a world only envisioned in the mind or experience the full spectrum of human emotion? What mystery lies behind the beauty created by an artist? We see his work, but do we feel the same emotional hook the muse used to set the artist on the path to creating his masterpiece. What of the photographer or cinematographer who with new film sets out and creates photos and movies leading us to flights of fancy and wonder at their ability to tweak our emotions and provoke discourse into the meaning of their work. If there is one underlying principle of Einstein’s philosophy it has to be creation. The emotions of mystery and beauty lie in the plane of creation. It is here that concepts spring from the mind and grow towards reality. Where every advancement can be recorded much like Neil Armstrong’s remark as "One small step for man and one giant leap for mankind."

Cooke - Professional degree & concentration

List the graduate or professional degree and area of concentration you will pur Jessica if awarded a JKC Foundation Graduate Scholarship. Please explain the reason for your study and career choice. (2500 characters or 500 words).

Jessica and I were neighbors almost all of her life. Jessica had MS, and I never understood why it happened to her. I still do not know the reason but have always nurtured the thought that someday I am going to make a difference so there will not be anymore people like Jessica. When I started elementary school my mother purchased a memory book I was to fill out at the end of each school year. One of the questions in the book was the age old "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Doctor, an option I never selected, was one of the many available occupational choices. I did not start thinking of a career in medicine until much later, during a visit to my pediatrician’s office. As I grew older I began to truly see the service my doctor provided. Her knowledge and skill empowered her and gave her the unique ability to ease minds, while providing compassionate care. I grew to respect her for the knowledge and skill she evinced while doing the job she loved. Medicine and the rewards of helping people has been a driving force throughout my educational experience. I learned the basics in elementary school, tightened my focus in high school, and in college found my niche in biomedical studies. Suddenly all my dreams have become possible. The ability to explore unknown frontiers with unlimited possibilities and make a real contribution to medical protocols has provided the impetus for seeking Bachelor of Science in biology as the foundation for building a career in medicine as a primary care physician. I elected to be a primary care physician, a field with an ever-growing shortage of candidates, because they are the gatekeepers of the health care field. They are more involved in community health, management and policy making, and making changes that will benefit many people instead of just individual patients seen by specialist.

A wish for a world where every Jessica is healthy, one where no other child will suffer the pangs of loss of a "best" friend as I did, remains my ardent goal. A thirst for knowledge, intelligence, patience, compassion, strong work ethic and a desire to improve the lives of others will make me into a great doctor able to take pride in using my abilities to serve my community and the state of Mississippi.

Cooke - Why the University of Mississippi

Explain why you have chosen this particular school for your graduate program. (1500 characters or 300 words)

As a child I never knew the area where I resided was medically underserved. We did not have medical or health insurance, and I knew a visit to the doctor was another expense we could not afford. When you were ill, you stayed home with some medicine from the drug store. A lifelong resident of Mississippi I have seen and experienced the health burdens plaguing the residents of our state. With a family history going back five generations of farmers in the northern delta region, I have seen the shortfalls in medical care surrounding my family in the poorest regions of our state. I choose the University of Mississippi Medical Center, over any other medical school, because they better understand the unique health problems of our state. As a direct result of the knowledge of the way Mississippians live they strive to raise the bar of health care of Mississippi’s population and all mankind.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center prides itself in taking care of Mississippi residents and in producing medical professionals to effectively change the growing burdens and major problems of health care in Mississippi. Within this framework, the Medical Center’s principal purpose is to accomplish the goal of health professional education for Mississippi by enrolling students of exceptional promise and talent and providing quality treatment for all patients using the disciplines and specialties of modern health care.

Cooke - Long Term Career Plans

What are your long-term career plans? (1500 characters or 300 words)

I envision myself as a primary care physician. Providing medical treatment for my teachers and classmates, my family, my friends and their children. Providing care to the people who took care of me in the town where I was raised. I picture myself a small town physician where I will provide health care for families from birth to old age. Where I know every family and have a positive impact on their lives by being their physician and friend. A town where I imagine myself waking up in the middle of the night to deliver a baby or perhaps holding the hand of an elderly patient as her life slowly slips away. I see myself counseling and consoling families I have known since childhood when they are plagued by cancer, heart disease or other life threatening illnesses. To provide a comforting presence from someone they know and trust. Someone who knows them and to be by their side during life’s most difficult decisions. By meeting their medical needs, I will provide a positive step towards making their future and their lives better. Through practice and treatment I will have a better grasp of the health needs of my community. I can better understand how to change the way health care is delivered and…I can also imagine myself in front of congress or the senate trying to persuade the government of the need for new health care laws and regulations to benefit not only my patients but every patient regardless of their financial status.

Cooke - Critical Decision

Of all of my Cooke essays, I liked this one the least. My dad said he liked it because he said it really felt like it came from someone who was 25. He told me that most people haven't had to make a critical decision at this point in their live unless they had children. So, I didn't change it.

Describe a time you were under pressure to make a critical decision. How did you respond? What was the impact of your decision? Faced with the same situation do today, would you do anything differently? (1500 characters or 300 words)

A newly licensed driver, I was on my way to visit a friend in the country. A Mustang kept pace with me as we sped down winding roads that nearly everyone drove too fast. I envisioned the lady in the Mustang watching me crash my car, but it was a fleeting thought, easily dismissed. As I went over a hill I found myself on a collision course with a truck towing a car. The truck had swerved into my lane and was making a wide turn into a driveway. With both vehicles blocking the road, I could only remember the admonition of my defensive driving instructor to avoid as much of the collision as possible. I recall the expression of horror on the face of the driver in the car that was being towed. I swerved to avoid him and drove my car into the clay embankment on the side of the road. It was my first car accident. Swerving to miss the other vehicles meant the accident was my fault and paying for the extensive damages to my friend’s vehicle would be my responsibility. I would not alter my decision to drive off the road as it possibly saved one if not two lives that day. I learned not to drive too fast even on lightly traveled roads. I learned strangers will come to your aid in situations like this. The lady in the Mustang, an emergency room nurse, helped me out of the car and examined me. She called my mother and the police. The men towing the vehicles, both skilled auto mechanics, assuming some blame for the accident, helped to repair the car while I only paid for the parts.

Cooke - Motivation

What motivates you? How and why? (1500 characters or 300 words)

"Character counts," Pojman wrote, and "habits harness us to predictable behavior. Once we obtain the kind of character necessary for the moral life, once we become virtuous, we will not be able to turn morality on and off like a faucet." Character then becomes the foundational core of a person's being and the basis for who they are. It becomes the guiding principal behind almost every decision a person makes, and the motivation for the actions they take. Right and wrong, the fundamental core values of character, are my major motivators. These core values impact virtually everything I desire, think, say and do. I have the desire to do what is right for others, the world, and myself. I am constantly striving to better myself, and I pride myself on having a strong character upon which I base my decisions. I was once asked, "Would you rather do something right or do the right thing?" I responded that I would rather do the right thing because I understand that everyone has a different opinion of what is right and wrong for their own lives. I can comply with someone else’s wishes, even if I do not think they are right, as long as it does not go against my character. My independent transcendentalist nature provides clarity of purpose and motivates me to be true to my character rather than doing something just because someone else thinks it is right for me.

Cooke - Narrative Autobiography

"Tree burn," a new phrase (to me) in medical terminology, is but one condition supporting my certainty that I want to be a doctor. I have only recently learned about tree burn though my interest in medicine began at a much earlier age.

My first two years of college I concentrated on academics while participating in several honor and service organizations. I am proudest of my service in the Biomedical Science Society where, as vice president my sophomore year, my service was recognized with the Society’s 2001 Philanthropy award in recognition of my accomplishments over two years with Atria Assisted Living Home and various student organizations to provide bimonthly activities between Atria's residents and college students. I helped implement several programs between Atria’s residents and student organizations to provide ice cream socials, "senior" prom nights, hula parties, and many bingo nights. The work with Atria enabled students to help others, give of themselves, and enter into caring relationships with others. It developed an environment of collegial participation among students, faculty, and the community. It increased the civic and citizenship skills of students. It allowed Atria to better serve their clients and benefit from the infusion of enthusiastic volunteers. It exposed students to societal inadequacies and injustices in elderly care and empowered students to remedy them. I am proud that after four years many of these events still take place. I participated in health care activities, exercise classes, and walking "races." I read to many of them, listened to records with some, and watched an artist who learned to paint with his left hand after his right side was paralyzed by a stroke. Atria Assisted Living Home was a horizon widening experience. Where the residents’ unique perspective taught me that aging is often only a physical ailment, and their devil-may-care attitude that life is short and we needed to enjoy it whatever our age prevailed. Like a flower receiving the gardener’s tender care, I can think of no other experience where I received so much more than I ever gave. I took away lifetimes of advice, knowledge and lore shared by these people. They warmly accepted me, and I sill benefit from the memories of their love and concern for my future.

Organic chemistry, the bane of all but a few dedicated science majors, forced me to learn outside my comfort zone. On my first day of class, the professor instructed everyone to raise their hand. He asked everyone who had played a team sport to put his hand down. He then explained that organic chemistry was like playing sports, you have to practice in order to be really good. Then he said the analogy also holds true for anyone who has ever played a musical instrument. It takes dedication and practice to be a good musician. So, he asked everyone who played an instrument to put his hand down. Out of the sixty plus people in my class, I was the only one with my hand still raised and I knew I was in over my head. That very week I bought a violin and started practicing. I am not very good at it, but I practice and play. I have, however, decided there is a strong likelihood I will master the violin before I completely understand organic chemistry.
Irreconcilable differences led to a restructuring in the dynamics of my life. My parents, bastions of emotional support are unable to provide financial support, but with their love and that of my friends I have learned to balance work and school and become successfully independent. I have worked fifteen-hour shifts every weekend for two years, in Memorial Hospital, Gulfport, Mississippi, while pursuing my academic career during the week. It was here that I learned about tree burn.

Tree burn is like carpet burn except that it occurs after you have hugged a tree through a hurricane in order to survive. I saw many people with tree burn when I became one of the many survivors waiting out the fury of hurricane Katrina at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport. I am normally employed as the weekend cardiology department technician. I am one of the few people in my department without children and have volunteered to be our departments designated member of the hurricane and emergency preparedness staff. I left my home on Sunday with three pairs of scrubs and toiletries. The biggest worry on mind was the Medical College Admissions Test that I had taken only eight days before, and how nervous I would be for the next two months waiting for my scores to be reported. The next morning, instead of my shift ending, I was moving patients from the exterior rooms into the hallways to escape the glass of windows shattering under the assault of hurricane force winds. I helped nail doors shut, calm patient’s fears, and assist the other medical staff. We waited together. I do not remember feeling scared, probably because I was too busy attending to the people needing my help. The winds finally died down enough to board up the windows and provide a secure environment for the patients. I became part of the custodial staff and cleaned up glass and debris so we could return patients to their rooms. Like an unending nightmare, I was pressed into service in the emergency department where all available technical staff was needed to assist the medical staff. My first trip outside of the hospital occurred when a dump truck pulled into the ambulance bay. The driver let the tailgate down and over twenty people stepped out of the back. I helped treat minor lacerations of children rescued after enduring long periods of submersion in the flooding caused by the hurricane. Our discharged patients and newly homeless people often became restless as they waited worriedly together in the makeshift shelter the hospital had become. I helped wrap food to feed them. I passed out colors and stickers to children. I lent emotional support to parents putting on an appearance of normality and calm assurance for their children. By Wednesday, the hospital was running short of generator fuel. While returning to my office and bed having just finished taking a shower at 1AM, I found myself in a pitch-black hallway. Once again I was pressed into service in other departments, first ER then ICU, where I assisted in bagging patients needing the air no longer being provided by the respirators. I am sure it was disconcerting for some to see me doing this in my pajamas.
Wednesday afternoon, ninety-six hours after leaving for work, I was afforded my first opportunity to return to my home. When I arrived, my house looked perfect, but I was only able to push the door open a crack. My home, flooded into four feet into the attic during the storm, was knee deep in mud and muck from the flooding in Bay St. Louis. Most of my belongings were forever lost. I did not even try to go inside. I simply shut the door on my wrecked home and the emotional loss it contained and returned to work. Realizing I was very fortunate to still have a job in a hospital staffed with exceptional medical personnel who, in this crisis, stepped up and took responsibility to provide treatment and care to so many left homeless and destitute. As I relive the events of those four days, I am more certain than ever my career choice to become a medical doctor truly is my destiny.

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship

I am applying for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship. It requires a lot of essay writing and too much personal information, but I have finally finished putting my package together. The scholarship is outstanding. The foundation awards approximately 65 scholarships worth up to $50K per year for up to 6 years for graduate school. I will slowly be adding my essays to my blog. Some of them are repeats of my AMCAS application essays, but many are new. Enjoy.

How I reacted when I found out I was accepted...

I know the admissions committee met every Wednesday, and they would send out acceptances via email on the same days that they would meet. I interviewed in early December, and I was told that my name would probably not come up until mid-January becuase they had many other students to review before me. I checked my email every Wednesday night just in case the acceptance came early. Finally on Wednesday, January 4th, I was too tired to drive to check my email after staying out late. (I didn't have a computer at the time becuase I was living in a FEMA trailer and couldn't get internet). I convinced myself that I didn't get an email because it was too soon, and I didn't want to drive to school or my mom's house to get on the internet. The next day, my boyfriend checked my email during his lunch break. He called to tell me the news, and I almost felt like he was joking with me. I cried. Told him I had to get off the phone so I could call everyone else. I called both of my parents (told each of them that I couldn't talk because I needed to call everyone else). Then I called and left a message for my step dad at his work and my brother at his work. Then all of my other relatives and friends in order of my cell phone listings. Then, I drove to my mom's house to read the email for myself. (Somewhere deep inside, I still felt like he may have misread the email!) My entire family including some of aunts, uncles, cousins and grandma celebrated at a local catfish house, Catfish Charlies in Gulfport, Mississippi. We had a great time.

How much has it co$t me?

$200 Various prep books, materials, old MCATs
$1500 Kaplan course
$100 MCAT fee minus refund after I chickened out
$200 Examkrackers, Audio Osmosis, prep materials from E-Bay
$0 AMCAS (fees refunded - courtesy for living in hurricane Katrina zone)
$14 Transcripts
$200 MCAT
$50 Secondary
$200 Suit, shoes, etc.
$40 Gas for interview travel
$5 Meal after interview
$60 Gifts for LOR writers
$5 Thank you cards
$100 Deposit to hold my spot in the class