约翰·霍普金斯大学（Johns Hopkins University，简称JHU），在2024U.S.NEWS世界大学排名第7位，是美国第一所的研究型大学，同时也是许多同学的梦中情校！
Ordering the Disorderly
Entropy is the property that provides the basis for the second law of thermodynamics, which states that the universe naturally gravitates toward disorder. Its explanation comes from the idea that the universe prefers to conserve energy; because energy must be put into organization, everything around us is constantly descending into an increasingly complex state of chaos. Cheerful, I know. While it may seem like a concept worth forgetting – especially with its conviction about an imminent “universal heat death” – entropy has taught me far more outside of the classroom than in it.
I, unlike the universe, have never been a very big fan of disorder. Admittedly, I worship the planner in my backpack, hate it when I have more than three unread emails, and am the designated pantry organizer of my household. I arrive dependably at school every morning half an hour early and have mastered the art of Marie Kondo’s file folding for each of my closet drawers. I have fallen in love with the idea of becoming a surgeon to dedicate my career to putting back together what has been broken –ordering the disorderly– and every organizational habit I have developed has been a microcosm of that passion.
However, life is often more unpredictable than might allow a color-coded spreadsheet to double as a crystal ball. When I am faced with a group discussion in which conflicting ideas create more questions than answers, or when I am rushing from track practice to a robotics meeting, worried about when to fit my homework in, I remind myself of the importance of entropy.
For a system to be considered at equilibrium, entropy must actually be at its maximum. In order to be stable, everything must be marginally out of control. This applies just as much to life as it does to chemistry. The best stories I’ve written didn’t start with an outline, but with random phrases I’d jotted down in a notebook in a moment of epiphany. My favorite chemistry labs were exponentially disastrous as they progressed, teaching me more about error analysis than acids and bases. My most memorable class periods were the ones that started with a lesson plan but followed the curiosity of the class, taking us anywhere from the taxonomy of mermaids to hiking horror stories.
Entropy is also a measure of the changes in the status quo of a system. The more unpredictable the outcome of a reaction, the higher its entropy value. Although I love my orderly desktop and preprepared Spotify playlists for any mood, I embrace copious entropy and all that it represents, because I, too, want to be the unexpected in a world that expects the status quo. I want to defy predictions and make world-changing discoveries, increasing my entropy as my impact tends limitlessly towards infinity. Though I don’t expect it to be easy and may occasionally enlist the help of my planner and about a million colored pens, I take comfort in knowing that my intention to excel as a woman in STEM and a young adult dystopian novelist pleases the universe.
A high entropy value increases the chance for both failure and success; it is both the natural way of the world and the primary supplier of chaos. I welcome both with open arms, though chaos and failure still scare me. Now, when I am the only one in my class with a particular opinion on our book or am stressed about the caveats of a busy schedule, I take a deep breath and recognize the potential to thrive in it. I am supposed to exist in chaos. I can venture into uncharted territory and comfortably embrace the positive that lies in the unknown, sure that when that entropic feeling inexorably takes over and life gets messy, I’ll be ready. To feel out of control is not the end of the world, but the natural state of it.
Pack Light, But Be Prepared
Friday night, September the 16th 2022 and I am packing for my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. It is a tradition at my school that all seniors begin their final year of school by embarking on the “Camino de Santiago” (the Way of St. James). Four days of walking a total of 135 kilometers to reach our destination. We have been told to pack light, a bulky and heavy backpack will hold you back, but to be prepared for: changing weather (lightweight clothes, a jacket, rain poncho) blisters and sore feet (plenty of socks, extra shoes, bandages, antiseptics) and physical exhaustion (dried fruits and nuts, cereal bars, extra water bottles). I look at my compact backpack and I think…it is going to be a long night.
As I settle into the task at hand, carefully packing, unpacking, and readjusting items, trying to make them fit, it occurs to me that we do the very same thing in life. The backpack that we carry on our journey must also be packed light so that it is easy to carry, and it too must be equipped with everything we will need to successfully face the unexpected; to be prepared for anything that comes our way, and this got me thinking, “What do I have in my backpack?”
The first time I consciously chose an item to pack was in first grade. I remember as I listened to my teacher stressing the importance of “good behavior”, my interest was riveted on the transparent yo-yo with flashing lights which would be given to the student who received the most merits at the end of the month. I had a goal and I planned to work diligently towards achieving it, and I did. That feeling of success was so fulfilling, so gratifying that it marked a path that I would follow from there on out.
I was twelve when I made a deliberate switch of items in my backpack. I had been playing soccer forever, we all did, it is the sport of choice here in Spain, so many were surprised when I decided to take up rugby instead. My decision was based on finding a sport that not only matches my physical abilities and potential but more importantly it reflects who I am. In rugby, there are no superstars, both victory and defeat are owned by the team with an intense spirit of camaraderie. I have been playing on a federated level for the past five years and all the values that are embodied in this sport – integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline, commitment, and respect – have found a permanent home in my backpack.
There came a time when I realized that something was missing. I was unable to put a name to it, but I would reach for it in certain situations, and it was not there. My decision to do ninth grade of high school abroad, in New Jersey, led me to discover what it was. I had to learn how to put myself out there for people, outside of my circle, to get to know me. I had to open myself up to making new connections and brace myself for possible rejection by stepping out of my comfort zone. This experience marked a before and after in my life for which I will be eternally grateful.
It is 1.00 a.m. and I have finally finished packing; a tight fit, but I have everything I will need. As for my other backpack, I do a quick mental check: a goal-oriented drive, actions coherent with my character, the ability to open myself up to and learn from new and enriching experiences and other items, carefully tucked in there. Am I prepared for what lies ahead? I believe so, and the best part is, I left room for so much more.
Tikkun Olam, a desire to help repair the world, is the most important value that my family transmitted. Although it was presented to me all my life, I internalized its meaning when I realized I needed to do something for my city.
I grew up in La Plata, which sits on the widest river in the world, the Río de La Plata. I’ve been sailing on this river since I was a child. As I got older, I started to notice some changes in the river: dead fish, floating waste, and a murky color. This filled my heart with concern and sadness. After brainstorming about how I could help restore the river to its original glory, I had my eureka moment: filter the trash out of the water using a waterproof barrier. I gathered people in my neighborhood who shared my concern, and after several attempts, the floating waste barrier we had engineered was up and running. It was empowering to take an idea from my head and with hard work turn it into something physical and useful. However, cleaning up the river is just the beginning, I’m inspired to create more mechanisms like this one.
At Hopkins, I aim to spread the concept of Tikkun Olam and carry my initiative to fight against pollution, as I intend to develop new systems with my peers and professors to build a greener campus, just as I did in my city. Hopkins is the ideal place for this thanks to the variety of courses it offers to complement my ideas and ambitions: working alongside Professor Michael Tsapatsis would help me enrich my knowledge in green energy, in order to reduce waste and pollution. Moreover, being part of Professor Marc Donohue’s research group would allow me to work in collaborative projects, and thrive on catalytic systems to reduce emissions from industrial processes that will benefit Hopkins’ community. I would love to connect these projects with my Latin roots, and the OLÉ Latine student group is the perfect environment for it. From this, I will gain knowledge to build myself as a professional, and then bring those transformative ideas back to my hometown.
That’s why I strongly believe that the opportunities in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at JHU are absolutely perfect for me to apply what I’ve learned from my experience and engage in this new community to make the best out of it.