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Table of Content I.

Common Application Essays a) My Father………………………………………………………………………………...……4 b) Love letter to Wikipedia……………………………………………………………...…..…...5 c) Life-changing Experience……………………………………………………………...……..6 d) Self-Identity…………………………………………………………………………...………7 e) Multiple Prompts…………………………………………………………………...................9


MIT Application a) Multiple prompts…………………………………………………………………….….…....11


University of Columbia Supplement a) Multiple prompts………………………………………………………………….…..……...12


University of California Application a) Prompt 1 i) Between Two worlds………………………………………………...………………14 ii)

Inspiration from the Past…………………………………………..……….….…15

b) Prompt 2 i) Hajj……………………………………………………………………………..…….16



Tips for Essay Writing

Be creative

Be sensere and don't brag

Don't be generic

Think "What will they learn about me in this essay?"



Common Application Essay My Father: A Person Who Inspired You Accepted: Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon

As we were moving along I saw coming up an unfamiliar sight; a new building had been erected (a strange occurrence in my small village of Ya’ra). The closer we got, the more I wondered what this new addition was. Finally, as we passed by, it reviled itself to be a strange factory of sorts. I asked my father if he knew anything about this machine; he told me that this was a new kind of small, light-weight cement factory that he was able to finance through his work at the Saudi Credit & Savings Bank. He went into detail of how this was a product of a new program he had been able to establish; a program in which the bank would use its surplus funds to fund small businesses. Later on I would learn of other enterprises that my father’s work was able to help get up and started. After earning his M.B.A from the states, my father returned back home proud and ready to begin again the journey that he had left. Finding a job was not difficult, in less than a month he had already began working at an oil firm based in Riyadh. After a while a friend told him of a job opening in a new department of the Saudi Credit and Savings Bank. The job was not very lucrative; no fancy title and low pay did not attract many eyes to a government position. Even though it paid far less than his current job my father took it none the less. He saw in it what most others didn’t; a chance for real, tangible change. He did not even think twice about the pay, “as long as it doesn’t make a bagger out of you than it’s more than enough” he’d always say to me. I always saw my father’s work as a blueprint that I wanted to build my future with. I saw how everyday he would go out in the morning and stay until the wee hours of the night and longed for something that would make me happy with working long and excruciating hours. My father’s example helped develop my conviction that one’s life isn’t solely his. That one’s life should be dedicated to the betterment of those who helped him along the way. One should not think of life as a competition to gain luxury and a life of pleasure, but rather one should see it as an opportunity to make a lasting mark of greatness where his body once stood. Coming from the modest background that was a product of my father’s ambitions, I began my educational journey in the national education system. I related a great deal to my fellow government school friends. We all came from modest backgrounds and rural villages across the nation. Due to that environment I was in a unique position that allowed me to truly understand the hardships of my fellow countrymen. Those years with my friends shaped the way I wanted to continue my father’s work. They made me realize that although what my father did was helpful, it could only do so much. For me to truly achieve my goal of continuing my father’s work I would need to emulate his work on a larger, much more effective scale and that is what I hope to do with my college education. In the end I leave you with an old Greek proverb that summarizes what I have learned from my father:

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in”.



Love Letter to Wikipedia Accepted: Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon

Our lives are often marked by certain events that change who we are. These changes, or marks along the road, make us who we are. We are the sum of these markers, and these markers are the sum of us. Out of all the markers in my life, one would be a standing Eiffel Tower compared to the rest. On a fateful day in mid fall of 2008, we had been introduced to a new arts teacher. This new teacher, being the youthful man that he was, decided to move away from the strong mechanical curriculum that was a standard at most Saudi government schools. Instead of the usually "copy page 5 and memorize list 3" homework we were used to, he opted to give us an optional extra credit research assignment (a radical concept in a school ranked 347th the Saudi educational system). He assigned each one of us a renowned historical artist and told us to do a 3 page research paper about our assigned artist. I was assigned Picasso among all else. Later that day after returning home, I found the only computer in the house empty. I ran to the computer and thought I might as well do the assignment seeing as I had nothing better to do. And so I did a quick Google search of the artist's name. I pressed on the first link and had my first encounter with what would be the most influential world of my young life. During that day I entered the wonderland that is Wikipedia. I first began by skimming through the page looking for facts about Picasso, but after a while I genuinely started being interested in his life. After I was done I found links under a section labeled "See also" and so I clicked on it as well. Hours later I was on the Wikipedia page of World War 2. Timed had completely passed by. I couldn't stop myself from clicking on link after link. I needed to know everything about the thing I had just read so I would read everything about anything related to it. By the end I had completely forgotten about the assignment that started what seemed to be a Wikipedia blackout. That day started a pattern. A pattern of addiction; Wikipedia had become my extacy. Day after day I would spend hours upon hours on it, I would start out with broad topics such as The US Civil war and end up on a page about The Gracchus Brothers. Coming from a modest background and a government school, there weren't really any extracurricular activities or clubs after school, the nearest library was 20 miles away and only accessible by car. A lot of kids my age would simply lounge around at home or go to car shows, but most would hang around outside aimlessly doing nothing (which often would lead to more serious problems). Wikipedia saved from all that, it gave me something to invest my free time in. It quenched my thirst for knowledge and sparked my passion for writing. It opened my eyes to new perspectives and ideas. It helped develop my love of history and science. It even helped me in my interview for a prestigious research program, where the interviewer was surprised by my knowledge of the US Navy and Air force (how we came about the topic is an essay of its own). Indeed if there were ever one thing I owed my future to it would be the Eiffel Tower that stands tall behind me.



Life-Changing Experience Accepted: Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon

The room was packed to the roof; everyone from the Minister of Education, to the Prince of Riyadh had attended that night. One by one they announced the winners. And suddenly, exuberance filled my heart. I had heard my name. As I moved across the aisles and made my way down the stairs to get my prize, time had completely frozen. Finally, I thought, after months of hard work, painful revision and rewriting, I had done it; I had worked my way to The International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF); or so I thought, out of the six places that had been awarded that day, only the first five were to participate at the international stage. The goal I had been working towards for an entire year had now vanished. A sudden feeling overtook me, a cold and dark feeling of impotence. The fall made worse by the rise. I just had my first real experience with failure. As soon as I reached my room, I was in an immutable state of self-examination. I went over every detail; I had asked myself every question. Why did I fail? What could I have done better, or more of? And with these questions came an answer that altered my very outlook on my way of life. Looking back, I sometimes categorize my attitude towards work, and indeed my whole work ethic, into two periods, PreISEF and Post-ISEF. In my Pre-ISEF phase, everything seemed easy, everything in close reach. I could get phenomenal grades without much hard work. I was awarded prizes and awards without having to use the full capacity of my work. It is not as if I didn’t work hard; many grueling nights were spent on writing papers, doing assignments and studying for tests. However I never had to give it my all to complete them. I never had to exhaust myself for them; and therefore I grew arrogant. My arrogance had made me careless. It tricked me into thinking that I needed not push myself to the very ends of my limit. It had laid upon me a misleading veil that impaired my vision. It made it seem as if everything I wanted in life, everything I aspire for, would simply present itself to me on a silver platter. However, on that night everything changed. The veil that had been covering my eyes lifted. I knew the reasons for my failures. A bright realization illuminated my future. From that point on; I had to push myself to the limit in everything I do. After that my devotion to my goals knew no bounds. No longer would I be satisfied by anything less than my complete potential. The ways of the past were now engulfed by the fires of resolution. “Never again” I promised myself, “Never again, will I wonder what would’ve happened had I given it my all.” That one realization profoundly affected the way I thought of my future. Following the events of ISEF, I experienced a surge of energy that I used overcome the single most important challenge in a Saudi student’s education; The National Achievement Test (an exam that tests students on high school level math, physics, chemistry, biology and English). This new found energy fueled my drive for the excellence and through it I was able to score in the top 0.1 percent of Saudi students. Due to the events of ISEF I was able to my better myself academically in such a way that I had reached the extent of my goals. I was able to ensure multiple scholarships from various institutions due to my high academic standing. I had now reached heights I never thought possible, heights I would’ve never able to reach had it not been for the questions I asked of myself all those many nights ago. That one night opened the flood gates of opportunity for me, opportunities that I never imagined possible. What was initially a devastating failure, ended up being one of the most significant and positive life-changing events in my life.



Self-Identity Accepted: Columbia, University of Southern California Waitlisted: University of Pennsylvania, Washington University St. Lois, University of Michigan Ann Arbor

Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. 2001 I reached my playroom expecting a greeting from my comrades. "Wait something is wrong! I cannot find any of my toys!" I stutteringly said. I searched every inch of my house looking for my lost friends without any luck. My eyes were filled with tears as I found out that my mother had donated all of my toys. I asked her “Why?� She responded with a smile on her face, "You won't understand, but it's time to grow up." In the following days, I couldn't find anything interesting to do. My siblings were too busy to play with me, I found TV to be unengaging and I couldn't explore outside because my neighborhood was dangerous. I asked my eldest brother, "What should I do?" He answered, "I know just the right thing," as he showed me his giant bookshelf with over 500 novels. He said, "The bookshelf is yours." On that day, my love affair with the old ink and dusty paper began. At first I started skimming through the novels but after a while I became genuinely interested in reading them. I couldn't stop myself from devouring their words on the commute from and to school, in the five minutes break between classes and even in the restroom. I became addicted, and I completely forgot my toys. 2013 I look into my bookshelf trying to decide which books should accompany me on my quest for knowledge in the states. From Alchemy to Quarks grabs my attention for it lies first in my science collection. It is the spark that flamed my constant hunger for science. Its pages took me on an odyssey that started with the humble beginnings of the Greeks to renaissance of Newton and ended with the infinite wonders of the quantum world. Each new page made me see how science drastically changed our lives. Science is everywhere from the tiny particles that define me to the giant stars that light our sky. After many long conversations with my book, I decided to fully embrace science with my pursuit of engineering. My journey with science seems endless as I start a new conversation with each new page of my science collection. Sandwiched between my science books lies The Cather in the Rye, The story that initiated my strong need for humanities underneath my scientific endeavors for literature colors my life. I felt soothed by every word that Holden Caulfield spoke to me because I realized that I wasn't the only one who went through the loss of loved ones and broken childhood dreams. His words resonated in my mind as I grew up and began to found solace in my past struggles with stuttering. Finally, Cocktail, one of the first book series I read stands on top of my bookshelf. It seized me with its unique stories written by both amateurs and professionals. It touches on diverse topics that range from simple teenage issues to deep philosophical inquiries. It reminds of my own unique mixture from my look that gave me the nickname "Mohammad the Russian" to my Afghan and Persian backgrounds and my experience living in Saudi Arabia. Its diverse characters are embedded in my love for House Music, Greek Mythology and Japanese History. However, the deep questions that Cocktail dealt with were what really impacted me to dive deep into religion, history and mythology. DISCLAIMER: DO NOT USE THESE ESSAYS AS YOUR OWN. SUCH ACT IS CONSIDERED PLAGIARISM AND CAN LEAD TO CHARGES.


As I look into my bookshelf, I realize that each book in my collection is a major part of me. In many ways, these books mirror my own journey through life from science, mystery and tough love. At that moment, I finally understood the motive behind my mother's action. 2025 "Your children have been wasting their time. You should take away their toys," says my mother. I respond with a smile on my face, "I might think about it."



Multiple Prompts Accepted: Johns Hopkins, Duke, University of Pennsylvania, Georgia Tech

Why did you choose a major the way you did? If you are undecided, why didn't you choose? “...$15.99, shipping and handling not included.” Although not entirely aware of the value of a dollar at the young age of seven, I was certain that if I had this overpriced, dinosaur-shaped piggy bank, I would learn just how much a “Washington” was worth. With the suave of a salesman, I pitched the deal to my mother, emphasizing how revolutionary it was that this dinosaur actually “ate” money. Despite it seeming too good to pass, my mother refused to buy one and suggested I build my own money-munching dinosaur. Armed with tape, cardboard, toilet paper rolls, and spools of thread, I emerged hours later with my dinosaur. Through a pair of pulleys in its abdomen, it opened its jaws when you pulled its tail. Unaware of the scientific principles behind it at the time, I still made it work through trial and error. Although enthralled with the puzzles that engineering presented, I wasn’t interested in manipulating it solely in terms of mechanics. As I matured and became familiar with biology and the concept of engineering, I realized that I wanted to apply the problem-solving strategies of engineering to biological systems. Digging deeper into the field of bioengineering, I felt that it was the hybrid of fields that I sought. As my browser’s “favorites bar” became crowded with various research journals, and I began to conduct research of my own at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital, the field of bioengineering lived to my expectations, and my work presented a refreshingly enjoyable challenge. Write a brief description about your research experience in 1-2 paragraphs. My first foray into scientific research was during the summer of 2010, when I investigated the craniofacial genetics of zebrafish at the Yelick Lab of Tufts University’s School of Dental Medicine as part of the Research Science Institute. Throughout the six weeks of the program, I learned about the scientific method, advanced statistical analysis, and how to prepare an effective presentation. By working in the lab for nearly 40 hours a week, I acquired skills in fish husbandry and in-situ hybridization, and a deep understanding of the genetic properties of zebrafish and their role as a model organism. Most importantly, however, I gained a set of fundamental lab skills essential to work in any type of biological laboratory; processes such as running gels, extracting DNA, and using a microscope efficiently and accurately became second nature. Inspired by my summer experience, I searched for an opportunity to apply my newly acquired skills back home. With the support of the King Abdulaziz Foundation for the Gifted, I proposed a project to the biomedical physics department of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center (KFSHRC), in which I would investigate the involvement of TP53 codon G72C polymorphism in genetic predisposition to cervical cancer in Saudi women. Under the auspices of Dr. Ghazi Al-Sbeih, I spent nearly six months at the lab learning about population genetics, bioinformatics, and gained the valuable experience of maintaining a workload and responsibility equal to that of the professional members of the lab team. My duties at the lab can be summarized as the following: extracting DNA from blood samples, preparing the samples for sequencing by polymerase chain reaction, and analyzing the resulting data for statistical significance using the SeqMan software suite.



Considering both the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying and the unique aspects of the University of Pennsylvania, what do you hope to learn from and contribute to the Penn community? As a King Abdullah University for Science and Technology Gifted Student Program (KGSP) scholar, I’ve had the privilege of attending the English Language Program (ELP) at Penn for the past year. Throughout this experience, the university has been a welcoming beacon of learning for me, and I’ve come to acknowledge and appreciate the quirks of Penn that make me feel at home as both a member of the community and an aspiring bioengineer. Although there are shorter routes from Fisher-Bennett Hall to my residence at International House, I occasionally prefer to take the long way through Locust Walk. Whenever I do, the student community never ceases to inspire. Whether it’s a couple of students rallying to boycott Durban III, a makeshift gym erected in front of Van Pelt, or a boombox simply inviting people to dance, the unique breadth of interests in a single community is something I consider a defining factor of Penn’s identity. As a student at Penn, I hope to not only further my personal growth by experiencing this wide range of interests, but to be a part of the cultural “machine” present on campus, too. In a machine, each cog transfers energy within the system. Having already begun my career as a genetic researcher, I hope to invest the energy from the cogs connected to me in enhancing my perspective as a scientist. By focusing my different experiences into my work, I can optimize my output by producing research that solidifies Penn’s position as a leader within the field of bioengineering. Consequently, my motion as an energy-efficient cog will provide other cogs with the energy, insight, and experience to optimize their own outputs. I believe that, in a knowledge machine like Penn, it’s imperative that, at the end of the day, the machine’s energy output meets or exceeds the input. Driven by a keen interest in gene therapy, my passion allows me to defy the law of physics that states “energy cannot be created”, and add my personal boost of energy to the system of excellence at Penn.

Why are you interested in attending Georgia Tech, and what do you hope to contribute to our community? When deciding which colleges to apply to, my most important criterion was how well my aspirations fell in line with those of the college. As I browsed the Georgia Tech website, I found myself intrigued by the diverse student body, and the unique programs the college had to offer, such as a minor in leadership studies. One theme, however, struck me as intrinsic to Georgia Tech’s identity, as well as mine: Dedication to excellence in scientific research. Reading about the bioengineering department at Georgia Tech, Prof. Michelle LaPlaca’s advancements in neural tissue engineering especially interested me. As part of a student body as diverse as Georgia Tech’s, I believe that my identity as a third-culture kid (TCK) grants me the unique ability to bridge cultural differences and the resulting gaps in communication.By encouraging the expression of different cultures, I can contribute to fostering a community in which students can enjoy the differences between them.



MIT Essays We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do for the pleasure of it. Commonly taken for granted, sidewalks are my favorite part of Philadelphia. Coming from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a place where everyone drives to everywhere, the idea of fueling my feet (and consequently, my human experience) instead of my car is fascinating. On my leisurely strolls, the beauty of the public captures my eye, and the sense of discovery is a thrill like no other. The serendipity of attending a public wedding in the middle of the street, meeting an Arabic language professor, and encountering a street performer who can play R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” brilliantly -all in one day- is something very few other hobbies can afford. Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? Throughout my life, I’ve enjoyed all kinds of puzzles. As my educational background developed, I identified engineering as a framework for solving conundrums. Being passionate about biology, bioengineering seems to be an ideal hybrid of my interests, and an outlet for my interest in gene therapy. By studying bioengineering at MIT, I believe I can channel that enthusiasm towards serving the world through an education that distinctly emphasizes the practical application of intellectual vitality. With its amalgam of peerless academic excellence and collaborative sense of us all “being in this together”, MIT feels an ideal fit to further my scientific and personal growth. Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? Gold, real estate and stock options are “big return” investments in Saudi Arabia. My parents and the Saudi government, however, have taken a different approach: investing in me. The first part of this investment came in the form of my family’s home library. An extensive collection ranging in topic from mummies to the poetry of Imro’ Al-Qays, this library allowed me to explore my interest in biology. Coupled with societal pressure, the narrow range of college majors available in Saudi Arabia molded that interest into a desire to study medicine. A product of the government’s investments, I’ve been given the opportunity to experience biomedical research, advanced math and physics, and international competitions and programs. Throughout these varied experiences, I’ve found that, although initially influenced by society, my interest in the intricacy of the human body is sincere; I just seek a combination of that and the unique sense of creativity and mental agility engineering evokes in me. My varied interests and experiences all point to one field: bioengineering. Unavailable as an undergraduate degree in Saudi Arabia, the dream of studying bioengineering seemed unattainable. Taking its investment to the next level, the government enabled me to study abroad through the KAUST Gifted Student Program (KGSP). Lectures at the scholarship orientation alerted me to the massive resources available to me as a KAUST scholar and a Saudi, and the need for youth with the foresight and passion to turn these resources into innovations—a need that has inspired me to lead the biomedical industry in the region towards becoming an active player in global health and




Columbia Supplement

Briefly describe which single activity listed in the Activity section of your Common Application represents your most meaningful commitment and why. The action is easy: keep turning the pedal. The premise is simple: stop at the red-light, catch some breath, bike at the green-light. I find commuting by bike to be the most rewarding activity I do on a daily basis. As my body tries its best to balance according to the laws of Physics, my eyes are set loose to gaze upon the beauty of my surroundings. While my legs are slowly feeling lactic acid, my imagination starts to wander around free from the burden of writing college application essays, doing homework and worrying about future endeavors. With each new revolution I take, stress is slowly evaporating with my sweat. My breath and heartbeat are aligned to a unified rhythm of motion. As I see the red-light, I stop for a moment to set my mind straight, but I bike one more when I see the green-light. Please tell us what you found meaningful about one of the above mentioned books, publications or cultural events. Dear Columbia, It is my worst fear: the college essay. These 300 words proved to be the bane of my existence for I knew that without the perfect essay my attempts of gaining your love will certainly fail. I tried my best to write about my favorite books, movies and events, yet none of my essays screamed "Pick me! Pick me!" Frustrated at my failed attempts, I fled to Youtube trying to clear my mind. I started watching John Green's Crash Course US History. With the first minute, My mind was hooked. I dived deep into the American Revolution, the New Deal and the Civil Rights Movement. I couldn't stop myself from devouring all of the episodes. My old passion for history was rejuvenated as I remembered the days when I would finish my history book from the first day of school With each word that John Green spoke to me, I was able to get a window into the lives of Thomas Jefferson, FDR and George Washington. I felt surprised by how Jefferson's ideas of the perfect society were hindered by his own actions. Seeing how these great men were able to change the world without any technical advancements fostered my dream of using science to improve our lives. As I was nearing the end, I realized why I love history. It is a combination of science, economics and humanities. It made me see that the actions of our fathers will always haunt our present endeavors as evident in the current issues in the Middle East. Their positive and negative acts shape who we are today. The past is the flame that will guide our present to a better future. In the end, It is funny how your question strengthened my passion for history dear Columbia. Best, XXXXXXXX Please tell us what you find most appealing about Columbia and why. A letter meant to be sent near my graduation from Columbia University Dear Columbia, I admit that I've completely fallen in love with you. DISCLAIMER: DO NOT USE THESE ESSAYS AS YOUR OWN. SUCH ACT IS CONSIDERED PLAGIARISM AND CAN LEAD TO CHARGES.


It all started at the time I was searching for someone who would put my education above everything else. I sought acceptance everywhere, but none seemed to hold the right key; something was missing. I was missing something that only you could provide with your great research opportunities, focus on liberal education, and great social experience. Gaining your acceptance was one of the happiest days of my life for you looked beyond my Arabic demeanor and modest educational background. I did not hesitate one second to accept your warm invitation because you were the outlet that would power my journey through life. During the four years I spent with you my love, I grew not only as an engineer but also as a human being. As I walk through New York, I remember how you opened my eyes to new perspectives in our Core curriculum. Your artistic manner led me to see that I needed to brush my engineering with the colors of art. My minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation inspired to seek new challenges. You motivated me to join the Engineers Without Borders program where I found many friends in your internationally diverse student body. Time is running out, my love. Soon I will be starting my postgraduate at KAUST where I will always remember our long dates doing ground breaking research. I will never forget that one sweet night we spent smiling at each other during the Summer Research Symposium. This came after we successfully finished our project entitled "Novel nano-sensors for medical applications" where we worked under Dr. Ken Shepard in our Bioelectronics System Lab. Love, XXXXXXXX Your class of 2018 For applicants to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Member Questions section. (300 words or less) Dear Columbia, My journey toward you started when my dad brought me a Lego NXT kit while I was participating in robotic competitions. I felt a great level of enthusiasm as I was engineering my own wacky designs. I discovered the importance of physics when I began to take into account the design and efficiency of my robots. I dived deep into programming as I saw how a simple line of command gave life to my creations. At that time, I decided to pursue Electrical Engineering for it combined both my passion for Physics and my interest in Computer Science. I started with what seemed like tiny steps, yet my endeavors were leading me closer to you with each passing day. My Electrical Engineering lab kit sparked my curiosity with questions like "Why is my circuit not working?" and "Why is my circuit working?" For each one of my questions, a logical answer was waiting to be discovered. My projects grew from tiny game show buzzers to intricate systems that can be used to calculate the optimum amount of sunlight for a plant. My adventure took a new turn when I started doing research at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) where I worked on creating a land-mine detecting using flexible electronics. The level of control I had over my environment took me by surprise. I manipulated the shape of my antenna, the number of conducting silver nano iparticles on the circuit surface and the way the system interacted with its surroundings. With a touch of button, I simulated how my design would perform. I believed EE will be the wave that I would ride toward a better future. My hopes of riding the wave of change finally led me to you my dear. Love, XXXXXXXXX



University of California Essay Between Two World: The World I Come From Accepted: UC Berkeley, UC San Diego

The seat belt sign was now off. “We’re home again” my mother whispered to me. After four long years in the States, I was now finally rejoined with my beloved homeland. Growing up I have always seen myself as a product of two distinct worlds; Arabia and America. Although you might not think it at first due to my Bedouin demeanor and way of speech, a large part of who I am today is a direct result of those years in the “west”. My love of reading and writing about Greek mythology and my passion for tribal dance and rituals are only a few of the many things I feel blessed with as a child of both worlds. These two worlds bestowed upon me contrasting interests and views like my love of Bedouin history and American politics, and my enjoyment of both traditional Arabian poetry and standup comedy interests that have garnered me the nickname “The American Bedouin”. But of the many of things that I gained out of those years, one would be the most influential; perspective. One such perspective I feel was most affected by my dual background is education. As time passed I felt more and more that the I belong to a society which views education as only a means to an end and a life of luxury as the undisputed end of all means. I always felt that my time in the States bestowed upon me a certain perspective on education. That this perspective allowed me to escape the grasps of indoctrination entrapped so many of before me. I was able to see education as it truly was; an end in and of itself. It made my aspirations detached from material gains. Education for me is not some bridge to luxury, nor is it an obligation I feel I must uphold. Education for me is gaining the methods, the skills and the experiences I need to help achieve my goals. It is above all the path that I hope will lead me to my ultimate aim, an aim of knowing that I had a life well spent, that will not be forgotten after the ash settles. The knowledge that I was able to achieve something of worth is what I hope this yellow brick road will eventually lead me to.



University of California Inspired By the Past: The World I Come From Accepted: UC Berkeley, UCSD

The sky was very dark, except for the moon and stars that decorated its edges like lights on a Christmas tree. Away from the city's dense pollution, everything could not have been more perfect to use my telescope for the first time. The telescope was a gift from my parents. They wanted me, a third grader, to learn about celestial objects. What better way to figure out cardinal directions than lowering the legs of the tripod and pointing the instrument skywards? As well as being used for stargazing, the telescope enabled me to examine my ancestors' work and appreciate it. For instance, I found out that Al-Biruni, an Arabic scientist from the tenth century, not only learned about astronomy as I did, but also developed new methods to study astronomical objects and their relation to place and time. As time went by, I gained more recognition of my ancestors' contributions. For example, when I was in 7th grade, my mother wanted me to become a doctor, so I took a course on medicine to know more about this intriguing field. During a field trip to a hospital, I found out that Al-Zahrwai, one of my ancestors, not only studied medicine, but also developed in excess of 200 surgical instruments by the 10th century. When I was in 9th grade I began working on robots, different models, assembling in accordance to physical laws, and programming in a wide-variety of computer languages. At that time, I found out that the first robot was built by Al-Jazari, one of my antecedents, in the 13th century. I am strongly motivated by my ancestors; since they have achieved so much with scarce resources, they have proved to me that I am capable of doing anything. I have worked hard throughout my life for two main reasons: firstly, I would like to inspire my descendants to achieve high levels of success, the same way my ancestors have inspired me; secondly, I want to employ my passion for material and computer sciences via modeling and researching to come up with new materials that are a better fit for the world's modern needs. I strive to build better houses, design more efficient solar panels and make phones lighter and faster. My desire to learn is what pushed me to leave Saudi Arabia and to come to the United States, for a first-rate higher education that will help me push beyond the boundaries of my ancestors' knowledge. I started my journey in the U.S. by overcoming the language obstacle. I am currently in the process of overcoming my second obstacle, which is getting into the University of California, so I can acquire the requisite knowledge to surpass my ancestors.



University of California Hajj: An Experience That Relates to Who I Am As a Person Accepted: UC Berkeley, UCSD

It was shockingly crowded here, why wouldn't it be? Three million people from all over the world were here. They all came to perform Hajj (pilgrimage), a Muslims ritual that is similar to Buddhism's, Hinduism's, and Christianity's pilgrimages. A kid passed by me and asked his father: "Dad, why are there young cops in here?" His dad replied: "they are not cops; they are scouts, and they are here to ease the Hajj for us." The kid ran over to me and said: "Thank you for doing this, but why are you doing this?" I spontaneously told him that I wanted to help people. He told me: "I would like to do as you do." The kid left, and I have not seen him since, but he made me think; how did I get here, and why I am doing this? I knew how tiring it is to perform Hajj, a ritual of five consecutive days that includes demanding physical effort. I can almost see how it was when I first performed Hajj. White-clothed people are everywhere. People's shoulders barge into one another. A child who had lost his home in war exults. People speak languages I have never heard before. And the list goes on. My astonishment was indescribable when I first found out that my country hosts approximately three million people each year, and helps them to perform Hajj. I felt guilty that I had not done anything to aid the pilgrims. Right then, I made up my mind that as soon as I got into high school, I would sign up for the scouts program to participate in Hajj, and I did. My hard work paid off as I became qualified to participate in a Hajj organizing mission. I counted the days, eagerly waiting for Hajj season to come. When it came, I was genuinely excited about what I would be doing. I went to Mecca and started working. Although it was an exhausting experience, I performed my role happily, knowing that I was contributing to a greater cause. We helped plenty of people, many of whom could not speak either Arabic or English. I remember spending quadruple the average time walking as a guide for an old couple to help them find their accommodation, for they only spoke Farsi. That day, I realized that in order to be able to effectively communicate with different types of people; I would have to learn several languages. So I set a goal of learning seven languages. I am currently fluent in Arabic and English, and in the process of learning Spanish. The experience completely changed me. Being able to witness old people who could barely move travel to perform the Hajj made me realize that one's abilities are limitless. Seeing smiling children whose homes have been destroyed in wars made me realize that nothing can stop us from appreciating life. Not being able to communicate to someone made me understand the importance of becoming multilingual. Finally, I am just glad to have had the opportunity to be a part of this unique experience. It is part of me now, a part that I hope will be replicated elsewhere, perhaps in that kid I met earlier, who wanted to do 'as I do'.







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