Common App Additional Info (Extenuating Circumstances)
My parents emigrated from Korea to the US and ran a Dairy Queen business in Florida, which unfortunately ended in bankruptcy as breakdowns in expensive equipment were too expensive to repair. After filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy and being evicted from our home, we stayed in our grandparent’s house for a while, before moving the 8,000 miles to Guam for my father to take a job teaching golf at the Leopalace Resort. My father began to receive delayed payments, and with the employer attempting to run off with my father’s last paycheck, he was laid off – this put an immense amount of pressure on my family and were particularly hard times. The stress of this particularly affected my mother, who was told by doctors she was “days away” from a heart attack during this time. Medical insurance was too expensive, so, to this day, she continues to commute every day to her job taking complaints at a hotel. I truly love her so I have made it my personal mission to help her in any way I can – preparing healthy meals, exercising together and caring for her. Since 6th grade, I have taken full responsibility of healthy meal planning, buying groceries, and preparing meals. I have loved scientific research since the 8th grade storing chemicals in kitchen cabinets and conducting experiments in my makeshift kitchen laboratory. In highschool, I moved out of my parent’s two-bedroom apartment and worked on independently designed research projects at the University of Guam for three consecutive years. I aspired to mitigate the effects of climate change wreaking havoc on our island. I see it first-hand, snorkelling over bleached coral reefs and living through barrages of supertyphoons. With a love for learning and undying resilience, I independently invented a patent-pending sustainable and paintable battery winning First Place and Best of Category at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Materials Science. I felt incredibly proud to represent my island and find innovation in a tiny lab in Guam. My three-year ongoing research project was done independently. I poured thousands of hours into my passion project, turning my kitchen into a laboratory and later moving into a university lab. My research and experimental results were vetted by materials companies/scientists who I cold emailed. I custom-built my own equipment, acquired thousands of dollars of free chemicals from materials companies, designed dozens of prototypes and synthesized thousands of material formulations, tweaking every possible parameter leading to the invention of a new patent pending material for “paintable” solutions towards clean energy and sustainable electronics. To pursue my passion for research, I always had to ask my friends for rides all the way to the university and used any money I had to take taxis to the university (lack of mobility is an issue with two working parents). I stayed at the laboratories from 4-9pm and often lacked money to buy dinner after paying for the taxi, so the Chemistry professor would often buy me food and the science fair organizer on Guam would give me money to print my posters for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and other all expense paid science conferences. I’m so grateful for my island community that has helped me out, amidst my background. I dream of pursuing a master’s in materials science and giving back to the outer islands of Micronesia through both scientific research and outreach. I look forward to pursuing my passions and giving back to my island that has given me so much.