This is the essay student Henry Weiss, graduate of the American School in Switzerland, submitted with his application to Loyola University New Orleans.
“Me enfila los cuchillos, porfavor,” I used to tell Don Rafael, the gardener. I asked him to sharpen the kitchen knives early in the morning before I left for Karate classes on Saturdays, so that upon my arrival the knives were ready. When he gave them back to me to give to Lucia, the cook, I would hide two of the sharp knives under the porch. I then waited impatiently for my dad to arrive from the farm with the fresh fruit that would later become my patients. As soon as I heard the gate, I would run down the stairs, say hello to my father, and pretend to help him unload the miniature papayas, melons, and lemons from the pick-up truck. I would store some of the fruit in the tool shed near the garden and leave it there, hoping the ants and other insects would find their way into the melons, and especially the papayas.
Every day, I checked their progress to see what symptoms the patients were presenting; I always hoped they would have a white mold infection, but that was not always the case. Eventually the fruit got to that point, but sometimes it took as much as two weeks to rot, especially in the dry season. Once my patients were in that state, I would then get a pair of gloves my grandmother used to spray and remove the dry leaves from the sensitive violets in the house and would then proceed to surgery. I started by making an incision in the overripe side of the papaya or melon and hoped a small worm or maggot would jump out. I would then carefully open the cut and spend hours examining the anatomy of my patient’s body, and would also remove all of the seeds, which I pretended were malignant tumors. My favorite part of surgery, however, was looking at the maggots enter on one side of the papaya and suddenly appear on another side as they traveled inside the “tissue.” Finally I would cut the maggots open and predict how large the fly would be and proceed to stitching.
Five years later, I really discovered that I loved looking at, exploring, and analyzing animate objects, hypothesizing different ideas for the causes of their state. In grade school, I remember all of my classmates getting excused from performing dissections in class, and instead they worked on other written assignments related to the subject. I was the only one who would stay after class with Ms. Paz dissecting frogs, owl pellets, piglets, bats, and even a cow’s heart. Now, in my last year of high school, the decomposition rate is not being tested on miniature papayas, but instead on a cow’s liver, where the differences of the growth rates of maggots in the cow liver when exposed to the sunlight and when not exposed to any light at all are being observed.
I hope to establish a strong foundation as an undergraduate science major so that I can continue on to more important, worthwhile investigations as a surgeon. I am eager to put my curiosity to a more important task than dissecting fruit!