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TMDSAS Optional Essay Sample

Prompt: Briefly discuss any unique circumstances or life experiences that are relevant to your application which have not previously been presented. (All applicants)

No one knows how they’ll handle an emergency until they’re thrust straight into a situation of their own. And since crises can be unpredictable, it’s hard to prepare for them ahead of time. I have been fortunate to know few emergency situations, and so I harbored a secret fear that I would not have what it takes to perform under pressure, to respond quickly or to be able to know what to do and take action if the need arose. That perception of myself changed during what came to be the worst Christmas I’ve ever experienced.

A friend of mine was in town visiting, and he came by my parents’ house for a pre-holiday celebration. As we caught up and shared stories, none of us could have anticipated the heart arrythmia my friend had suffered from his whole life would cause problems. Unknown to any of us, an infection had attached itself to the leads of my friend’s pacemaker, preventing it from doing its job and keeping his heart beating regularly. When the tell-tale symptoms worsened, the warning bells went off in my head. My friend became dizzy and out of breath. As he sat down on the floor, my mother holding his hand, I grabbed my phone and called 911. When my friend lost consciousness, I was at his side, still on the phone as I prepared to start CPR. As the paramedics came into my parents’ living room, I provided them as much information as I could remember, the pertinent details coming out without thinking. All I could focus on was helping my friend. It happened automatically.

My friend spent that Christmas in the hospital recovering from surgery, but he made a full recovery. His emergency became a pivotal moment for me. I’ve always had more faith in my knowledge, my hunger for learning, than in my ability to manage a crisis. But when my friend needed me, I didn’t hesitate or freeze or do any of the things I feared. His life was on the line, and even though he is a close friend, I was able to put that aside and do what needed to be done. It affirmed for me that even if I’m afraid or uncertain, when it really matters, I can take charge of myself and a high-pressure situation.

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