On my first day in Baltimore, as I rode an Uber to the Homewood campus, the graffiti on the walls of red brick buildings passed before my eyes like a movie reel. My introduction to Hopkins was also through movies.  

When I was in my second year of high school, our visual arts teacher asked us to make a presentation about a director we liked. My favorite was Hopkins alum Wes Craven, known in the industry as the “Horror Genre Master” and especially for the “Scream” film series. Craven held a master’s degree in writing, and in an interview, he described how his story designs evolved in surprising ways thanks to the classes he took at Hopkins. 

I remember the moment when I first saw the Hopkins campus from Google images. I couldn’t help but think it was impossible for one’s imagination not to expand here. The campus was so beautiful, resembling the academies from the fantasy books I read when I was a child.

My curiosity about the university began during this period. While my high school life continued, just as Craven dedicated himself to horror movies, I dedicated myself to creating technologies and opportunities that would make life easier for visually impaired individuals. In this process, my path intersected again with Hopkins, known as the best in the field of health technologies. 

As someone with glaucoma and the potential risk of losing my vision without proper medication in the future, I’ve always wanted to conduct professional research on this subject. Hopkins was an amazing option as a research paradise for undergraduate students, especially in the field of health technologies.

Even as a computer science student, I recognized I would have access to the School of Medicine, which could greatly assist me in improving health services for visually impaired individuals. I was particularly excited about the prospect of developing vision loss treatments, health applications for the visually impaired, and imaging technologies for detecting eye diseases. 

Condensing my answer to the question “Why Hopkins?” into 300–400 words for my application essay worried me. In the end, I realized Hopkins was academically excellent and explaining my emotional motivation was essential. So, I scribbled the following words from my heart: 

“Growing up as a girl in Turkey, I never liked soccer. I thought it captivated all the men in my family and it was the reason why we never had family time on Sundays unless we were in a stadium cheering for my family’s favorite soccer team, Besiktas. As a kid, I knew all the fan songs by heart but never understood the excitement of staring at a game for 90 minutes, twenty-plus men chasing a ball and merely scoring a goal or two. Much later in life, I realized that soccer is not just a sport. It is about belonging to a community. Everyone is deeply touched by the feeling of unity, joy, acceptance, and love from fans all around the world. Also, they were trying to support their teams in the best way they could. It is like one family leaving behind the world’s conflicts and uniting with this sport to celebrate together. I wished that feeling radiated to the world. When I first saw the Hopkins campus, I felt that feeling again. I witnessed the open curriculum where students could begin taking courses for their majors from their first semester, professors looking for undergraduate students who could potentially help or contribute to research projects, and the enormous amount of autonomy that the university provides to students. But most importantly, I felt a sense of unity and belonging in its diverse community. And I understand, after all this time, what being a fan means. So, I want to bring the joy, knowledge, and support of Dila to Hopkins. I want to shout out my dreams in this wilderness where students and teachers I admire can challenge my brain. And I want to create a harmony that will change the world with the voices of other unique people’s dreams in Hopkins like a true fan.” 

I was very happy with the last version of my writing because, at the end of the day, there are excellent academics, well-equipped laboratories, and beautiful campuses in other schools (but of course not the lacrosse team). For me, what mattered was the values a school represented. And this school, where many students have worked tirelessly for the advancement of health technologies around the world, matched my sense of responsibility towards visually impaired individuals like a reflection in a mirror.  

Unfortunately, I had already lost hope because of the many rejection letters I received. This is why I remember March 17 vividly. To cheer me up, my friends took me to a concert by Teoman, one of the most famous singers in Turkey. While dancing, I completely forgot about my university rejections until I saw an email on my phone during the concert break: “You can view your Johns Hopkins University decision in your applicant portal.” My breath had never raced so fast, even while dancing all night. When I entered the application portal, I asked my friends not to record me, fearing I would receive another rejection letter. Then, I clicked on the screen and waited for my result and saw…