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Name: Jonah Kasdan

Year: Class of 2020

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Intended Path of Study: International Studies and GECS

From that Moment Forward

I’ve always wanted to hear “from that moment forward” advice.

You know the scene – a student sits in lecture when, all the sudden, the professor drops a knowledge-bomb of life altering mega-tonnage. “Do or do not. There is no try,” “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” “The only way to see a rainbow is to look through the rain.” Then, from that moment forward, the student repeats that drawn-out mantra to him or herself whenever the going gets tough, and thanks to the professor’s wisdom, ends up getting the girl, or guy, or winning states, or getting that scholarship.

I’m looking at you, Good Will Hunting

I’m looking at you, Good Will Hunting

Little did I know that my “from that moment forward” advice would come and go without my noticing until months later. In fact, when my advice came, I thought it was just silly.

“I think you should consider Johns Hopkins.”

Johns Hopkins?

I might as well have been told to write my admissions essay in Urdu. It wasn’t that I thought negatively of Hopkins—I just never thought about Hopkins, period. Before my guidance counselor tossed that suggestion my way, Hopkins was just that place with the really good medical program and hospital—I’m not even sure that I knew it was a four-year undergraduate university.

Yet somehow my advisor knew that Hopkins would be a great fit for me, and in hindsight, it should have been an obvious choice. A mid-sized top-ten university with a renowned international studies program in close proximity to Washington D.C.—it was crazy that I hadn’t considered it earlier! As obvious a fit as Hopkins seems to me now, though, it struck me as thoroughly random at the time. Up to that point, I had been set on a succession of “dream schools,” and even applied early to an Ivy League university whose moniker bears a striking resemblance to a leafy-green super food.

Yeah, something like that...

Yeah, something like that…

That being said, my guidance counselor had never led me astray up to that point, so I figured I’d follow through on her advice and apply. Besides, I was already applying to ten schools, so I figured one extra couldn’t hurt (yes, I was that kid). I went through the customary motions of applying—add the school to my common app, fill out the short answer questions, write an essay or two—yet I still never really considered that I could potentially spend four years of my life there. I even remember saying to my mom, in what can only be described as delicious irony, “I don’t know why I’m applying to Hopkins—I’m never going to go there.”

As you can imagine, it’s been very hard to type his with my foot in my mouth.

The first crack in my façade of Hopkins-incredulity came the moment I received my acceptance. I was sitting in a Middle East politics class on a spring Friday– the passing sun carrying the familiar sense of restiveness and excitement in tow as it streaked towards the weekend. As the clock inched towards twelve, a somewhat unexpected—yet not entirely strange—feeling of anticipation began to bubble in my stomach. At the stroke of noon, I opened my computer as covertly as I could (the teacher loosely enforced a no- laptop rule for the class) and accessed my admissions decision—an acceptance! My own excitement surprised me, but even more surprising was the excitement of my classmates. Much to the chagrin of my teacher, my friend in the desk next to me gave me a hug and slapped my chest; the one behind me ruffled my hair.

“Is something going on there that I should know about? Do you have to go take a break outside?”

“No, you don’t understand, Jonah just got into Hopkins!”

A boisterous cheer erupted from my classmates, my teacher’s demeanor softened only infinitesimally, and I found myself repeating my friend’s words—“I got into Hopkins!”

Not too shabby, huh?

Not too shabby, huh?

There was no advice, but hearing my friend’s words constituted another, “From that moment forward” moment. Perhaps those words pierced through some wall of vanity that I had built around myself; Hopkins never jumped out at me, and I assumed the same went for others—but my friends’ amazement and happiness for me proved otherwise. Perhaps they merely crystalized a number of Hopkins’ disparate facets—its excellent location (in my opinion) on the East Coast near Washington D.C, its beautiful campus (urban, yet secluded and verdant), its top-notch education and spirit of academic ambition. Since then, I’d gotten the same enthusiastic reaction whenever I tell anyone tell anyone where I’m headed.

Whatever the reason, from that moment forward, I took Hopkins more seriously. I did research on college forums, scoured the school’s website, and read articles about Hopkins whenever I came across them. The more I learned, the more I felt that I wanted to go to Hopkins above any vegetable-sounding Ivy League school. My visit to Hopkins later that month only confirmed my feeling, and just like that—somewhat unbelievably—I was a Blue Jay.

It’s crazy how so few words can change so much without you even noticing.