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Name: Stephanie L.

Hometown: Palo Alto, CA

Anticipated Major: English, History

How did you discover Hopkins and why did you decide to apply Early Decision? I’d always known JHU was a university since I was a kid, but it wasn’t until my parents and college counselor brought up the school sometime in May that I had started really looking more into the school. I wanted to go to a school that was big enough that I would constantly be meeting new people, but not so big that my professors wouldn’t get to personally know me. I wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t in a sprawling metropolis, but also somewhere that wasn’t rural or suburban. I tend to like bigger cities, but nothing overcrowded and perpetually busy. I change my mind a LOT, so I knew I wanted to go somewhere where I could be able to flip flop between majors for two years before settling on one (or multiple — being the indecisive overachiever I am, one could catch me triple majoring or triple minoring). I also wanted to conduct my own research and wanted to attend a university with a large research so I could get the resources I needed. Johns Hopkins met those criteria. To be fair, so did a few other schools, but when I visited Johns Hopkins, I ended up loving JHU the best.

What’s your best piece of college search advice for high school students? In a time where many students are encouraged to apply to as many schools as they can, it’s important to remember that your quality of your essays are more important than the quantity of them. Research all your schools thoroughly! Once you make a choice to apply to a school (not just ED) you know you’d be happy there, and you truly want to go. At one point over the summer, I had about ten schools I wanted to ED to (I almost didn’t want to ED at that point). I narrowed my school list down to five, vacillated between all of them, and finally decided on Hopkins when I visited. I knew a LOT about all the five schools I wanted to ED to, but I knew I would be happiest at Hopkins. I loved the school the moment I set foot on campus, and I knew with certainty that if I were to ED here, I would be making the right choice. If I hadn’t researched all the schools on my list, I might’ve just picked one I wouldn’t be happy at. So know the schools you’re applying to!

What fictional character (Hermione Granger, Holden Caulfield, etc.) do you most relate to or most closely represents you as a person? Although I’m not a member of the LGBTQ community, Callie Pax, the protagonist of Diana Son’s 1999 play “Stop Kiss”, is a literary embodiment of the type of person I am. Callie’s headstrong and confident demeanor is a mirage; she chooses to avoid her problems instead of facing them outright. She hates conflict and would rather settle for unjust treatment than to fight for what’s right. I used to be the type of person who would never stand up for herself, who would let myself get bullied around and not speak up about it. However, throughout the play, Callie slowly gains confidence—in herself and in her voice—and begins to speak up for herself. After joining Verde, my features magazine, and my school’s speech and debate team, I struggled with finding courage within myself to talk among the upperclassmen—I was intimidated by their intellect and their ease with articulation. It took many tries throughout the four years of high school (and I still struggle today) to learn how to speak up. Yet I am happy to say I, like Callie, have slowly learned how to speak for not only myself but also others without a voice.

What book, album/song, or TV show has had a profound influence on your life? F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, because it was the first realistic book about pursuing your dreams and letting go of the past I had ever read.

What do you hope to get involved in on campus? I’m very excited for mock trial and theater in high school. I do interpretive speech in high school, which is essentially the same thing as competitive acting—you cut a 10 minute monologue from a published source and interpret it in front of a judge. I love acting, and I’m planning to continue it at Hopkins. Since Hopkins doesn’t have a speech team, I’ve looked into the Hopkins Mock Trial team and the Barnstormers, Hopkin’s student theater group. My speech coach is a member of the Stanford team, and he gushes about mock trial a lot. I began to explore the Hopkins team, and to my utter happiness, I found it to be very similar to speech in the sense that they’re both competitive acting at tournaments. I’ve always wanted to do musical theater since I was in middle school, but since I didn’t have time to do speech AND theater in high school, I had to pick one over the other. However, since my speech career ends in high school, I’ll have the opportunity to give theater a shot!