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Marcela R. '13

  • Course 1E
MIT student blogger Marcela R. '13


I can't remember a day without one moment – at least one – when I haven't stopped in my tracks and wondered what life would be like in an alternative universe. Not necessarily one with elves or aliens. One where I have different parents or a different heritage, one where I'm living in a developing country where I know about 2/3 of the world's human population lives, or grow up in a suburb instead of a city. Or what if I was born in a different time, simply living as a hunter gatherer at the end of the ice age? What if I was a tiger, or a mouse, or a fish, or a dolphin? What if I was in a completely different world?

No matter the scenario, I wonder: would I be the same person? Would I retain some of my identity through my journey of existence through those many worlds?

Half of my classmates from my high school existentialism class might say no, but I am out to prove them wrong.

My name is Marcela Rodriguez. I was born in New York City but am ethnically Puerto Rican. In my childhood I dreamed of running away and living with the Native Americans that hid deep in the forest and only took as much from nature as they needed to survive. When I was old enough to understand the impracticality of doing that in this day and age, I began focusing in on the life that I knew but with an eye out for escape. I took Tae Kwon Do over conventional sports and I went camping in places from North Carolina to Costa Rica. I took Japanese because I wanted to be able to talk to Hayao Miyazaki about how I loved the environmental messages in his animated films (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky!). I started an environmental club at my high school to improve recycling (um... BIG work in progress) and organize an Earth Day Festival.

And I left something out. Before doing the festival. Um... I applied to college.

Now, on that. Never in my youthful days did I even think about engineering. I fantasized about life without technology. I somehow survived for three weeks without my computer in Costa Rica. My long list included tons of liberal arts schools as well as some state schools. But it did not include MIT... until the middle of December. I looked at the site on a whim and was like, “My essays totally fit in these spaces!”

So that's how I applied. For the response about “having fun”... I watch Asian dramas. For a science invention or project I had done... I wrote about my failed Intel project to create a bioreactor to break down plastic that... never went beyond the planning stages. For the extra space that they gave for additional essays telling everyone about how I also somehow saved the world or won the Nobel Prize? I copy-pasted two chapters of my novel, the only ones written so far (the rest is in my head... X_X), practically in first or second draft form. And I pressed submit.

I think one reason I came here is because I was amazed that they would even let me in.

But the real reasons... would be the people. I'm surrounded by geniuses. And the opportunities. You can literally change the world from here.

This place is amazing. I can't wait to tell you about what this world that is called MIT is like!