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Sliding in a zigzag pattern down the slope, I descend the mountain. Halfway down the trail, I reach a small terrain park. Below me lay a number of jumps and grind boxes. Seeing nobody below me, I push off toward the first jump. Snowflakes bash themselves against my face, but I barely feel them because of the numbing cold. The first jump comes. I launch myself into the air and hang above the snow for a few moments. Finally coming back to earth, my skis thud onto the packed snow. My knees collapse, both skis pop off, and I hurl unrestrained into the nearby grind box.
One snowmobile ride and three x-rays later, I discover I have cleaved off three of my vertebra processes. Before my accident, when people asked me about my plans for the future, my answers would range anywhere from concert violinist to U.S. Marine depending on the day of the week. However, since my accident I have a new, more-focused area of interest: engineering. I feel extremely fortunate to have maintained full mobility throughout my body. One centimeter to the right, and it could have meant the end of high school soccer and tennis, or perhaps instead of volunteering at a special needs program, I could have been the one enrolled in one. Even my ability to perform music could have suffered.
Although I was exceedingly lucky, many others cannot claim the same outcome. Unable to perform simple tasks without major assistance, the growing population of paraplegics requires constant care in order to maintain some semblance of their old lifestyle. Engineering provides not only paraplegics but all individuals with treatments and rehabilitations needed for recovery. It provides developments such as prosthetics and drugs that stimulate nerve cell recognition. This idea of providing innovative technologies and advancements in scientific research intrigues me. I find myself gravitating towards the field of engineering.
Although my ski mishap points me in the direction of engineering, other reasons also influence my choice of study. As early as my elementary school science projects and my childhood adventures with Legos, I harbored an interest in solving problems through design and application using math and science tools. Applying my skills in the study of engineering allows me to design and apply new technologies that will help solve the problems of individuals in need.
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