2nd Quarter, 2009
My name is Travis Alexander, and I was born and raised in Central Arkansas. I’m a sophomore at the University of Central Arkansas majoring in psychology. I love playing chess, poker, and traveling to new places.
A Portion of Travis’ Winning Essay:
My door to the future opened, and an interest in the sciences began at the age of five. At the time I was a student in Mrs. Lambert’s kindergarten class at Julia Lee Moore Elementary School in Conway, Arkansas. After school one day my mother took me over to a friend’s house while she went to a meeting. My friend and I decided that we would play in the sandbox in his backyard. I went with the conventional plastic shovel for my digging purposes, but he decided efficiency was more important, so he grabbed a garden hoe. I went over to the corner of the sandbox to start my digging expedition, but apparently I was not out of range of my friend’s garden hoe. Next thing I knew, I was being rushed to the emergency room with a significant head injury.
I was treated at Baptist Hospital in Little Rock for a compressed skull fracture and later that night underwent brain surgery. This experience had a profound effect on me. I was fascinated with all of the equipment and medical jargon. My surgery was followed by several weeks of treatment and special precautions for my injury, but the whole ordeal sparked my interest in medicine. Even at the age of 5, I dreamed of a career in medicine. I appreciated the way I was treated by the doctors and nurses. I would be honored to help others in need like I was helped in my kindergarten experience.
Although I missed six weeks of kindergarten, I returned to school and completed the year, and many more since that time. As I’ve grown older, I am still in pursuit of my dream of a medical career of some sort. I haven’t forgotten the warm treatment I received as a child, or the kindness and professionalism of the people at Baptist Hospital in Little Rock. I believe that if it weren’t for this experience, I may not have worked as hard as I have to accomplish my dream of entering the medical world in the future.
Although I have not yet attended college or medical school, I have found ways to help people in need through activities such as volunteer work and mission trips. For three consecutive summers, I participated in mission trips to Mexico through Fellowship Bible Church in Conway, Arkansas. Our goals were Christian outreach and to build houses for the underprivileged people living just over the border. During each of these trips I was exposed to people significantly less fortunate than me, and this sparked a desire within me to focus my talents on those in need. One of our mission group members was Dr. Tom Roberts, a local orthopedic surgeon. He provided an example with his concern for the welfare of others. After watching Dr. Roberts and his compassion and willingness to give, I found a role model for my future career. He put the needs of others before his own personal desires and spent his time in this way rather than on vacation or making more money.
From my kindergarten garden hoe experience that led me to Baptist Hospital, my pursuit of a career that involves helping others has only increased. I have found ways to help others through various clubs and church organizations. These efforts have been rewarding, but I want to do more. I want to do something in the medical profession that allows me to help people, like both Dr. Roberts and the staff at Baptist Hospital did.
An additional life experience of mine that further increased my interest in medicine occurred shortly before I was born, when my grandfather was diagnosed with a form of Parkinson’s disease. As I grew older, I watched as the disease progressively got worse as it attacked his motor and language capabilities, until it finally killed him when I was eight years old. As of now, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but I plan on changing that fact. I am confident that with the education I will get at the University of Arkansas, and hopefully thereafter in medical school, I will be able to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. I do not want anyone to have to go through what my grandpa experienced during the last ten years of his life.
When I was seven years old, my grandpa was moved into our home for around-the-clock care by my family. I used to come home from school every day and go in his room to talk to him. Some days, he wouldn’t remember who I was, and some days he would. He eventually lost the ability to walk, communicate, and was in bed all day. I watched as the disease ravaged his body during the last few years he was alive. I witnessed how he sometimes was not even able to recognize my dad-his own son. I believe that this disease can be cured, and that if given the chance, I can help find the cure. Now it seems like I am moving closer to the opportunity I’ve been waiting for, and I cannot wait to begin.
There has been some very intense research to find a cure for Parkinson’s. So far, scientists have only been able to find ways to reduce the suffering. There are several on-going experiments to find cures, but so far none have been successful in eliminating the disease. I refuse to believe that a cure cannot be discovered. In fact, I believe that it can be found in the next few years. With the technology available to scientists and doctors now, the cure can’t be out of reach for long. I hope to become a part of this effort, and to find the cure to Parkinson’s within the next ten years. Ten years or not, I will not give up or lose hope, because I know it can be found in my lifetime.
Parkinson’s is a disease that has affected millions of families, including mine. I want to do something about it. I hope that no one else ever has to experience what my family and I went through with my grandpa. I intend to use the skills I gain in college and medical school over the next ten years to act on my promise to do all that I can to find a cure.
These experiences have created a desire within me to pursue a career in medicine. My interest was first sparked when I was hospitalized after the incident involving the garden hoe where I received wonderful treatment and where I was able to experience first-hand a medical environment. After that, the desire to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease developed in me after witnessing the illness death of my grandpa. As I grew older, I was able to participate in mission trips to Mexico, in which I was able to observe the personal and professional work and influence of Dr. Tom Roberts. These events have all increased my desire for a medical profession. I have begun to take more science courses at school, some being Advanced Placement, which have only caused my interest in medicine to increase. Science has always been my favorite subject, and now I am able to take more specific courses like biology, anatomy, chemistry, and physics. Unlike other professions, I want a direct role in helping as many people on as significant a level of importance as possible. I want to use my knowledge of the sciences and medicine that I will gain to be able to assist people within my own community, as well as people in other countries for the rest of my life.