Posted by: Staff | 01.24.2008

College Essay I: Liz Cobb

ELIZABETH COBB ‘08

I watch as the furry little fiends scurry spastically around a tree chasing each other. I hate them. While cute and seemingly harmless, squirrels are my least favorite type of animal. Though my fear of this woodland creature that has overly adapted to society may seem irrational, I refuse to abandon my belief that they are underestimated, mischievous beings.

My dislike for squirrels started at a young age. As my family strolled though the Boston Common on sunny afternoons, my sister and I found amusement in watching the adorable critters sporadically stop and start as they darted up and down trees and across the green. I learned, however, that these squirrels were overly accustomed to humans and urban lifestyles. They would relentlessly creep towards us, sensing no threat. My parents, becoming aware of our discomfort, would attempt to frighten the creatures away, only to have the squirrels approach our stroller more closely. My trepidation around the rodent was reinforced years later as a petite sick squirrel entered my yard while I was playing outside. I ran inside and watched as the animal flung itself at our screen door with, in my mind, no motive but to evoke terror in a little girl’s mind.

Throughout my life I have dealt with many of my fears. I have made many presentations and announcements about volleyball games and scientific research in front of my student body to overcome my fear of public speaking. I ventured over 600 miles from home to attend a Materials Science and Engineering program this past summer, have been appointed and elected to numerous leadership positions at my school, such as all-school treasurer and captain of the volleyball team, and was offered a second audition after I tried out for “Design Squad,” a PBS teen reality/engineering television show last spring, proving to myself that my hesitation to stand out or willingly be a leader had dissolved years ago. I even failed my driver’s test the first time and in doing so dejectedly learned to handle my fear of failure. Yet, in my years of maturing and growth, I have not learned to cope with my fear of these unabashed little monsters.

At every college visit, I spy them out of the corner of my eye and evaluate their actions and population, knowing they will be prevalent on every campus. Though the situation is unfavorable, I must coexist with this daunting and devious species. Many times in life I have been forced to accept disagreeable circumstances or frustrating challenges. I have struggled with difficult group projects, overwhelming amounts of work, and excruciating volleyball losses. From these experiences I have learned to face adversity, resolve problems and find ways to adapt to numerous situations. Directly meeting my challenges has helped me learn many strategies for problem solving, but I have yet to overcome my problem with squirrels.

I have been a rational person my whole life. I love finding understanding in various subjects and being able to relate what I have learned to my life. Appreciating the reasoning behind electric fields and the importance of gender roles in Shakespeare’s As You Like It are enjoyable to me. I will happily dispute a theory that seems inaccurate or skewed; when presented with the arguments against my apprehension around squirrels, however, I cannot take them into full consideration or rid myself of this fear. As I look forward to college I know I will have many exciting experiences exploring new concepts, making friends and finding new passions. Unfortunately, it is possible that one will in some way involve a squirrel. I may never truly recognize these furry little fiends as a normal part of my life, and I am willing to accept that.

Elizabeth Cobb will be attending the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University

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