I step up to the line, left foot forward, right hand on my wristwatch. I look to my right and see my six teammates lined up, but I don't hear the words coming out of their mouths. It is as if I have pressed a mute button to the world around me. I think back to our interval training sessions, sometimes beginning before the sun started its day. Side by side we would sweat, our hearts pounding, and lungs gasping for air. I am confident that we have put in the work needed to accomplish our goals. We are a team. We all know this could be our last race of the season. As the lone senior, I know this could be my last race ever. I look to the ground. Our feet make a uniform row of mismatched racing spikes. Some are clean and flashy, others covered in mud. Mine are the same pair I've been wearing since I began as a freshman four years ago. Focus. I hear the whistle, less than five seconds until the start. This is it. My heart racing, the gun goes off. My mind goes blank. I can't see any of my teammates but I know they are not far behind me. The race is a blur; I feel no pain. I can see the crowds of people cheering and yelling but I don't hear any sound except for my split times at miles one, two and three. In what feels like thirty seconds I am coming up the last stretch. Inside my head I am screaming, 'Less than a half mile to go. Go faster, push yourself! This is it-your last chance. Don't let yourself finish with even one drop of energy left.' My legs turn faster and faster. I don't know where it's coming from, but I'm doing it. I see myself passing more runners, gaining speed and all I see is that finish line. In an instant it is over. I'm done. And I won. No, I did not place first in the race. I placed twelfth. I won because I never gave up. I watch my six teammates finish. And then I wait&did I qualify for nationals alone or will my whole team go? That was one of my most memorable races during senior year. I helped lead my team to become the first in school history to win the Women's Cross Country NCAA Regional, which automatically qualified our whole team for nationals. The sacrifices we made, the 6AM practices, running twice a day, missing classes to travel for races& nothing in the past seemed to matter anymore. I put in hard work for months and years leading up to this; I was dedicated. It didn't end up being my last race. We competed again at the NCAA Nationals against the best teams in the nation, only to find that we were one of them. We placed fourth. I placed 42nd in the nation, nine seconds from being an All-American. I came home with a trophy, but more importantly I will forever have memories from four years of being on that team. What does all of this have to do with my desire to pursue a medical career? One might look at my transcript and think that I should have spent more time studying and less time running if I wanted to pursue a career as a physician-scientist. I beg to differ. While I might have increased my GPA by spending all my time on academic pursuits, I would not trade a perfect 4.0 GPA for my experiences as a collegiate athlete. My experiences as a runner have shaped me into the person I am today and I believe they will be invaluable to my future as a physician-scientist. Through my four years on the Cross Country and Track teams I have not only gained physical and mental toughness, but I have also learned to deal with both success and defeat, to perform well under pressure, to manage my time well, and to work with and trust teammates. I believe all of these are essential for a successful career in medicine. Above all I have discovered the inner joy that comes from pursuing my passions. Running, however, is just one of my passions. Various experiences throughout my life have instilled in me a passion for biology and medicine. Through clinical and other volunteer experiences I have confirmed my desire to interact with and help people. In addition to being exposed to medicine through my father, a physician, I have spent time volunteering in a Hispanic health clinic, and in The Siteman Cancer Center. I love the satisfaction in knowing I made someone's life easier or better. Almost by accident I stumbled upon another passion, my love of research. I was hired to work in a microbiology lab following graduation from Wash U. After a month of working in the lab I realized how much I enjoyed research. This led me to delay applying to medical school until I had fully explored this opportunity. I found myself choosing to work extra hours, wanting to finish an experiment because I couldn't wait one more day for the results. I love the challenge of my research and the excitement of a new discovery. I want to spend my working life doing something I enjoy while constantly being intellectually stimulated and challenged. My goal is to be at the interface of medicine and basic science research, where I can combine both of my passions. As demonstrated in my commitment to one passion, running, I will do whatever is required of me to accomplish my goals and I believe I can excel as a professional student, physician, and scientist.