“Healing Beyond Borders” by Mathew Griffin - Career

50 Successful Ivy League Application Essays - Tanabe Gen, Tanabe Kelly 2009

“Healing Beyond Borders” by Mathew Griffin

Brown University

While healing people will be my main priority as a doctor, I don’t want to only help individuals overcome disease after disease.

For true change I must work on a much larger scale. I plan on being involved in research, and drawing ideas and information from my patients and sharing it with researchers to find answers about the ail-ments that plague the human mind. By being a voice from the front lines I hope that I can catalyze the development of treatments and cures. Additionally, I want to become an advocate for public health. If a government is doing something that is detrimental to the health of its citizens, someone needs to point it out, and fight for a better alternative. Unless I do this then the people I help will continue to get sick regardless of how much I help.

Still, my main task as a doctor is to help patients, and I want to help as many of them as I can. Seeing the reality of the health of the world is very important to me if I am going to properly improve it. I have been so fortunate to live in a place where medicine is so refined, and I am even more blessed to know that I have the chance to help spread this refinement. While issues such as world hunger are constantly being improved, doctors in other countries are scarce and locals are still being trained in ancient ways and often hurting their patents more than helping. I want to give back my blessings a hundred-fold and spread better medicine. First, I want to see the health of our world as I help it by joining Medecins Sans Frontieres as soon as I can. Only after I help things first hand can I make a mature decision on how I should try to help the world as a whole. I feel the experiences that I get from my education and the experiences helping people across the world will give me a very strong ability to know how to help to the best of my abilities. Today I am already planning for this journey by teaching myself foreign languages. I hope that by the time I am ready to help people, knowing many languages will help me bond with my patients and truly make me a doctor without borders. I plan on fighting for health for as long as I can, and I want to help every person I can regardless of background, money or stigma.


In “Healing Beyond Borders,” Mathew makes good use of a small amount of space to answer the two questions in the essay (“What is your vision of a physician?” and “How do you view your role as a future physician?”). When there is more than one specific question in an essay, it can be tempting to answer them separately as in a survey/questionnaire; but for college essays, it is best to take advantage of the format allotted to write a coherent piece. Mathew’s essay does an excellent job of providing a strong thesis sentence to address both questions in a single argument: he places healing people as his main priority, but he also wants to “work on a much larger scale.”

Mathew goes on to explain what this “larger scale” work would look like, giving us a vision of his role as a future physician. He writes about his desire to research mental health issues and to become “an advocate for public health.” He then extends the “larger scale” beyond the U.S. to global proportions. However, rather than writing abstractly about “the world,” which can sound idealistic but lacking in substance, Mathew pinpoints a specific way in which he can engage in global healthcare: Medicins Sans Frontieres. This reference demonstrates Mathew’s research of healthcare on a worldwide scale, and the sentence “Today I am already planning for this journey by teaching myself foreign languages” demonstrates his commitment to this goal.

Aspirations in college essays are strengthened by concrete “evidence” that you are already making progress toward these goals. Mathew could have mentioned the specific foreign languages he is studying to further define those places to which he is most drawn.

Overall, this essay gives us a strong sense of Mathew’s commitment to global medicine. The essay could be strengthened by using more specific examples rather than generalized statements, such as the statement that “doctors in other countries are scarce and locals are still being trained in ancient ways and often hurting their patients more than helping.” When writing about other cultures, it is important to be sensitive and avoid passing negative value judgments. Universities tend to be diverse places with people from many different backgrounds, making culturally sensitivity important for communicating with peers.