Yimei Wu.

2017 Winner – Yimei Wu

Essay: The Clown Doctor

by Yimei Wu, who is studying Nursing at Emory University

The cover image of Kennedy Krieger Institute's clinic brochure jumped out at me: a white-haired doctor was wearing a goofy, red, clown's nose, opposite a child in a wheelchair. The smile on the doctor's face is one that said: we will take care of you--everything will be alright. The silly nose encouraged: smile, I see you there, and we'll work through this. The doctor in the picture--is my former boss, Dr. S. He is turning 86 this year, and still practicing medicine. He probably still plays a mean game of tennis on Tuesday evenings.

Until I met him, I thought I would eventually become a healthcare consultant or administrator--like many others in my MHS program at Johns Hopkins University. I did change jobs after two years, but my heart never moved on from the Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) Clinic.

The OI Clinic sees patients with osteogenesis imperfecta, otherwise known as brittle bone disease. This rare disease occurs because of a genetic collagen mutation. I witnessed how Dr. S knew each patient's entire medical history almost by memory and could tell their story from the time they were born. He gave them full attention for their long, often cross-country visits to the OI Clinic. He was there for the patients who ended up in the ER from fractures over the weekend--rushing over even before his night at the theater was done.

It's because of one goofy clown doctor, who stoops down to smile directly into the eyes of an 8-year old, wheel-chair bound child with a dozen or more recorded fractures, that so many individuals living with OI can live with hope and dignity. It's because of Dr. S, that a dream was planted in me--to carry on that kind of legacy as a future family nurse practitioner. My dream is that each man, woman, and child who brings their hope for healing into the clinic waiting room, searching my eyes--may catch the faint, but reassuring glimmer of a bright, cherry-red clown's nose.

Competition terms and conditions

The Study Hard Challenge essay competition is open to current and future college students. You must be a U.S. or Canadian citizen enrolled, or seeking to enroll, in an accredited college or university.

Fill in the form on this page to enter. It is recommended that you first draft your essay in a Word document or similar. If you have any submission problems, you may send your entry by email to info@goodcolleges.online.

The competition closing date is April 1. A new round of the competition, with a different theme, will start as soon as the current round finishes.

The content of any entries may be used by Good Colleges for research or publishing purposes.

Judging and awarding

The winning essay will be selected by a panel and announced in the same month that the competition closes.

How well the essay follows the theme is a judging factor. A winning entry may be insightful, informative, entertaining or moving. There are no rules about what style of entry could win.

The $2,000 prize is paid via PayPal. An email address linked to a PayPal account is required for payment.

The winner is asked to send a photo of themselves with a winning certificate (to be supplied).