Claws scrabbled at the door, each scratch a shock of fear to my heart. Inside the kitchen, my sister and I hid behind a stainless steel table, slick as the sweat that dripped from my brow. A creak of the door handle; a clicking of prehistoric toenails across the tile floor; and I looked at my sister, panic searing through me: the raptors had made it inside.

I never thought I would find myself in such a situation when I went to visit my grandfather on his remote island where he’d created a paradise of living dinosaurs. In fact, my face lit up with childlike joy upon seeing the place, my intellectual curiosity instantly piqued. I got my first taste of fieldwork examining an ailing triceratops with seasoned paleontologists, which instilled in me a passion for hands-on learning. That passion for learning is certainly something I would bring with me to a college classroom; it is also a feeling I have tried to impart to my fellow students in my work as French Peer Tutor.

However, my time at the park was more than a simple voyage of academic discovery. It was also a complicated and profound transition into adulthood. I overcame copious obstacles such as surviving a Tyrannosaurus rex attack, escaping from a treed car, and being electrocuted by a high-voltage fence. Overcoming these obstacles required great courage and also newfound maturity. Indeed, the adult traits I acquired surviving dinosaurs will make me an enthusiastic and passionate member of a college community, whether I brave a Friday night dance or experiment in a new discipline, such as figure drawing.

My experience there in many ways marked my transition into adulthood. However, perhaps the most important thing I learned was not one of reptilian past but of human present. My grandfather taught me that summer about the ongoing process of learning. Though some critics may read failure in his attempt to safely clone dinosaur embryos, his experience helped me to realize that no matter the age, learning never stops. My grandfather’s learning experience with terrible lizards mirrors my personal experience in my position as Senior Class Co-Treasurer, which required me to learn how to share leadership and how to manage a budget.

In addition, my time at the park marked an intellectual transition into adulthood because it sparked a new interest in history. Though the park itself centered on prehistoric history, I credit my visit there with a lifelong interest in history in general, in particular the French Revolution. My senior capstone project on the Tennis Court Oaths demonstrates my dedication to academics, and I can easily foresee myself continuing this project in a rigorous academic environment. Though the raptors were the guillotine—nay, the Robespierre—of my childhood, they helped me realize the importance of intellectual curiosity.

Pliny the Elder once said, “From sad experiences spring new beginnings.” Instead of giving in to sadness and mourning my lost childhood, I escaped the kitchen, the raptors, and the park. My childhood stayed behind in the jungle, crystallized like amber. Thus I was able to move forward into the world as an adult.

Thanks to my experiences on Isla Nublar, I am comfortable tackling the plethora of challenges that await me on campus, be they academic or physical, modern or prehistoric, quotidian or genetically engineered.