Your Voice: A Student Publication


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Your Voice: A Student Publication


Your Voice: A Student Publication


Something Special – College Essay – Ben Chappell


Prompt: We’d love to learn more about you than the basic facts on this application. Tell us, in 250 words or more, something special about you. The topic is your choice; be as creative as you like!

Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” However, I would argue that curiosity is a talent in itself. I am proud to claim curiosity as a special talent that drives me in my life. As a toddler, it drove me to shake the lamp in my living room to see if it would survive. As a three-year-old it made me wonder what I would discover if I ran away from my family down the beaches of South Florida. Luckily, my curiosity today tends to be a little more useful (although there is still much to be uncovered on those Florida beaches). I believe it is my innate curiosity that has allowed me to ask questions, explore, and ultimately find my passion in theme park engineering. 

As a curious person, there is something special about being immersed in a story. The beauty of a theme park is that instead of passively hearing a story, you are actively experiencing it. For example, while I enjoyed Pixar’s Cars movie, there was something magical about my first ride on Disneyland’s Radiator Springs Racers as I zoomed through the arid canyons I had witnessed in the film. Unlike a more casual park goer who just enjoyed the thrill of the ride, my curiosity took over. I found myself asking, “How did they do that?” I wanted to learn more about every detail of the ride, from the complicated slot car vehicle system to the scale of the scenery carefully blocking out the real world of Southern California. I realized that I not only wanted to admire these amazing feats of engineering but that I wanted to be part of the magic that created them. 

As a passionately curious theme park enthusiast, I realized that to learn more about this industry I would need to do some field research. For me, this came in the form of my annual family road trip. Each summer, I would pile into the minivan with my dad, mom, and brother to explore the country and hit as many theme parks as we could along the way. On top of the immersive attractions, I discovered there is nothing quite as impressive as a rollercoaster and how it maneuvers the human body through space and time. On one such trip, X2 at Six Flags Magic Mountain captured my imagination like no other ride had before. As America’s only fourth dimension coaster, its seats rotate independently from the track. I flipped, dropped, and spun like I never have before and I was hooked. I was inspired to learn more about how these incredible works of art were made.

When I was eleven, I joined the American Coaster Enthusiasts and found my tribe. Suddenly, I was surrounded by other coaster nerds who were comparing “coaster counts” and the latest theme park news. Surrounded by other like-minded people, I enjoyed exclusive ride time and behind-the-scenes tours. I also met my good friend and mentor, Nicholas, who took me under his wing. Like me, Nicholas had a passion for rides from a young age and followed his dreams all the way to Walt Disney Imagineering, Disney’s theme park design team. He gave me hope that I too could turn my curiosity into a career.

Today, I am excited to see where my curiosity and passion might lead me. I have now ridden 322 different roller coasters across the country. Each one amazes me and sparks my imagination further and my mind continues to ask questions at every opportunity. I know if I follow my curiosity, amazing adventures await. Someone once said, “Curiosity killed the cat,” but I’ve never been much of a cat person anyway.

Photo by Chris de Tempe on Unsplash

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    frannieFeb 15, 2024 at 8:34 AM


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    Shari BelangerDec 12, 2023 at 7:07 PM

    I love how your passion for roller coasters has been such a constant in your life and that you keep seeking to learn more!