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Talya Jeter

Essay Engineer




Duke University, 2019-2023

B.S.E in Biomedical Engineering

B.S in Neuroscience

Minor in African & African American Studies

Minor in Chemistry 

Duke University, 2023-2024

 M.S. in Biomedical Engineering

Certificate in Neural Engineering

A Bit About Me

A major struggle for me and many other students when applying to college was feeling confident that I had something interesting to write about. When applying to college, I decided to have fun with it and shared fun facts about myself without the expectations or stress to impress. I learned that that was unknowingly a really good strategy because applying to college is all about meeting new people, so if your story is imbued with personal details, readers will really feel like they've gotten to know you so that they want to admit you. 

Right now, I'm a senior at Duke University double majoring in Biomedical Engineering & Neuroscience and minoring in African & African American Studies. As a college senior, I'm going to be applying to gap year programs before going to medical school, so I'm right there with you!

Work Experience

August 2019 - Present

August 2019 - Present

March 2023- Present

College Calm with Talya, LLC - 


Scleroderma Stories - 


Pratt eTeam, Eduvisa Tutor, Blue Devil Buddies, pEDGE mentor, EGR 79s (Thrive) Teaching Assistant, CS Sidekicks Instructor


Assessing and Improving Girls' and Women's Math Identity


NSBE, SWE, Society of Black Physicians & Engineers, American Association of Black Physician Scientists, Association for Women in Science, Alzheimer’s Association

Citrus Fruits

Talya Class of 2019 Personal Statement

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

The math world is all too familiar with the irreverent question: when will I ever use this in real life?


Despite the fact our airplane had turned around for an emergency, I managed to fall asleep; whether it was due to the early departure time or lack of oxygen I wasn’t sure...


My favorite book that I’ve read for school is Jurassic Park. This isn’t surprising because when I grew up I wanted to be a paleontologist. Yet reading Jurassic Park provided more for me than a good read and a childhood dream; it opened up a world of fundamentals that we often overlook and I’ve grown to love.


In July 2016, I was excited to embark on a family trip to visit the United States’ own tropical island Puerto Rico. Like Dr. Grant’s, our plane took off in the dim light of early morning. If I squinted hard enough, I could see dinosaurs roaming through the sky.


Aside from the motivational motif of “life finds a way,” Jurassic Park highlights the simple complexity of mathematics. Ian Malcolm showcases a world of order within chaos by introducing fractalsㅡ invisible numbers, patterns, and ratios that form our dynamic living systemㅡ which we don’t conventionally learn about in school. This was significantly more interesting than Honors Geometry, inspiring me to research self-similarity and explore what it means to be mathematically rough. I learned how impactful the small, delicate butterfly is. Now, I’m able to pick out the beauty in the repeated curves in shells, the engineered snowflakes, and the billowy clouds that decorate the sky.


On that day, the clouds were dark and bulbous giving an ominous foreshadowing of the day’s events. An hour into our flight, the seatbelt lights loudly flashed on. In unforgettable moments later, an oxygen mask frantically dropped in front of me. Startled, I looked around thinking it was a system malfunction, but it wasn’t. The pilot came on, but a hurricane of fear crashed over me and my ears thundered with wonder if I would die.


Ever since learning about fractals, I’ve retained my initial awe. I often break into lecture when I see an interesting pattern in nature or statistics. Over time, I’ve discovered that fractals tell us that fate is real, at least to an extent. Factors from earlier in the morning, a few years ago, or even a couple epochs in the past, point to the outcomes of the future.


I looked toward my youngest sister to help her put on her mask while taking short breaths through my own. I looked at my parents to make sure we were okay, but the usual reassurance was not there. I needed to stop panicking. I paused to reflect on what I knew about airplanes―was air really necessary? I desperately racked my brains and then it hit me. I had read about aerodynamics in Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell earlier that summer. One statistic reverberated in my head: “The typical accident involves seven consecutive human errors.” I began counting factors that could cause human error. One: We had 10 min to reach a lower altitude to equalize pressure. Two: There were a lot of clouds. Three: It was too early in the morning. Four: Turning around disrupts air traffic control. Five: How cool can we really keep under pressure, or lack thereof? There were only five.


I watched Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom this summer and was stunned to find Ian Malcolm giving the accidents-aren’t-really-accidents spiel. Memories of the frightening plane came flooding back, and I bawled in the theater. In that moment I felt as if he were talking to me, and in that moment I knew I desperately wanted to create my own fractal. To use one small, chaotic pen stroke to create something massive in my future, like the butterfly. To answer the original question: math simply is real life. But my real life is not simple.

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