He wrote of an "unquenchable curiosity" and owned a long list of academic accomplishments to back up his stated lifelong goal "to increase the efficiency of how human beings learn and remember."
But before Kansas University could interview James E. Holmes for a possible slot in the neuroscience graduate program, Holmes withdrew his application.
That was in February 2011.
A little over a year later — this past July — police say Holmes entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. and started shooting, killing 12 and injuring 58 others.
In 2011, Holmes, carrying a 3.94 grade point average from the University of California, Riverside, applied to six graduate schools before being accepted to the neuroscience program at at the University of Colorado, Denver.
The Journal-World filed an open records request last week seeking access to the records pertaining to Holmes' admission application to KU. On Wednesday, KU provided the documents.
In his KU application, Holmes wrote about his experience as a camp counselor and helping underprivileged children, some of whom had mental disorders and were heavily medicated.
"The medication changed them from highly energetic creative kids to lax beings who slept through the activities. I wanted to help them but couldn't. This is where neuroscience research becomes invaluable," he wrote.
He wanted to get a doctorate in neuroscience. "Indeed all aspects of society have the potential to gain from advancements in our understanding of the learning and memory because we are all connected. We all share one brain, the human brain," he wrote.
His transcript shows high grades, many honors and academic research. He stated he was fascinated with "long lost thought seemingly arising out of nowhere into a stream of awareness."
He added, "Making new discoveries in neuroscience is intrinsically rewarding in its own right. I have an unquenchable curiosity, a strong desire to know and explore the unknown, and a need to persist against the odds."
After Holmes withdrew his application, Elias Michaelis, professor and co-director of Graduate Studies for the Neuroscience Graduate Program wrote Holmes a letter. Michaelis said he was sorry Holmes had withdrawn his application, writing "we would have been most interested in having you come for an interview."
Michaelis thanked Holmes for applying and wished him luck.
One of the six schools that Holmes had applied to was the University of Iowa. After Holmes visited the campus for an interview, a professor there emphatically recommended against Holmes' admission to the program, according to documents.
"Do NOT offer admission under any circumstances," wrote the Iowa professor Daniel Tranel.