Updated: Jul 28, 2022
This past summer I had the opportunity to participate in a highly rigorous academic program at MIT called MITES, Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science. For six and a half weeks, I lived with 68 other rising seniors and college undergrads. Though we were all warned about how hard the program would be, we were all at the top of our classes and refused to believe it- after all, who did they think we were?
The first day, we sat together in a small auditorium, unaware of each other and of what lay ahead. We were told that our confidence would be shattered, our minds blown away, and our lives changed forever. Still somewhat unmoved, we were not afraid.
By the second week of MITES valedictorians, nerds, bookworms, and techies alike were leaning on each other’s shoulders at two in the morning crying over problem sets they had imagined only in nightmares. It is a well known fact that hard times bring friends closer together, but I would have never expected for these strangers to become my best friends, my support system, or even my family. The 16 hours days I was accustomed to at home did not last long. I was getting an average of four hours of sleep per night, finishing a book per week, zooming through subjects once foreign to me, and constructing a semiautonomous robot from drill motors all at the same time.
We were each enrolled in 5 classes, my schedule consisted of Introductory Physics, Engineering Design, Chemistry, first year Calculus, and Humanities. In the month and a half we completed a semester of Physics and Chemistry each, a full year of Calculus, the material equivalent to a semester of AP literature, and introductory level engineering. The work was so intense that when I entered school in the fall I enrolled in second year Calculus, and maintained the only A in AP Physics, having no physics experience prior to MITES.
Since this program, I have not been satisfied with the regular coursework given at my school. I am constantly on the lookout for new programs to enroll in and other teams, clubs, and groups to join. This academic school year marks the peak of my involvement in educational opportunities. I have somehow managed to find time for the Speech and Debate team, ACE mentoring team, swim team, Science Bowl team, California Honors Society and Scholarship Federation, Play Production, Jewish Student Union, Gear-up Mentoring Program, and folklorico dancing.
MITES was the most challenging experience of my life. The program is the single most pivotal point in my academic endeavors to date. The assistants we had had all gone through the program and agreed that even in college at Harvard, MIT, Caltech, and Princeton, nothing came close. The motivation and encouragement I gained from MITES has fueled my academic pursuits and pushed me to raise the bar.
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