Posted by Greco S.
Hey everyone, it’s Greco. The school has just started about a week ago and I’m still jetlagged from my visit to South Korea. Usually, I sleep between 2 am and 3 am but this jetlag makes me fall asleep at midnight and wakes me up at around 5 in the morning. I mean, it’s all nice waking up early and all, but this is a bit too early. NO ONE IS AWAKE at this time and the world is just too quiet haha.
Oh yea, and there was this massive snowstorm yesterday that almost got us to have a snow day! Coming from California and not having seen snow for a long long time, I just can’t stay calm when it snows. I gotta get out there and just breath in the breaze..
Anyways, today I’m going to go over the classes that I’m taking this semester. I have just transferred from Arts and Sciences school to Engineering school, switching my major from Biology to Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (like JHU_Cate!). This certainly means much more math, chemistry, and physics, but I really do believe it’s worth pain; chemical engineers get a lot of job opportunities and also can earn a LOT of mulah. So here it goes:
This pretty much says everything. It’s the last part of Calculus and this time, I’m going to be dealing with multivariable functions and do partial derivatives, integrals, and other fun stuff with them. It also introduces vector calculus, a very important concept for Physics. My professor is Professor Chang, and I think he is a pretty good teacher once you get a hang of his accent.
Differential Equation and Application
This is another math course and yes I am taking two math courses this semester. You can take this course after you take Calculus II. For me, this course is a required course for my major. Professor Ivanovicci teaches this course and JHU_Brian is taking the class with me!
Intro. to Chemical and Biological Process Analysis
This is also a required class for ChemBE major. I will be learning the basic principles of chemical process analysis, ranging from energy balances to the solution of complex, multi-unit processes. Basically, it’s an introductory class that prepares you for higher-level ChemBE courses. A lot of math, chemistry, and physics involved.
Introduction to Fiction and Poetry II
This is a Writing Seminars course that follows Intro. to Fiction and Poetry I. Like IFP I, we read a lot of short fictions and poems and have weekly discussions. I think it’s different from other English courses in that we don’t really analyze the literary works, but we analyze the techniques that the authors use so we can apply/avoid them in our own fictions and poetry. It’s also a writing-intensive course, so there are a lot of writing assignments. But usually, you write your own poems and fictions instead of essays, unlike other writing intensive courses. The class is really small, usually around 15 people, and discussion is my favorite part of the class. I think it’s a really good creative outlet for me.
Introduction to the History of Modern Philosophy
This is an introductory philosophy course that examines the logic & ideas of modern philosophy giants such as Descartes, Locke, Kant, and Leibiz. I am quite enjoying this course since it involves a lot of thinking and discussing rather than just sitting and listening to the professor. How do can we tell we exist? Can we separate mind from body? Why are human beings unique? Can we prove that God exists? I’m taking this course because I’m thinking about double majoring in Writing Seminars and I feel like learning about these philosophy giants’ ideas and experience can widen my perspective and inspire my literary works. I’m taking this course with JHU_Daniel. I also like our professor, Dr. Melamed, because he does a very good job on leading discussions and posing interesting questions for us to think about all through his lectures.
Ok, so all this is 18 credits. I took 16 credits last semester, so right now I’m taking 2 more credits. This is going to be hard, I’m not gonna lie. Two math courses plus a writing intensive course is going to make me very very busy. Why do I torture myself like that? well that’s because I believe this is going to prepare me for later semesters when things are going to get even busier. It’s also a good opportunity for me to test out how well I can manage my time and handle work efficiently as well. And it’s not like I’m going to isolate myself and give up my social life. I’m still doing SAAB, Vocal Chords, photography, plus hanging with my floormates.
So here it starts, the second semester of my freshman year. I really hope this time, I’ll learn a lot about not only academic stuff, but also about myself, what I am capable of, and what my goals should be for the next school year.
Posted by Becca K.
I’ve been thoroughly spoiled. It was long walks on the Ponte Vecchio, unlimited gelato, homemade pasta, historical buildings and five hundred year old works of art every day for the three weeks I spent in Florence, Italy during intersession. I was taking a Renaissance art history class there along with 13 other girls. The class was led by two professors who are currently in the midst of completing their dissertations in art history here.
I came to Hopkins this year thinking I would take some art history classes and then based upon my experiences with those, possibly consider a major or minor in History of Art. While it’s true that I enjoyed taking Intro to European Art History first semester, the course left me questioning whether or not this was a true passion of mine. I recognized that art history is one of those subjects that is not for the fainthearted—art historians love what they do, and they live and breath studying works of art and their historical contexts. In essence, art history isn’t one of those majors or minors that people tend to pick up on a whim.
Traveling to Italy and taking the art history intersession course changed my perspective entirely. I went from enjoying art and art history, to having a whole new appreciation for it—the trip allowed me to identify (maybe even confirm) where my academic passions lie. I enjoyed the long hours we spent at museums and galleries for class, discussing the history behind works by Raphael, Duccio, Giotto, Caravaggio, Da Vinci, Botticelli, Ghiberti, Pisano, Michelangelo, Titian, Pontormo, Masaccio, Masolino, Brunelleschi, Vasari and the like. It was interesting to compare the works of art we saw and learn about how various artists influenced the styles of their contemporaries. After studying a few of these pieces at the end of my Intro to European Art History class (the class covers just up to medieval and a little bit of early Renaissance art), I found it fascinating to see many of them, previously only available to me as photographs in a textbook, in real life. There was so much more to be gleaned from these works in their actual setting compared to a small textbook photograph. For example, Titian minimally primed his canvases and used loose brush strokes with his oil paint, creating an impressionist style that can only really be seen in person. I discovered that such artistic conventions are only readily apparent if you are interacting personally with a work of art—experiencing it. As cliché as it sounds, I was able to see all of these works literally come to life before my eyes! It’s a hard feeling to describe, but you feel eerily connected to the artist and the people of the time period who once gathered around a particular piece of art when you see it in person. Much of this art was used for liturgical practice, so being in those churches and near those paintings took on a whole other meaning.
In Florence, I was just like the rest of the American tourists—amazed, inspired—completely in awe of the beauty of the Italian people and their culture. Everything about Italy and its art was inspiring—how did these artists learn how to master such painting techniques with few examples preceding them? What piqued their interest in the masterful creations of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome? How did they erect such massive buildings (decorated with heavy masonry and imported marbles) with such limited technology available to them? How did they create such elaborate frescoes on soaring ceilings, while still managing to maintain a sense of proportion? Many of these questions were answered as I visited important sites and museums in Italy…many spurred new questions for me. The Renaissance is a fascinating period in history to study.
I was fortunate enough to take a weekend excursion to Rome the first weekend and another trip to Paris the second weekend of our course. In addition to those places, we traveled to Siena as a class (an hour train ride from Florence) and the Loire Valley (two hours outside of Paris, in the French country). In Rome, we saw the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Roman baths at Caracalla, and the Coliseum. I personally appreciated the fact that Rome has impressive art spanning from antiquity to post-Renaissance. I also enjoyed that fact that the city is bursting with life and vibrancy at all almost all hours. It really is a city that never sleeps! Our hotel was at the top of the Spanish Steppes, a prime location in Rome, near some really amazing restaurants (trattorias, pizzerias, you name it!). The shopping was remarkable. My extra suitcase that I was forced to purchase can attest to that all by itself…
I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to study abroad for intersession as a freshman. It was truly an eye-opening experience, and I left Italy not only sad that to be parting from my beloved carbohydrates (YIKES), but delighted to have learned so much over the course of three weeks. I’m back in Baltimore, taking the second half of my Intro to European Art History course, and the material I’ve learned in Florence could not have been more relevant. My Introduction to Museum: Issues and Ideas class has also been so much more interesting now that I have been to just about a billion “museos” and “gallerias” over the past few weeks. I’m going to miss the “bella vita” in Italia, but my bella vita here at Hopkins is just beginning!
Ciao and thanks for reading! -BK
Posted by Miranda B.
I’m writing this from the comfort of my lovely extra long twin bed that’s covered in flannel sheets and fleece blankets. Why? There’s a partial snow day today! Hopkins is highly against cancelling classes or other university operations, so the fact that we start class today is pretty unusual/exciting. It’s my first snow day (partial or otherwise), so I’m planning on taking advantage of it!
I’m sure that when someone tells you to picture winter, most of you will think of snow. After seeing how beautiful everything looks covered in snow, I don’t know why you’d want to picture anything else. However, LA didn’t seem to get the winter message this year. Yes, I recognize that it doesn’t snow in LA. However, the temperature basically didn’t drop below 60 degrees for the month I was there. It was certainly a stark contrast to the snow here!
Me at the beach in December!
Winter break was an interesting experience. It was really nice to see family and friends again, and eat lots of home-cooked food. However, being back at home really emphasized the differences between college life and living at home. At college, you see your friends all the time – everyone eats in the same place, and you all live nearby. There’s a lot more spontaneity in getting together. Back at home, especially when we don’t have high school pulling us together, it’s a lot harder to see everyone all the time – there’s so much more organization and effort involved. There were also some smaller things – for the first few days, I kept wanting to wear flip flops to go shower, and I was taking my keychain everywhere!
Here’s a photo view of my winter break:
Hopping off the plane at LAX with my dream and a cardigan...
I was working on this with friends, and they decided that since it could be picked up, I should wear it as a hat (3-d puzzles have foam pieces, which makes them easier to work with).
I flew back to Baltimore on Saturday the 16th for the last week of intersession. I know most of us don’t have anything good to say about airlines, but what should have been an awful flight in a middle seat turned out to be wonderful. After being on hold for 15 minutes the day before and finding out all I could get was a middle seat, I asked at the airport for other seats, and was given an aisle seat. Not only that, no one was sitting in the middle seat next to me, and the flight attendants were the nicest I’ve ever met! I got back to campus all by myself via the light rail and taxi.
That Sunday, I went ice skating with three of my friends at Mt. Pleasant Ice Arena. This was more fun than usual ice skating for several reasons. 1) There was a huge, deep puddle in the parking lot, which rainboots allowed us to explore. 2) One of my friends, who’s from Baltimore, knew people in a birthday party going on, and they gave us their extra pizza and cake. 3) I only fell once!
Monday started the intense week of mock trial – we spent at least 30 hours on mock trial, plus about 5 hours of watching The Practice/Jersey Shore. During that time, we figured out new case theory, and rewrote practically everything. I still had free time, which is a lovely part of intersession! At the end of the week, there was the intersession comedy show, which is basically the final for people in the stand up comedy class. One of my friends was performing (and was VERY funny), so we went and clapped and yelled for her.
Stay tuned for my blog about mock trial in NYC!
Posted by: Tyler D.
So before I decided to come to Hopkins, I was a little concerned about the campus's political energy. I come from a union lovin', social security backin', full out FDR'ed family and have a certain set of political opinions. Hopkins is technically below the Mason Dixon line and the whole Mid-Atlantic conundrum freaked me out a bit. College students are renowned for being more radical than their parents, and I did not want to miss out on the experience of youthful political disenchantment.
So I thought that I could share my thoughts on Hopkins's political zeitgeist and offer some examples on the political events that pass through here (no bra burnings yet, though). Overall, I have found the campus to be pretty moderate in respect to the New England schools I also visited. However, this wide variety is great in guaranteeing that everyone is going to find their political soulmate on campus. Yes, that goes for you apathetic people out there as well.
One great event that is starting in the spring is the Foreign Affairs Symposium speaker events. The Foreign Affairs Symposium (which I am not on, so this is a neutral endorsement) is a group of students that works to bring interesting speakers to campus. With Hopkins being so close to Washington, students are guaranteed to have access to the world's most interesting figures. However, who is going to deny the convenience of having a speaker show up right at Shriver Hall??
This picture is trying to reflect how pretty Hopkins looked last night in the snow. It's not quite there.
Last night, I attended a speech by Nicholas Kristof who is an op-ed writer for the New York Times. No matter what your newspaper allegiance is (Wall Street Journal vs. NY Times vs. Baltimore's City Paper), no one can deny the popularity and fame of Kristof's column. A link here. His writings generally focus on the inequality issues in developing nations and last night his talk completely centered on gender inequality. His topic completely surprised me & while I disagreed with some of his topics, I couldn't deny how much I enjoyed supporting this event.
As for the rest of the semester, the speaker list is included on FAS's website. The speakers do not have the same name recognition as the speakers Hopkins hosts for MSE Symposium. However, this leads to a more productive conversation and less celeb gushing.
The speakers I definitely am going to see:
Posted by Joe N.
Those of you who watch LOST immediately understand the title of this post, for those of you who don't it actually doesn't matter. I chose the numbers for the title of my post because right now as I'm writing this the premiere of the last season of LOST is on. Normally I would be watching it but I have plans to watch it with one of my friends who is just as obsessed as I am in full HD tomorrow night (if I were to watch it tonight it would only be standard definition). So let's get to the numbers and how they're significant to this post.
4 - 4 weeks ago was the beginning of the new year. For me this is going to be a big year. It's going to be my first full year as a college student, my first year where I'm away from home for the majority of the time, the first full year that I'm legally an adult, so on and so forth. Looking back at 2009 I couldn't be happier with how it turned out and even though I'm sorry that the year had to end, I'm excited for this new year and new decade.
8 - In approximately 8 weeks regular decision notifications will be sent out to all of the people who applied to Hopkins. This may not seem like a big date for me right away but I assure you it is. The project that I am working on for SAAB right now is nothing short of the biggest project that I've ever taken on. It's taken up and will take up a LOT of my free time, but it's something that I love doing and I know how amazing its going to end up. I originally started organizing and planning for this project in October (the original deadline was the ED Notification date). Over the last week of intersession I spent probably 10-15 hours working on what I planned to show to the other people involved in this project so we could hit the ground running this semester. 8 is also significant to me because just about 8 weeks ago my classes for the first semester ended and the reading period began. As you may have known from my post reflecting about that semester it wasn't all that easy for me, but I passed all of my classes and my GPA ended up being a little bit lower than my target GPA, but I was still very happy with my grade.
15 - I woke up 15 hours ago and realized that it was the day of the LOST Season Premiere. I wouldn't have known this if it weren't for one of the public announcements that I receive in my inbox every morning reminded me of this fact. Normally I would use this post to rant about LOST and everything that I like about it but as I said I'm holding off all my emotions about Lost until I watch it tomorrow night. Don't worry, my next blog will most likely be about LOST and why it is one of the greatest shows on TV.
16 - If you add up all these numbers you get 108. If you divide 108 by 16 you get 6 with a remainder. 6 hours ago Lauren and I finished up a HUGE portion of the project that we're working on. I know what you're thinking, with all this talk of this project when are we going to find out what it is or be able to see the results? Good question! If everything goes according to plan you'll know what the first portion of this project is in just under a week and you'll be able to see what Lauren and I have been working on. As I said before the second part of it (which is far greater than the first in magnitude) won't be revealed until the Regular Decision notifications are released. Expect two blog posts from me around these times that explain everything that the project entailed, how much time was spent on it, why they're so awesome, etc.
23 - Almost exactly 23 weeks ago I packed up pretty much everything that I owned and prepared to move into my dorm in McCoy Hall. It was tough because I had to leave all my friends behind even though I knew I would make new friends here. In many ways it seems like this was an eternity ago, I've been through so much but at the same time I can remember the last few days I spent with my friends like they were yesterday. It's funny because I looked forward to being able to spend time with all my friends on winter break, but at the end it just seemed ... well boring. I was home for a total of 5 weeks and if I weren't so bored on the final week I wouldn't have accomplished anything for the project that I'm working on.
42 - Approximately 42 weeks ago I was notified of my acceptance to Hopkins. If you haven't already you should read my post about my feelings about my acceptance and the thoughts that I had in the following weeks. This was another huge milestone in my life and as my last few days in high school went by I was ambivalent once more. I was more excited that I had ever been in my life to attend Hopkins and yet I didn't want my high school days to end. My feelings were nothing but positive after summer of last year as it was nothing short of the best summer in my life, and it left me without any regrets. I have no doubt that this summer will be just as fun, if not better. For those of you high schoolers who are reading this be sure to do everything you want during the summer after your senior year and during your last days of high school, there's nothing like being able to look back and say that you accomplished all of your goals.
I have to admit when I first decided that I was going to write my post like this I didn't think that I'd be able to get it to work with all of the numbers. If you add all those numbers up you get 108 and approximately 108 weeks ago I became obsessed with the show LOST and found out that I loved web design and worked with some of my HS classmates to redesign our school's website (http://www.hths.mcvsd.org/). Up until now this was the biggest project that I had taken on, but there were 5 of us so that wasn't a big deal.
As for my video for this week, it's called "How to Not Make Bread," but to tell you the truth everyone that I know makes bread like they do in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHK0uFb6Vzw. Thanks again for reading, see you in about 2 weeks!
Posted by Greco S.
If you are reading this then it is safe to assume you are aware of Hopkins Interactive and the blogs, videos, forums, and other related projects. So who’s in charge of all these?
WE ARE -- the Student Admissions Advisory Board, SAAB in short (pronounced just like the car) and we are in many was the student marketing branch for the Admissions Office. We are the faces of Johns Hopkins University and we try our best to show the real life at Hopkins, should it be academic or personal. Our goals are to make the school admissions more approachable and accessible to all the prospective and admitted students and to help those students make their best college decisions.
To do so, some of us post blogs. Most bloggers post entries every week, but we can also share blogs (like all the freshmen SAABers) and post entries every other week. You can write about your classes, research experience, or something personal like what you did on Halloween! Through blogging, we are hoping to provide something beyond our formal admission website and talk about Hopkins in current students’ point of view. We also use twitter as well. Right now, JHU_Saznin, JHU_Brian, and JHU_Keith are posting daily tweets about their college lives. It’s all about making our school more approachable and relatable to our prospective and admitted students.
Another role is to answer the questions posted on our Hopkins Forums (Message Boards). Our Hopkins Interactive Forum is the place where prospective/admitted students post questions about academics, student life, and admissions process. In addition, we have a “Parents’ Corner” for all the parents to ask questions as well. Students can directly interact with us and get information from the real insiders!
This is not all! We also participate in Open Houses as well. Some of you might have visited our Fall Open House 2009 programs. I was there mingling with you all during lunch and answered questions. We will also be doing similar thing during the Spring Open Houses for admitted students as well. Some of us are designing an awesome booklet named the Insider’s Guide, which will provide a variety of information from choosing the right dorm to finding good restaurants around the campus. All of us also interact face-to-face with the students during the Open Houses and answer questions. It’s all about being the friendly faces of Hopkins.
We meet once every week and the meeting is usually an hour and a half, sometimes shorter but never longer. Most of the time we talk about upcoming events like Open Houses and brainstorm ideas for ongoing projects. Every SAABers, no matter what year he/she is in, has an equal voice during the meetings.
Aside from all the work we do, ALL the SAAB people here (SAABers) are amazing and unique individuals. It’s just so interesting how diverse we are in terms of where we are from, ethnicity, majors, and even interests. It’s a group in which you can be who you are and truly feel like you are contributing. I did have some difficulties adjusting to this new college environment, but not for long; many of the upperclassmen SAABers helped me a lot with the transition from choosing classes and finding resources. It feels great to know that I belong here.
Hopkins is different. And it is our role to show this to the prospective students. In order to do so, we need people with creativity. We need people who can think outside the box and give Hopkins a distinct appeal to the prospective students. Commitment is also very important as well. Commitment is what makes us active on forums, blogs, and other projects we are working on. Personally, I would love to have people with diverse background to join us since we would very much like to be accessible to students with diverse interests and talents.
To be part of SAAB, you need to fill out the application provided during summer. SAAB members and Admissions_Daniel read all the applications and pick the applicants we would like to interview during the Hopkins orientation period. After the interview, SAABers and Daniel meet once again for the final deliberation.
SAAB is always evolving. We started with only a few people helping out during open houses, but now we are utilizing not only our own Hopkins Interactive website, but also blogs, Twitter, and even Youtube. We also connect through Facebook, creating Facebook groups for specific class years. The result is tremendous, almost every admitted students joining our groups and actively posting discussions and even planning meet-ups before actually coming to Hopkins! With our effort, Hopkins is more and more opening its arms to the prospective/admitted students and I feel honored to be part of this amazing, innovative group of people.
If you are interested, get your application next summer! We are so eager to meet you!
When I was applying to
colleges I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to major in. I was sort of torn between chemistry,
physics, chemical engineering, or mechanical engineering. I just sort of blindly picked chemical engineering for my applications and stuck with it. After my first semester in college, I know I
made the right choice in majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular
Engineering. You can also read about my experience as a female engineering student here. ChemBE is a mixture of aspects
from all disciplines including chemistry, physics, biology, math, and
In oversimplified terms chemical engineering is the process of creating more valuable chemical compositions from less valuable raw chemicals. In actuality, the discipline is much broader than that, and it ranges from fields of biomedical research to petroleum science!
What drew me to
ChemBE is a really special
major in that you can pretty much do any job with it. Your freshman year you
can take a course if you're interested, and it is required for the major, that
is called Chemical Engineering Today. In the course every week a different
speaker comes in and talks about what they do with their degree in ChemBE.
Everyone from a patent lawyer to a guy from a company that makes hydrogen fuel
cells and a senior researcher at the center of oncology at the
Chemical Engineering is a hard program no doubt. You will take some of hardest courses at
You pretty much take a lot of everything for the major, including a good amount
of physics, chemistry, and three semesters of calc and one semester of differential equations.
After you have completed these intro level courses, you take mostly upper level chemical engineering that focus on various subjects such as reaction kinetics, mass transfer, and seperation processes. Most students begin to take courses within the department starting their sophomore year, but if you enter with enough credits you can start as early as first semester freshmen year. So if you're interested in that good stuff, great! If you know what it means, even better! Check out the major requirements
A lot of the upper level courses are very oriented in preparing students for
Hopkins also has great relationships with chemical engineering firms such as Merck and Genetech(creators of tamiflu!). There are always oppurtunities for summer internships with many, many firms. Internships are a great way to see if you are more interested in the industry side of the field or the research, and they can also help you decide what to persue after graduation.
There are 3 concentrations:
molecular and cellular bioengineering, nanotechnology, and none. They really
overlap a lot, and for the most part are pretty much identical. The usually
differ based on one or two courses, such as cell biology. The “easiest”
of the 3 is no concentration, and this is more like your "classical
I am a molecular and cellular bioengineering major, but who knows I may flip-flop as the years pass. I am not really sure what I’ll be doing after graduation, but I am really interested in doing research, so I am leaning towards graduate school. Ultimately, I entered an engineering program to become an engineer! After all that is why you get a degree in engineering, right?
One thing about ChemBe is, unlike some other majors but similar to other engineering disciplines, it is pretty difficult to double major. It is possible of course, depending on how many advanced placement credits you come in with and how many credits you want to take at a time. I am currently looking into either double majoring or minoring in mathematics, but Chemical Engineering always comes first!
JHU has a very active AICHE
chapter and chemical engineering car club. Check it out here:http://jhuaiche.org/.
We are hosting the national conference this year, which is a huge deal!
I am really happy with my choice in major. The department is like my little home away from home. The professors are very friendly as well as other undergraduates. I am very excited to take my first course within the department next semester, Chemical and Biological Process Analysis!
- Cate Watkins
- Cate Watkins
I think a lot can be said about a person from a first impression. However, I think a lot more is left unsaid.
I have always been a little
ashamed, and to a point still am today, of admitting exactly what I am and what
I do. I get a large range of reactions,
especially outside of
I’ve been told that I’m not really a stereotypical engineering type. But what is a stereotypical engineering type? Is it the male with big glasses, sloppily dressed, coffee-chugging, croc-wearing, socially awkward type? I don’t know many people who fit into that stereotype anyways. Maybe it’s a shock that there is something in my skull, not just empty space. Maybe it is a bummer that dumb blond jokes won’t apply.
It’s almost as if society views being feminine, female, and an engineer as a forbidden quantum triplet state. Even though quantum mechanics claims that a triplet state is impossible, it occurs. In life there are always people to prove our preconceived notions wrong. So maybe I am some sort of living dichotomy, a natural Frankenstein, of abstract-minded romantic and a systematic logician. I am a Barbie-blonde cookie-cutter creation of femininity and a rebel fighting to fit in a male-dominant world. So if I could chose two words to stereotype myself, I would chose female engineer.
These two words imply
strength and courage, characteristics I feel I lack some days. Sometimes, it is difficult looking around in
my courses just to realize that there is no one else that looks like me.
Sometimes you look around and realize you’re the only girl in the room, or
maybe one of few and you get this sense of solidarity. Sometimes I think
maybe I am alone in this dichotomy and in these ambitions, but then again I
believe no one is alone.
Throughout high school my dreams changed. I wanted to be a freelance writer, I wanted to be a hair stylist, and I wanted to be a jazz musician. Honestly, I think I could have followed any of those dreams. In the end, when I was really serious about looking at schools, I started to think about what I am capable of. I had always been interested in science. My dad, who is literally the real life Doc Brown (from back to the future), always had a good array of chemicals for me to play with when I was little. From spilling bottles of mercury on my kitchen floor just to watch the scattering of tiny metallic orbs, to throwing pure sodium in water in my backyard, to my clever use of platinum wire in my freshman sludge project, chemistry and I always had a dynamic relationship.
Not many people get the
opportunity to do what I do. Some people are just not programmed to be
engineers, some people just can’t do math, and some things just don’t
click. I am really fortunate to be one of the people, where things
aligned just right, and I do have the opportunity to pursue something like
Chemical Engineering. I think, well gosh darn it; if I am capable of this
I should do it. This is not to say I’m perfect by any means. I’ll
never be the girl with the 4.0 and extraordinary extracurriculars.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if my name shows up in the local paper on the
Dean’s List, I’ll I care about is learning. It’s what I love, and what I
am here for. Maybe other students have different plans; whether it is a
lucrative job post graduation or acceptance into a fancy medical school, but
for me the more challenging the material the better and I am here for the next
challenge. Maybe this makes me some sort of masochistic super nerd, but
it’s who I am.
There are so many statistics and figures that try to prove that maybe women will never be as academically capable at men. No matter what you read, you can’t shape yourself to fit into what others will claim. Nobody wants to be another point on the curve, you have to push yourself to be an outlier to this data set; you have to give yourself a chance. It may feel like you’re an outsider in the good ol’ boys clubs. It may feel like you don’t belong. Ultimately, it is up to you to convince yourself that you do. I honestly believe that there is no intellectual difference between men and women. In fact, I bet I can do anything a man can do just as well, maybe even better.
I feel that girls spend so
much time cutting each other down. From a “she’s too fat comment” to a
snide “that dress is hideous” muttered blurb. It’s unfortunate the
sometimes girls spend so much time and energy cutting each other down instead
of using that effort to come together as a gender. Some people think that
the women’s rights movement ended decades ago, but I can feel that it is still
very alive today. Maybe in all the laws and legislature men and women are
equal, but in everyday life exists discrimination and generalizations that
prevent true equitable treatment. This
inequality exists not only in the field of science, or higher education, or the
work place. It is in everyday living we have to endure the ignorance of
others, have to contest the stereotypes, and fight not to perpetuate
When I look back at all the adults in my life that pushed me further into academia, I am really truly grateful for all that they have done, despite my ignorance at moments. I remember one day in physical science lab in my freshman year of high school, a group of friends and I were joking around laughing about how women couldn’t be engineers. Our teacher overheard us and lectured us about how women are just as capable as men and they should pursue engineering. This teacher pushed me individually into pursuing science, telling me that I could go anywhere I wanted, be anything I wanted, and not to let anyone hold me back.
I also think back to an interview I had my senior year with an alumni of my high school. She told me about nearly fifty years ago, when she attended my high school, how she was one of the first girls to ever take physics at the school. The teacher would lecture the few girls in the course how women were intellectually incapable of studying physics, and he would unfairly grade their work.
These two instances both haunt my memory and inspire me to never give up in my ambitions. I think about these two memories all the time.
I am so fortunate to exist
at this point in time. I am granted so
many opportunities that never existed for women before. I am the first female in my family to pursue
a degree in natural sciences, and I am the first person in my family to pursue
a degree in engineering. I want to be the first person in my family to
get a PhD, so that would make me the
I realize that sometimes the factors that are small and seemingly insignificant truly can affect the path we choose in life. It’s the little things and places that we submerse ourselves that shape us into the adults we will become. From a Merck Index on my bookshelf since before I could read and a particle accelerator in my basement from before I knew what an atom was, I can see now that I am in so many ways just a product of the environment I was raised in. Maybe we are just like elementary particles and where we go with our lives is just a product of probability and pure chance. I never chose my parents, or my eye color, or my hometown. I never chose to be female.
So we can take what chance
has given us, but we can also make cognizant decisions about how exactly we can
play the hand that we’ve been dealt. We
have to think about what we are capable of, what we can change, what we can do
to make the world we live in a better place.
I am pursuing a degree in
chemical engineering not just to follow my own dream. I do it for all the women in the decades
before me that couldn’t pursue this dream.
For the girls at my high school fifty years ago that were told they
weren’t capable of learning physics. For
the housewives decades ago who wanted to build bridges and buildings, not just
stare at them through a kitchen window.
For the adolescent girls who think playing unintelligent garners the
affection of the opposite sex. For my
potential future daughters, granddaughters, and nieces.
To me engineering is so much more than a list of courses, a set of skills, or a degree. It’s a symbol for something broader and much more meaningful. It’s a way for me to make society a better a place, to protest the discrimination I have endured, to further the hard work of women before me, and to give girls in future generations, who dream of being anything, a better, more accepting world to follow their aspirations.
Posted by: Daniel R.
It’s been awhile, so I thought I may as well give y’all an update on life at Hopkins. As you may know, at Hopkins we have an intersession, a three-week period when a few one or two hour (funfunfunfun) classes are offered pass/fail for everyone. Because classes are so relaxed, intersession’s a lot of fun, and there’s so much less stress than during the regular semester. Also, because it’s a short amount of time, we also have a lot of freedom to choose classes, in that we can go for a class we otherwise wouldn’t have gone for – think like a BME kid taking a poetry class, for instance. There’s a lot of experimentation in that regard, and it’s pretty fun.
I’m taking a one-credit course entitled “The Ethnic Gangster in American Cinema.” Basically, we look at gangster films with protagonists of different ethnicities. We’re watching three for the course: “The Godfather” (1972 version), “Scarface” (Brian DePalma, 70’s version), and “American Gangster.” I enjoyed all three of these films, and the class discussions have been really chilled out and fun. Most of all, it’s sort of awesome to have to watch like “The Godfather” for homework. There are worse assignments – trust me. Our grade rests on one 4-6 page paper, which I really should start thinking about.
Besides that class, which meets at night, I’m working full time in the Undergraduate Admissions mailroom, where I open and sort and open and sort and open and sort (what seems like all of your) application components. When you (or your high school) mail any application materials, they initially get sorted before being read by the Admissions committee. I’m one of the like ten student workers who open and sort the mail along with some part-time and full-time Admissions Operations staff. Our role is to sort all the mail so the documents can be scanned and indexed, and ultimately make complete online files for the Admissions staff to review. We’re also starting to get the Candidate Reply Forms from the ED admits, which spices things up (transcripts and teacher recs do get dull). I feel sort of obliged to tell everyone who’s worrying about their application to chill if they haven’t heard back if we got everything – we get a ton of mail, and it takes some time to open and sort everything =].
[don’t believe me on the amount of mail? believe me now]
Besides that, though, not much is going on during intersession. Not quite everyone’s back – including my roommate – so it’s a little quiet, but this is counterbalanced by the fact that nobody really has any homework. I’m getting good at enough at Wii Tennis to give Federer a scare, and when I’m not doing that, a lot of SAABers are back, so I’ve been chilling with JHU_Cate and JHU_Sarah pretty often.