Campus Life

PREFROSH — CLASS OF 2015 Finding the right match

CPW confirmed that MIT would be the best place for me

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My name is Jessica Yang, and I’m from Richard Montgomery High School in a suburb of Washington, D.C. For fun, I play recreational soccer, bake desserts, and teach elementary school kids science through my nonprofit, Kids Are Scientists Too, Inc. I also enjoy reading various manga, managing our high school newspaper, and watching House. I like simple things, like walking in the rain or sitting on a patch of grass and reading. I’m really excited about attending MIT — but next semester, I think I could substitute the grass with a snow chair.

Click. Check. Click. In the span of a few seconds, I went from being an undecided high school senior to a member of the MIT Class of 2015. As the confirmation screen loaded, I optimistically imagined attending an insanely difficult — yet rewarding — physics class, seeing a Saturday night show in Boston, or just hanging out with friends in a floor lounge, debating an insignificant topic with intricate precision. I began to really look forward to college.

I applied regular decision to MIT, and although I don’t like to worry, I began subconsciously counting down the days 21 days before Pi Day — and admissions decisions. It seemed like the birds that chirped outside my window every Friday afternoon in February were telling me of March looming around the corner. Another time I paid $14 for dinner with a friend — it’s almost the 14th! Most torturous was when I needed to sell “pi-grams” (like candy grams) for a school club. I was constantly required to answer the question “When will the pi-grams be delivered?” (Answer: in “x” days, on Pi Day). Each time I winced and wanted to hide under my 2010 calendar.

On the afternoon of March 14, I prepared 10 admissions status page tabs, pre-loaded with my username and password already typed in. My heart pounded as the NIST official U.S. clock struck 9:26 p.m., and I clicked the submit button on my first tab … then the second tab … then the third tab … then the fourth tab, which loaded. As soon as I saw the words, “On behalf of the admissions committee it is my pleasure to offer,” I knew I was all set — that I had been good enough, that all those hours I had spent taking standardized tests and writing application essays had paid off, that all those hours I had spent worrying had been unnecessary. At 9:26:30 p.m., I celebrated by running around outside, submitted an order for super-supreme pizza, and began displaying symptoms of acute senioritis.

Choosing MIT was easy, as I had spent most of my childhood around scientists in Massachusetts and have always fantasized about attending. Eight years ago when my fourth grade teacher asked us about college, my rival at the time announced “I am going to Harvard!” I countered that I would go to MIT — which, by the way, “is way better.” So here I am.

I was pleasantly reassured at CPW. Everyone was so kind, down-to-earth, and very passionate about their interests and pursuits — it was an inspirational experience. Every day I felt somewhat intimidated by the building of microscopes in a bioengineering lab, the projects at the cognitive sciences center, the complete scaled model of Cambridge and its railroads, the expressive murals on the walls of East Campus, and all the vehicles and machines students built. Yet with each passing day I learned more and more, meeting amazing people and getting an increasing sense of belonging. I laughed when I found that an elevator in Simmons Hall plays music when the “2” and “><” buttons are simultaneously pressed, wishing I had thought of something like that. And one late evening some friends and I were exploring the halls when we ran into Edward J. Moriarty ’76, an instructor from the Edgerton Center, and had a thought-provoking conversation about many interesting topics, including science education outreach for young students. He was working with public school students in Cambridge and Alaska; I lead high school students in bringing science programs to elementary schools in Maryland. I was amazed because I had just randomly — on my second day at MIT — met somebody who was passionate about the exact same thing as me!

I am not yet sure what I want to major in, but I am interested in biology, physics, economics, and education. In the summer, I’m planning on taking some more bike rides on some woody trails, continuing research in a biomedical research lab, and playing more soccer with the neighborhood kids. I’m incredibly excited and extremely appreciative that I will get to join the MIT community this fall.