Campus Life guest column

A re-re-reflection on HackMIT

A reply from a writer of the past to an unexpected letter

Dear Susan,

I scarcely know how to write this…re-re-reflection, as it were. Thank you, for starters, for coming up with this inspired idea of writing a letter to an unknown alum from the annals of Campus Life. 

There is a lot I want to reflect back to you, so your editor is going to have to forgive me for a long-winded piece. I myself did my fair share of ruthless word-cutting during my tenures as news editor and editor-in-chief; at least this is Campus Life and AP Styleguide need not apply as strictly!) But I think age allows me some leeway for rambling — and I am veritably ancient, for I wrote that HackMIT piece when I was not yet 18; I am now 26. Ancient!

You wrote, “i know you can’t give me answers” — but, as chance would have it, a friend and fellow alum from French House conveyed news of your piece to me via the French House Slack, where your Executive Editor, a fellow Vivian, tried to @ me about it. Welcome to “what a small world,” which you will say and hear ad nauseam for years to come!

You probably didn’t really want, and certainly don’t need, any of the answers and unsolicited advice I’m about to spew forth. But since the powers of randomness have brought us together, I will offer my thoughts nonetheless, in the hopes that you will find at least a morsel of use — and, admittedly, for my own catharsis.

I think that’s all the questions! As you noted, HackMIT can leave you with a lot more than a non-to-partially functioning app, and I have reactions to offer on that front as well.

I’ll end where you ended: “this is getting too long, and i have a feeling that i know what your answer to all my questions would be: i’m going to have to figure it out myself. so, i guess, here goes!”

I think that, with such an attitude, you are fully equipped to take on the world! Just remember, and I think you already know: though we each have to walk our own path and find our own answers, we don’t need to do it alone. And as the aforementioned Chinese actor who provided me an excuse to stretch my coding muscles once said, when asked about difficult times in his life: “Every step is a part of your wealth; no one can replicate it or take it away.”

Reflection can at times be a scouringly painful thing, but I’m very grateful to you for giving me the impetus to do so. 

All the best,