Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Is it worth it?
This school is full of opportunities. It is one of the foremost technology and research hubs in the world. It is full of Noble Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, geniuses, innovators, and CEOs. But after what was arguably the worst winter in the history of the city, and my hardest semester, there were a lot of times when I questioned by decision to come here. While being an undergraduate here is a great opportunity, it is also a huge sacrifice for me and my family.
But this was also the first semester where the sacrifice felt worthwhile, and 20.109 was a big part of that. I was pushed to my limits when writing the Mod 2 report, and after 30+ hours of work, I produced the highest quality technical paper I’ve ever written. With every quiz and pre-lab lecture, I was forced to think deeply about protocol I would have otherwise blindly followed, and in the process gained a much deeper appreciation for the experiments we were doing in lab. I got experience in crafting my own stories and figuring out where my data fit in the world of prior scientific literature and open questions in the field. I got to perform a wide variety of techniques, which most people have to learn by spending months or years rotating through different labs. I got experience in critiquing the work of others through our journal club presentations and having my own ideas critiqued. Through our research proposal, I taught myself more than thought I could learn in two weeks about tuberculosis, phage display, time management and group collaboration. I got emotional at the end of my final presentation with my partner, who I spent more time with this semester than my roommate. I got goosebumps when I saw the phage nanocomposites for our solar cell at a resolution on the order of nanometers. And I got to feel like a real scientist for the first time.
This class was often time-consuming, sometimes painful, but definitely worthwhile.