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A Look at Infinite Possibilities

Freshman Shares Optimism over Opportunities under the Dome

By Diana S. Cheng

I feel like I’m floating on a dream cloud. Every time I learn something else about MIT I am even more excited about starting academic and extracurricular life here.

I’m thrilled to learn about the formal and informal academic support networks which are available. At my high school, National Honor Society and language honor societies supposedly provided tutors, but students who requested tutors rarely received the help they need.

Here at MIT, I heard about sophomores who grade papers for freshmen courses in the Experimental Study Group and juniors who serve as Teaching Assistants. When I was trying to get a certificate to see my academic record on the website, an upperclassmen offered to help me.

Although I became lost several times in MIT’s corridors, I was delighted to find hallway displays that gave glimpses of various topics. For example, I saw mathematical displays while heading toward the music secretary’s office. The Academic Resources and UROP offices’ colorful posters piqued my interest as well.

The Infinite Corridor seems to serve as the advertising place for various organizations, and glancing at these can be an exciting way to explore new opportunities.

Indeed the possibilities seem to be infinite. At an ESG orientation group, I said I was interested in fractals. Director Holly Sweet asked the other freshmen in the group if they shared the same interest, and many of them raised their hands. Ms. Sweet said she’d post a signup sheet for anyone who was interested in attending a seminar about fractals. I thought, a seminar could be started so easily?

I’d like to try several new activities. From the Association of Student Activities booklet, I heard about and am interested in praise dance. Precision skating sounds fun, too; I’ve taken ice skating lessons but haven’t performed with a group.

One of several activities that I hope to continue at MIT is gymnastics. I’m glad that the MIT gymnastics coach allows beginners to learn; if I had attended other college, I wouldn’t be talented enough to compete.

I’m impressed that so many undergraduates and faculty went out of their way to welcome freshmen. Upperclassmen applied to serve as Orientation Leaders, and the Program Directors must have spent loads of time organizing this entire Orientation Week. In general, seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds are hard to please. However, these leaders took on the challenge to keep over a thousand freshmens’ attention spans at assemblies throughout the week.

At my temporary housing in French House, the residents gave me a tour, bought cereal they labelled “For Freshmen,” baked three batches of cookies so far, and gave me a bag of candy.

Today, I began to notice that MIT is driven on past MIT students coming back because they believe so much in the university. In ESG, alumni are mentoring new freshmen. The Freshman Alumni Summer Internship Program was created so that current and former MIT students can interact. I read Tech Online and found out that this summer, Buzz Aldrin, an MIT alumnus, came on campus to sign the book he wrote.

I feel so honored to be living in this community of discoveries. Professor Nancy Kanwisher shared some of her research in the Brain and Cognitive Science department. If her research was so intriguing and that was only a tiny picture of one department’s work, how much more developments must take place at MIT! Through a link from the ESG website, I discovered that Yvonne Lai, who will be a senior at MIT and who graduated from my high school, gained recognition for her mathematics research from last summer. At a panel during Campus Preview Weekend, a biology major said that she couldn’t talk too much about her UROP because she and her professor were applying for a patent.

Although I don’t know how yet, I can be confident that I have the potential to contribute too.