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COLUMN

A Participant’s Story

Kelvin Paulino

As we approach this new age of enlightenment and reason, now more than ever, we tend to forget the countless struggles that have existed in the past; those of sorrow and ignorance. As we commemorate Black History Month, it is disappointing to see that as we look into the horizon and take one step forward, we blind ourselves to the reality and take two steps back.

Although heartfelt by many at MIT, the changes made to the MITES and Project Interphase programs were shocking to say the least. As I write this, I remember back in April of 2001, still a junior in high school, when I received a large white envelope coming from 77 Mass. Ave. containing my admission to the MITES program. I would never have stepped inside that building had it not been for the program. Through the generosity of MIT and many corporate sponsors, and the tireless efforts of Karl Reid and fellow staff members, I shared an experience I will never forget.

It was a program dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in the statistically lopsided engineering profession. Not only did the program raise awareness, but it also created faith in a dream many of us students of color are rarely encouraged to pursue. Just to meet professors, doctors, engineers, and countless others who were achieving the dream, many of whom came from backgrounds much like ours, meant the world to many of us.

Not only was it amazing to be at MIT, something all of us occasionally take for granted, but it was all the more enlightening to share the experience with 79 other individuals that were much like each other and yet so different. The bonds formed during that short six-week period are still amazingly strong. The program essentially created a family whose roots extend throughout the United States, and at almost every elite university on the map. In retrospect, I could not imagine my life without having gone through the experience. Although I have faith that the academic integrity of both programs will continue to hold strong, I fear that the sense of community is at stake. I put my trust in the amazing staff of these two programs and in MIT, in hope that decade-old traditions of excellence and belief in a cause so great do not die, during such nebulous times for the heart of the MIT community and the nation.

Kelvin Paulino is a member of the class of 2006.