The hallways of my high school have emptied, the Class of 2011 has graduated, and I have reached the plateau linking a conquered challenge and the beginning of an intimidating journey. But while everything academic from high school has come to a final, satisfying halt, I’m still trying to conclude an equally significant portion of my life for the past four years: extracurriculars. I’m the type of person who can’t sit still atop a colossal mound of ideas. I was always going out to organize events, start traditions, and sign up for activities, but now I am struggling to bid my favorite things farewell.
Saying goodbye — one by one — to everything I have grown so comfortably fond of feels really strange. First was soccer: I love sports, and while I am not inherently gifted, I have been playing with the same team for the past seven seasons. We can all relate to doing the same thing with the same group of awesome people three times a week for the past three and a half years. I have a room full of pictures and mementos and a mind full of inside jokes and memories. My ankle still hurts from that one slide tackle. But we had a pool party last week, and the realization that we would probably never again play together finally sunk in. I would have cried, but I was eating ice cream.
I’m feeling apprehensive thinking about having to leave my year-long internship at the National Institutes of Health, even though summer is just beginning. Even when I’m sitting at home on my days off, I can almost see the over-cluttered shelves, hear the biofreezers buzzing, and smell the damp hint of the cell culture media. There’s half a mini-fridge of my samples and reagents that the next intern will have to figure out. I love my binder of protocols, and I wish I could take my original lab notebook with me. Optimistically speaking, I’ve still got six weeks left and could probably find a similar niche at MIT if I chose to.
During Campus Preview Weekend, I stopped to rest at a bookstore and looked at an assortment of college transition books. The Naked Roommate dictated odd, unexpected wisdoms, such as how one should act upon encountering a naked roommate. Other, more mainstream books talked about the increased pressures of college and the danger of trying to do everything. I suddenly remembered the alumni visitations at our high school, when we found that there was just something very different about the immature, naive high school seniors that had left in recent years — they brought back an ominous aura of weary sophistication. With unspoken words they seemed to carry the message that everything from high school changes in college.
My most significant challenge is actually figuring out the future of a company I founded as a high school junior to bring science education opportunities to elementary school students — Kids Are Scientists Too, Inc, (KAST). Created from just an idea, we became an entire organization of passionate high school students working toward STEM education. It is a significant part of who I am. Through KAST I learned about networking, professionalism, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and the indescribable meaning of true leadership; the people I worked with have also became some of my closest friends. When it came time to write college essays, nothing else could come close as a testament to where in life I was and how I got there. As the dawn of life at MIT approaches, a question I still cannot answer is whether I have to leave all of this behind.
From my experiences, I believe that regardless of how long we’ve known somebody, or how much we stay involved, or what kind of work we’ve done, our impact will remain forever. The things we have done will have chain reactions, spreading to affect more people and do more good for the world. Some of the people I trained will set new directions, the ideas I left behind will become major projects, and the work I started will be continued and finished. For now, I have big plans for KAST, but I’m also ready to move on.