Every time I look at the faces of younger MIT students, especially those that are just entering leadership positions in clubs or really starting to take on new and exciting coursework, I smile and think of all the things I would do if I could do MIT all over again.
In my four years at MIT, I've been the treasurer of Chinese Students Club, President of Ethiopian-Eritrean Students Association, and a founding member of my sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon (or as we like to call it, DPhiE). Within my sorority, I received a twin (Briana B. '17) rather than big or little, since we were founding members of the MIT chapter and were technically all the same class within the sorority--the founder class. We decided on an aspirational name for our family line--the Dynasty Family--that captured my hope that our chapter would thrive and grow after we left it (and reign for 1000 years).
Briana B. ‘17 (right) and I on the steps to Lobby 10
The current-day Dynasty family line. True to my wishes, it’s so big now that we’ve never been able to take a photo with truly everyone in it ^^;
And of course, I'm a blogger, and have gotten to know a little of the administrative side of MIT through my work, as well as participate in the wonderful, quirky community of writers that you have gotten to know through your screens.
These four activities were what I was most involved in, but during my sophomore year I would also be an active member of LuCHA, the Latin Students' Union (and no, I'm not at all Latina lol) by cooking with Spanish House which had many LuCHA members, attending a LuCHA meeting or two when I could, and planning the seniors graduation that year.
During my junior spring and senior year I became a lot more involved, also, in the MIT ASA (African Students' Association), distinct from EESA (though of course, like the actual country-continent relationship, there is a ton of overlap in membership and event turnout). Senior spring (the last few months) I interviewed several Africans that were doing amazing projects on the continent or were just cool and awesome people, and in getting to know them and others better, I grew really excited about the ASA community. At ASA's Senior Night event, I saw and met many underclassmen faces that I knew only from our (in?)famous group chat. Seeing how excited and ambitious they were made me proud of all our communities and the future of them. (I sometimes worry I get way too excited to see underclassmen compared to how well I know them, actually, and that they might think I'm weird... ^^;)
A group photo from ASA Senior night
Despite how involved I was in so many different communities, what I am thinking in these last days as an undergraduate is, still, that I only wish I could have participated even more. It's really true what people say--I'm not wishing I'd studied more, or that I had taken different classes (although I still have a few traumatic memories of 6.006) or even that I had performed more research. What I'm thinking about are all the people that have touched my heart here, and how even in my final semester at MIT, I discovered new friends and new communities to love, and how quickly I have found the love returned. In DPhiE we have a saying that's typically repeated during recruitment: people join people. Even at this highly technical school, the people are truly what make it incredible, and nothing here happens without them.
People make MIT...both literally and figuratively!
My first post ever on the blogs was called "Home Sweet College", where I had talked about being a scared, homesick freshman, and how being away from home had really shaken my internal compass in a way I completely had not expected. Now, 4 years later, MIT has truly become my home. I have lived here, grown up here, and found family here.
Amber G. ‘18, former CSC president, and I, former treasurer
The seniors of New House 4, where I lived for most of undergrad.
Similar to when I left my family in Denver, I didn't realize how much I would miss MIT as my home until the very last couple weeks before the end of classes. I teared up at the Black graduate celebration, at ASA Senior night, and really had to struggle not to cry publicly when Brook E. '18 and I were ambushed by congratulatory cake and cards at our last EESA event of the semester. It's ironic, and in a way proves something to me, that I still feel this way even though next year I'll actually be only a few blocks away from campus, and working at a small robotics company in Allston. I had felt at 18 that even if I'd gone to college in Colorado, I still would have felt that displacement of "home", and now at 22, starting my career only a few blocks from MIT but still preparing to miss it, I know I was right. Big transitions in life aren’t only about physical distance, or at least not for me.
Brook E. ‘18 and I, in front of a coffee shop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (!!) we were miraculously both there over IAP at the same time.
From left to right, myself, Meseret K. ‘18, and Brook E. ‘18 at ring delivery when we got our brass rats~
The seniors of Chinese Students’ Club
But like I know my family will always be there for me, I console myself by looking forward to what I'm joining next. A huge network of alumni that I will no doubt tap into, for example, and time to participate in the greater Boston community. I look forward to being a sort of big sister to my student groups rather than a member of them, as I know alumni in the area who are still active in little ways they find appropriate, like inviting people over to their apartments, or coming back for certain events to talk about life after college, and supporting the big, publicly advertised galas or banquets or concerts. The EESA has been trying to create a bigger tutoring and mentoring program for Boston-area Ethiopian and Eritrean kids, and I hope I can become a sort of liaison for that.
I gave a talk earlier this spring about my experience at MIT at the MIT Scholarship and UROP brunch, an event for students and donors to financial aid--many of whom are alumni. Hearing how they talked about the courses they were and where they lived and what buildings have changed--these alumni felt, somehow, like my classmates too, even with a much greater difference in age. Like seeing features of yourself mirrored in relatives, many of the alumni I met just felt instinctively like "family".
Students and donors at a table of the UROP and Scholarship brunch. Chancellor Barnhart stands to the right of me.
I'm excited for bigger, broader parts of my life too. Everywhere I have gone, I've found myself carving a unique path. I have never actually thought of myself as particularly unique, or even particularly innovative or trailblazing, but I realized recently that every milestone of my life, I have felt pulled toward starting something new and different and witnessed its continued success.
I entered high school and, with the help of my co-captain and parents, got a few thousand dollars in funding to start our school's very first FIRST Robotics team. Now they regularly make it to two regionals and sometimes the world competition. My senior year I added a service component to our FIRST team because I'd planned to visit Ethiopia that summer after graduating. I'd found this amazing initiative (on tumblr of all places): a skateboarding-centered organization called Megabi skate reducing child homelessness in Addis Ababa. I cold-emailed the founder, Israel Dejene, and got our team to fundraise by tabling at school and collecting used skateboards for Megabi Skate in Ethiopia, which I brought there, in suitcases, to the kids myself.
I entered college and started (and completed!) the Muti Water Project, a two-year effort to add a clean water source to my relatives' region in rural, southern Ethiopia. I founded the MIT chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon, with my many other founding sisters. I revitalized the EESA with Brook--which in turn fostered the exchange of ideas and excitement about Ethiopian-Eritrean culture on MIT’s campus, and enabled more projects as a team. We ran our first tutoring program for Boston-area Ethiopian and Eritrean children in Summer 2017. I tutored 6th grade math.
While wrapping up my time here, I got so excited about simply capturing what all my amazing classmates were doing in their projects, and wrote about them here, on the blogs. I hope I have, in these different ways, left a solid stamp on MIT that won't be soon forgotten.
Tutoring young Ethiopian students in Roxbury
Brook E., Pelkins A., Kifle W., Emmanuel A. ‘18 and I at the Black Graduate celebration
Miguel R. ‘17, Jen S. ‘18, Kayla T. ‘18, Trang N. ‘18, myself, and Javier W. Trinity College ‘17 at Senior Ball
Some of the DPhiE seniors at a senior week event, a winery tour.
Now that I am simply entering the world...you'll have to wait a few years, and see!
Thank you all so much for following my journey throughout the years. Though I will (mostly) end my career as a primary contributor to the blogs, I will never stop writing! So, if you’d like to keep on reading, you’ll be able to find many of my random thoughts and personal musings on my tumblr (selamie.tumblr.com), and my more polished, public-facing pieces on my newly created medium account (medium.com/@selamie). I will miss having such a wonderful community as we do on the blogs, but I hope heading out there to write on my own will be a good experience, too.
Selam G. ‘18