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MIT student blogger Bryan O. '07

Didn’t You Graduate? by Bryan

I refuse to accept my new label...kind of.

I’ll begin with a flashback.

Scene: On my way back from my daily trip to get fruit snacks from the vending machine. Bryan runs into friend who had been participating in the Cambridge-MIT Exchange the last year.

Bryan: Hey, long time no see. How was Cambridge?
Friend: I really liked it, but I’m glad to be back.
Bryan: Cool.
Friend: Weren’t you supposed to have graduated by now? What happened?
Bryan: I’m actually starting grad school.
Friend: Oh that’s better.
Bryan: Right.
Friend: OK, well I’ll talk to you later.
Bryan: …

</end awkward situation>

zomg ben jones – blogger alum?!?!?!? did you really have to remind me? Can I at least be Bryan O. ’07, ’12?

So the purpose of this entry is to somewhat reintroduce myself and talk about life post MIT at MIT.

I graduated June 8 and I was in lab on June 9. Welcome to graduate school! (I actually chose not to take the summer off) Enough sarcasm though, I’ve really enjoyed my research and being able to continue looking at unanswered questions that I now have time to dedicate to. This summer, I’ve been working for my UROP advisor, Linda Griffith, with a variety of projects pertaining to our central goal of developing a high throughput bioreactor for tissue engineering applications.

Aside from my time in lab, I’ve been learning how to cook and clean and all of the other skills required of adulthood. OH — and if you think you can do everything at MIT in four years, I’ve actually done something that I never once did while an undergrad — SAILING!

I officially start graduate school in a week pursuing my PhD in Biological Engineering. I graduated from MIT in June with my BS in Mechanical Engineering — so it is possible to switch fields. And it also is possible to stay at MIT for grad school if you were an MIT undergrad. So hopefully, my graduation date will be the same as those of you who are applying for admission to the Class of 2012! By the time I graduate, I will have spent 1/3 of my life at MIT. This will be the longest I’ve ever spent at one educational institution in my life. I went to 2 different elementary schools, 3 different middle schools, and 2 different high schools. And maybe if I’m cool enough, I can become an MIT Lifer (you just found out one of my secret life goals — GASP).

One of the most challenging things as of late has been graduating but still staying at the same place. Part of growing up is knowing when it’s time to part ways with things that are still fond to your heart in order to move forward. So with that said, my days of partying and running here and there from event to event may be fewer and far between. Even though I’m still a student, graduate school is somewhat an apprenticeship in which you prepare yourself for a career in research and since I’d like to go into academia, I need to be focused.

With that said, there are certain things that I cannot part ways with because they still remain to be very important to me. One of those things is this blog. I can’t tell you how many people told me not to apply to MIT because of the “weird people” they believed to be at MIT. Not to say that I don’t have personal quirks like any other human being, MIT is great place to learn, see, and do. That is a fact that does not change depending on your status, undergrad/grad/alum/faculty/staff. I look forward to coming to school, meeting really interesting people, and challenging myself further. That attitude is part of what makes MIT the place that it is. Everyone has energy and is motivated by something. However, now that I’m graduated, I think I may focus more on things that are more abstract and not about events and activities.

Another aspect of my life that I cannot part with is the community that helped me through my undergraduate experience, my fraternity. One of my biggest pieces of advice about college is that you find a community in which you feel you belong and will support you. I’m not going to lie and say it’s a cakewalk. MIT is challenging, there’s no doubt about that, but having people who are willing to be there by your side is really important. Recognizing that graduate school would provide a similar amount of challenges as undergrad, I felt that having a community that even as a grad student would remain to be supportive was a crucial and important thing to me. However, don’t expect Old School 2 out of me. I’m going to be helping them out with advice, career planning, and general getting through MIT skills (you can call me a grandpa, it’s okay)

So as I enter this new phase at MIT, I’m excited by the challenges that will face me and I’m excited to meet new people. For those of you arriving on campus or for those of you have already arrived, grad students don’t bite, so say hi if you ever see me around. I’ll want to take breaks from lab eventually :) And for those of you applying, I’m in a privileged situation in which I got to apply to MIT … twice, so I’ve had two times as many application seasons, scholarship applications, and challenging decisions to make when it comes to selecting a school. So even though I’m not an undergrad anymore, I’m still MIT through and through and will try with the new chapter of entries that I will write to talk about what I’ve gained from my education, lessons you learn at MIT, and what it’s like to be here even at age 22. And I’ll throw in some throwback entries every now and then/all the entries I wish I had written when I was still an undergrad.



16 responses to “Didn’t You Graduate?”

  1. Edgar says:

    I feel certain, well… a huge motivation from this blog, not only because you are pursuing similar goals as mine, but because it is simply naturally motivating. It makes me imagine the extraordinary place that MIT is. Thanks a lot, and enjoy another 5 years, or the rest of your life at MIT!
    You know what also would be really cool, if you told us more about the research you do, and the problems you are trying to solve.

  2. Hawkins '12 says:

    I’ll be 22 as a freshman! =O

    Anyway, glad to hear you’re still blogging. And it’s good to know that people still enjoy Tech enough to want to be MIT^3. =)

  3. Ben P. says:

    It’s great that you are still blogging! I’ll be interested to read about MIT from your grad school student perspective. Good luck with grad school!

  4. Mollie says:

    2012? Don’t you think that’s a little optimistic? wink

    I’ve had people start asking me already when I’m going to be done. It’s completely and totally obnoxious. I mean, how am I supposed to know? Why don’t you ask my mice?

  5. Arkajit says:

    Yay, I’m glad you’re going to keep blogging! That’s awesome. =)

  6. Vytautas says:

    Well Bryan, I really hope we graduate from MIT together :D

  7. Ronny CHEN says:

    Hopefully I’m gonna graduate from MIT in the year in which you’ll graduate from your graduate school.

    still applying…

  8. Isshak says:

    What ? You are an interviewer ? Do you mind asking MIT to pay you a trip to Paris to interview me ? I am sure they won’t mind, and you won’t mind either, will you?
    But I don’t understand, do students usually study somewhere else for their graduate studies ? Why not stay in MIT ?

  9. maia '11 says:

    Now that I’m here, I can completely understand why you’d want to stay. Utterly and completely.

  10. Paul '11 says:

    Grandpa Bryan…has a nice ring to it. wink

    On another note, yay bioengineering. You probably will be my TA someday.

    And that’s about all the profundity I have for tonight. Building robots + exploring Boston + socializing = very tired Paul.

  11. Wings '11 says:

    I’m glad you’ll keep blogging.
    AND YOU’RE INTERVIEWING?! Awesome! Don’t scare the prefrosh… much =P

  12. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations, Bryan! You’re one of the lucky ones who manage to stay in MIT longer.

    And that’s one of my dreams too. I’m an international student and I’d like to do my undergraduate (and graduate) studies in MIT. So I’m going to apply for the MIT freshman admissions for the class of 2012.

    But I’ve got a query, and I hope someone here can answer it (yeah, that’s another reason for this response). I would like to get the test and/or application fee waivers (I’ll also apply for financial aid), but as an international student testing outside the U.S., I’m not eligible for the SAT fee waivers and the SAT Request for Waiver of College Application Fee forms. So (I think) I have no choice but to pay the SAT fee (which is more for international students), but I saw on the MIT Admissions website that students can get the MIT application fee waiver if their high school guidance councellor, pricipal, etc. writes an official letter to MIT on the their behalf.

    So, what should I ask my high school principal to write in the letter? I asked the same thing in an email to MIT International Admissions, but their response (which was not too informative) just said that my principal should write a letter “stating my financial need”.

    How should my financial need be stated? Should details about my family’s total annual income, no. of family members, etc. be stated? Or should something else be written?

  13. Hawkins '12 says:

    @Anonymous – The following is from an old entry of Matt‘s:

    “… a letter from your school certifying that the application fee poses a financial hardship to your family is just as good as an Official College Board Fee Waiver. We are happy to waive the application fee for anyone who cannot afford it. But don’t try excuses like this one (paraphrased actual but ultimately unsuccessful attempt an excuse): ‘My family cannot afford the application fee because we are putting all of our money into building our vacation house right now.'”

    From the sound of it, your principal just needs to convey that for whatever reason (e.g., low income) the application fee poses a financial hardship for your family. I don’t believe exact figures are necessary. But I’m not staff, so… Wait for one of them to post for a more concrete answer. =)

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  16. Aakriti says:

    I am not being able to submit my application online bcoz it again and again says that the credit card number is not valid.I even called the credit card ppl…No one seems to know what is going wrong.I am very upset now.Can anyone help me?

    If you are still in MIT when i get in…i’ll personally thank you…with a gift