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MIT student blogger Keri G. '10

Life, or Why I’m Afraid Of It by Keri G. '10

1) Isn't everyone?

Hey there. I know you’ve all missed my gorgeous face.


(From my 4.341 project last fall.)

All right, maybe “gorgeous” is a bit of a stretch.

I’ve been floating around this school for the last couple of months doing student-type things (going to classes, sleeping very little, forgetting to wipe the crusted drool off my face before going to classes) and doing me-type things (takin’ the pictures, rockin’ the radio, fallin’ down surprisingly few flights of stairs) – you know, the usual. I’d say you’ve been missing out, but I’m really not interesting enough for anyone to miss out on my daily nonantics.

Speaking of boring, I had a four-hour shift at Senior Haus Desk yesterday afternoon. (I kid, I kid. I love Senior Haus. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.) This stretch of time is perfect for when I need to get a solid amount of work done, even though it usually turns into a marathon Futurama-watching session. I’m using my IAP time to catch up on my nonrequired reading. Today’s read was One Day, All Children…, by Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America. The book goes through the process of developing the program, building and expanding it, and how to work in schools across America to change how children learn.

I applied to Teach for America in October, and I received the book as a gift from MIT’s TfA recruitment director after I made it to the final interview round. I find out whether or not I’ve been accepted on Thursday, and the rest of my life is mostly on hold until then. Hanna and Liz (both ’10s) want to know if I still want to live with them next year, but apartment-hunting is contingent upon my being in the Boston area after June. I don’t know where I’ll be living. I don’t know what I’ll be doing. I hate answering questions from my friends and family about this. Let me pass on that message to all friends and relatives of current college seniors: We hate it when you ask us about these things.

This is really not the best way to go about planning for the future. I have, however, pre-registered for the spring semester, which is really as far ahead as I’m comfortable thinking about right now. (Don’t be surprised. I just said I’m afraid of life way up at the top of this post.)

Anyway, a long-ish time ago in a land far-ish away, I went to high school in a low-income area of Fort Lauderdale with a magnet program, and the extreme disparity between the quality of education in the magnet and the mainstream classes was one of the more disturbing things I’ve experienced. My AP Physics class shared a classroom with a remedial reading class; the reading class had the room for the period before AP Physics, and the materials left in the classroom and written on the board revealed that the teacher could barely spell basic words correctly. In some of the larger, more basic math classes, students who could have done well in a more challenging course were barely noticed while the teachers tried to work with students who were even farther behind.

I’ve had a multitude of amazing opportunities at MIT, and I’ve heard from a person or two that this college ain’t half bad. (Am I right?) But every time I think about the last four years, I also think about how the people I knew (and the thousands more I don’t know) who had the potential to have their own college experience but weren’t able to overcome the odds against them, and that’s really not acceptable. I want to see students succeed even after years of being told that they can’t, and I want to help make that happen. Sure, that’s idealistic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

Here’s the thing, though: I’m scared. I’m terrified that I’ll fail. I’ve tried to do things and failed at them before – take, for example, everything related to 18.02 ever – but if I fail at something like this, I’m not the only one who has to deal with the consequences. That feeling of responsibility for someone else’s future only makes everything even more terrifying. And if this doesn’t work out, then what happens? This is something I care about a lot and really want to do with my life, and when I try to think of my future in a way that doesn’t involve teaching, it’s one scary-looking blank.

I am (understandably?) a little jealous when I think about my friends who know what they want to do with their lives and are already doing it, as opposed to sitting around in the overly neurotic state of limbo that has been my last two months.

I realize that I haven’t written about any of this yet; my last post is from the day before I submitted my Teach for America application. TfA isn’t the only path towards becoming a teacher, but it’s a program that shares many of the same ideas and ambitions that I have. I’m worried that I won’t be accepted, and I’ve been afraid of putting myself out there on the blogs because of the possible letdown. That’s not fair to all of you for quite a few reasons, one of which is summed up in some faux-sage advice in the wrapper of a Dove chocolate I ate a few months ago:

At the time, I thought the answer was bacon. (I’m only half-joking.) But it’s not. It’s really not.

(That said, bacon’s still absolutely delicious.)

16 responses to “Life, or Why I’m Afraid Of It”

  1. Matthew '13 says:

    “Here’s the thing, though: I’m scared. I’m terrified that I’ll fail.”

    There’s always the chance that you’ll fail, but you cannot let that overcome your ambition. Remember what you told me when i was freaking out about 8.01? Just try your hardest, and remember, for every door that closes, 2 more open.

  2. kid says:

    “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

    can anyone guess who said that quote?

  3. Mneme says:

    Ah, the joys of senior year.
    I’m very tempted to reply that I will be ninja.

  4. aleriosg says:

    Coincidentally enough, the do-what-you-love topic has been circling around my head all day, since my teacher talked about it today at school. This post really made me reflect on the decisions I have made lately about my career, and I think they really do reflect (sorry, I couldn’t help it raspberry ) what I am passionate about.
    I wish you the best of luck as a teacher, Keri, and I would be glad to be your student.

  5. Grant says:

    You are doing reaaaaally great, Keri and there’s never been another blogger as creative nor as adventurous and receptive (open-minded) as you are, and I, for one, am really gonna miss you from these blogs when you graduate MIT.. Like Real bad…..(sobs)….

    *Btw You are going to be accepted to Teach for AMERICA anyway…

  6. Nina says:

    “Gorgeous” is not a stretch! And I am rooting for you!

    I have no Dumbledore quotes to offer wink but as I’ve said before, I believe in you. I think this is something every teacher has to face, and maybe the hardest thing to accept is that you might make mistakes because you’ll be learning too, and that’s a lifelong process. And also you can’t fix everything. BUT I think what you should focus on is your NET contribution, and you’ll definitely be doing more good than harm. You are just trying to help push the scales in the right direction (or whatever? THAT metaphor needs work), and I think that you will make quite a great difference indeed, especially if you trust in your own ability and the fact that you know what you’re doing. Maybe you don’t feel like you know what you’re doing, but you do — enough to get it done, anyway, which is all anybody needs. wink

  7. @kid and Nina: Is it a Dumbledore quote or a Gandalf quote? (I read way too much scifi/fantasy…raspberry)

    Incidentally, reCaptcha: “stewardship games” Isn’t that what happened in Lord of the Rings, Return of the King? Lol, funny coincidence.

  8. genius ('18) says:

    (That said, bacon’s still absolutely delicious.)
    LOL!!! That was like the most entertaining thing Iv’e seen. Now only If that advice was edible! Alas I digress… I think the answer to that question would be dove chocolate!

  9. Reena '13 says:

    That’s so true, you have such a beautiful goal, and I hope you make it. Have you ever taught for ESP? If so you should, it’s good practice!

  10. NathanArce says:

    1) No, I don’t find life scary, at least. But I’m weird, so it’s okay.

  11. anon says:

    yea, I want to teach too and I’m afraid of having to be responsible for other people tooo….
    as well as having kids O_O

  12. D says:

    Hey Keri. 18.02 is pretty intense, isn’t it? Anyway, I love this blog. Responsibility can be scary sometimes but you have to remember that you cannot be solely responsible for another person’s future. Everyone is responsible for their own. I say you should go for it with all your heart, which by the way is a very big one.

  13. tree says:

    “If you don’t try, you already had failed.”
    And “Tension is a good piece of chocolate yet to be discovered by the sweet-teeth of the world.”

  14. Anonymous says:

    we miss you keri we miss you keri <3