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A head-and-shoulders illustrated portrait of Ceri Riley. She is smiling with her mouth closed, has light skin, and long light pink hair.

New Year’s Resolution by Ceri R. '16

…of sorts. Since New School Year’s Resolution doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

Thanks to the agrarian principles our society was founded upon, a new year within a year is beginning. The school year, to be precise. Crops have been harvested, children are no longer needed as farmhands, and UROPs/internships have finished, so why not go and learn a thing or two?

Every new year, Neil Gaiman writes a lovely little blog post with a wish (here are a couple). And every new year, I find his musings to be just as inspirational as the last.

This year, he wrote:

huzzah for scrollover text              

(words by Neil Gaiman, typography-ish revamp by me)

As I enter my sophomore year, remembering that I (and that we all) have the capacity for both bravery and joy will unmistably help in my attempts to tame the beast that is MIT.

I mean, I didn’t even think I was going to come here in the first place. Unlike the majority of admitted students enthusiastically celebrating à la:

(referring to the tube MIT sends out around decision time)

My reaction was more along the lines of “okay, cool?”

And boy did I feel guilty about it. Here I was, admitted to a fantastic school, the news of which had travelled around to extended family and my entire high school (it was a very small school) within 16 hours, and I wasn’t even sure if I was going to comMIT (as they say).

After that day, so many conversations began with “Congrats, Ceri! So you’re going to MIT?” to which I could only respond with “Uhhh.. maybe? But I’m probably gonna wait until I get the rest of my decisions back…”

Cue mildly awkward look and maybe a halfharted, “Oh, that’s probably smart.”

Because when you get into a capital-g Great school, you’re supposed to be ecstatic. You’re supposed to be proud of yourself and your accomplishments and maybe even earn some bragging rights…


But I wasn’t any of those things. I was shocked (and still am, after a year of being here) that I, the derpy high schooler with decent grades and a low math SAT score who lurked backstage as a theater techie and ran around as a volunteer summer camp counselor at a science museum, somehow impressed a council of strangers. And now I’m climbing a mountain (as the metaphor goes) with kids who were featured in “The Most Impressive Kids Graduating from High School.”

Now I’m starting to realize (and, more importantly, accept) the fact that I was admitted for who I am. Plus a whole lot of luck.

I didn’t refine my short answers for hours or give them to a second party to edit, nor did I try and portray myself as anything that I’m not. I wrote about the joy of snuggling up with peppermint hot chocolate and reading a comic book, the video games and tomboyishness that shaped my childhood, and how a documentary I worked on for weeks was a total failure when it came to competition so I cried over frozen yogurt.

And somehow, in all that rambling, someone saw potential.

Maybe MIT wasn’t my lifelong dream, maybe other students who studied harder or came from more difficult backgrounds or are more creative could’ve added something different to the Class of 2016, and maybe I still haven’t overcome the impostor syndrome (though nobody really does).

But one thing is for certain: I’m incredibly, immeasurably grateful that I took the plunge; that I uprooted myself from the Pacific Northwest and will hopefully realize the potential that this school saw in me. Even moreso to be able to share my adventures with the blogosphere/interwebz/etc. to entertain, to muse philosophically, to fangirl, and maybe to show how MIT can become a home for fellow I-don’t-know-if-I-can-science-but-my-gosh-I’m-gonna-try creative types.

So, hello. It’s ever so nice to meet you.