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MIT student blogger Bryan O. '07

Whoa…You’re Old by Bryan

Bryan returns from the crypt of grad school

So I realized that despite not having left MIT, I haven’t written on this thing in a really long time. Part of it came from my own thinking that the life of a graduate student is not as exciting as an undergraduate, and the other part came from me forgetting my password, but fortunately, I remembered my password today and given the start of a new school year, I decided I’d stream some consciousness.

First off, an update on my life: I am now a tenured graduate student (passed both halves of my qualifying exams), became a vegetarian, and started training for triathlons. Aside from that, I still live at ZBT as the resident advisor (GRT in disguise…kind of) and still have managed not to pull an all-nighter (for academic reasons). The past two years have been full of excitement from studying, switching from mechanical engineering to a completely different discipline, biking around Boston, traveling, and research.

About an hour ago, I registered for my last class at MIT. Actually, I registered for two classes because I couldn’t decide from the syllabi which class I wanted to take, so I signed up for both of them. I registered for my first set of classes in 2003 (3.091, 21A.109, 18.01A, 8.01 and a seminar). I don’t know how many total classes I’ve taken since then, but I came close to taking a class in every department so that’s kind of cool.

When I first started MIT, I never once expected to stay here for this long (partly because I didn’t think my mom would support an undergraduate education that took that long nor did I ever expect to go to graduate school). When I came to MIT, my plan was to study EECS, start a video game company, and go make millions. Today, I work in a mass spectrometry lab studying insulin resistance and couldn’t be happier. What I realized that MIT taught me more than anything was to take risks. It was definitely a risk to switch disciplines for my PhD. It’s definitely a risk for me to study anything related to biochemistry given how poorly I did in 7.05, but this I realize is what makes MIT the place it is. It’s safe to take risks; it’s safe to say you don’t know. It’s safe to do something you know absolutely nothing about. That’s what education is about.

So to all the new students starting off their MIT experience: be free, take chances, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

8 responses to “Whoa…You’re Old”

  1. MIT Student says:

    Well said! Thanks for that!

  2. Thank you for your insight and honesty, Bryan. You have been such a help to fellow students over the years. This is another generous offering.

  3. SJL says:

    OMG!!! Are You actually training for triathlons?!?! Seriously, man I have not followed up on your posts. That’s pretty amazing. I’m going to do triathlons if you are seriously considering it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the brilliant advice,Bryan.By just reading your post,I’ve boosted my confidence.You should post more often.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “…but this I realize is what makes MIT the place it is. It’s safe to take risks; it’s safe to say you don’t know. It’s safe to do something you know absolutely nothing about. That’s what education is about.”
    I feel though that the nuturance of risk-taking is not something that’s necesssarily unique to MIT nor is it something that’s necessarily imparted by MIT.

    You could have developed the courage to try out new things or chart unexplored routes from various other institutions too. This courage may not even have to be bestowed upon you by the college. It may have been coming from inside you all along. After all, it is up to the individual how he wants to shape his education, seek out opportunities and make the best out of the resources before him.

    In short, what I want to say is, while MIT is a great place, it is not the only place you have to go to. (Then again, the lack of bureacracy to fight against and inflexible administrators certainly helps.)

  6. Age can be relative. The older you get the older old gets. So in you 20’s 35 is old. At 35 45 is old, etc. Eventhough you are highly educated you are not old yet.

  7. Wang Wei Ko says:

    Wow you made some otherwise crazy actions actually sound fun!
    Thanks for bolstering my confidence in risk-taking!

    Impossible is nothing, isn’t it?