So it’s hard to imagine I just participated in my FIFTH CPW but yea, I’m getting a little old, but it’s cool. It’s really crazy awesome to meet everyone who got in and hear about their stories about how they saved kids from burning buildings when they were 6 years old, etc. You guys all rock in one way or another.
Sorry to those of you who couldn’t make it, but I’m sure with all the pictures everyone took that there will be mad blog coverage of CPW over the next few days, so fear not.
And finally, a sorry to those of you who thought I would be taller or more buff. My genes didn’t really favor that department. *Gulps protein shake*
So I thought it would be appropriate to talk about why it was I chose MIT…twice. Yes, folks, I’m making it public. I decided that I love MIT so much that I want 5 MORE YEARS. By the time I graduate, I will have spent a third of my life at this place. I LOVE IT.
So why would anyone want to come to MIT?
I think the way that I see it is if you’ve ever read one of those choose your own adventure books and loved it, that would be a great reason to say so. If I think about my daily set of activities at MIT, I’m really choosing from this very long catalog of options of what I want to see, learn, do, taste. Essentially, it’s sensory overload of the amazing kind.
If you believe that the only education you will receive at MIT is in the classroom, that’s not true. I think probably one of the biggest assets MIT has is the people. Coming to MIT I was a pretty shy and reticent guy, but I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned while here is that it is both fun and worthwhile to get to know the people that you share this community with. Apart from the fact that working with others makes the work get done faster and in a more fun environment, the people here come from all different walks of life, and it’s really great to be in a place where to a degree the world comes to you and you can meet a group of people from all over the country and globe. Now that’s a cool feeling.
So is all this “you can change the world” message just lip service or can you actually do it here at 18 years of age? I return to a personal anecdote. When I came to MIT, I wanted to do one thing, I wanted to get my degree and get out. I also wanted to learn how to make cool prosthetic devices. Have I done (or will I do) either of those two things by June 8? Probably not. Am I upset about it? Not at all. One thing that I acknowledge is that when I came to MIT, my exposure to the world of science and engineering was limited. I’d done some fun GFP experiments in high school biology but I didn’t solve protein structures or anything like that. I never did any summer research before coming here either. So was MIT really going to fit with my personal background and experience? I guess it did. Having never touched a pipette, today I work in a lab where we’re trying to reduce the need for organ transplants by understanding the etiology of diseases. At the same time, we’re trying to expedite the drug development process. So is it lip service? Nope.
So why do I think someone should come to MIT?
If you really want to be able to consider your education an open-ended question where the question is “what’s next?” I think that this is the place for you. I think in some respects you have to be a car that drives itself insofar that you have to push yourself and take yourself to the next step, but at the same time, you have to know when it’s time to seek help and help others.
I used to think that everything in life was a linear sequence of events. Then I came to MIT. I realize now that life is a timeless twister that never stops.
The late professor Gian-Carlo Rota had ten maxims about learning of which I will close this entry with three:
1. You learn what you don’t know you are learning.
2. By and large, “knowing how” matters more than “knowing what.”
3. The world and your career are unpredictable, so you are better off learning subjects of permanent value.
Hopefully, I’ll see you all in the fall. Don’t forget about me when I’m a grad student. I might even be your TA. Ha!