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MIT student blogger Rachel D. '16

You Got The Gig by Rachel D. '16

So excited about ALL the Things!



When I got that message from the infamous King of the Internet, Chris Peterson, that said “YOU GOT THE GIG!” I simply did not believe it.  I was sitting in a lab at Stony Brook University back in New York, supervising my nine high school students with their materials science research projects.  I looked at my computer and I saw the e-mail, and it was just necessary to post the cute caterpillar in order to perfectly emulate my reaction on that day.

Now, how about a proper introduction?  My name is Rachel, and I love course 3 (materials science).  I love looking at how materials are made and how they work and I love blending plastics for hours and hours.  I’ve mostly focused my research in the past on biodegradable flame retardant plastics, and I was actually chosen as a finalist in a pretty well known science competition, the Intel Science Talent Search!  I got to go to Washington D.C. for a week and I met the most intelligent and wonderful people in the world, some of which are also going to MIT!

Actually, the day I came back from the Intel Science Talent Institute (the Washington D.C. trip) was pi day, March 14th, 2012.  I remember this not only because it was the day of pi, but also because it was the day when regular decision admissions results came out for MIT!! I was deferred back in December and had low expectations, but I hoped that my new jobs and science success after my deferral would help with getting into my dream school.

I remember being exhausted on that pi day, because the day before I met the president of the United States of America.  His name was Mr. President and we had to call him that (we practiced saying it multiple times before he came into the room) and he was very tall and he had soft hands and all forty of us finalists took a group picture with him in a room in the White House and he was happy and we were happy and it was quite incredible.

After we chilled with the President and met a bunch of Senators, we all dressed up super pretty for the final awards ceremony!  It was so much fun and everyone looked so wonderful! Afterwards, we had a dance event and all danced like crazy people, and then we hung out for the remainder of the night/morning.

Therefore, I was rather tired the next day when I had a very long train ride home with the other New Yorkers.  When I got home, I sat in front of the computer for a good fifteen minutes refreshing my browser, practically falling asleep at the keyboard.  The result finally showed up, and I actually got admitted to my dream school!!  I WAS SO HAPPY, but there wasn’t much energy in me to get overly happy as usual.  I updated all my social networks (being the social media freak that I am), dragged my feet downstairs, and told my mom that I was going to MIT.  She said okay, and then I crawled up the stairs and passed out on my bed.

One hour later, I heard the beeper go off on my dresser.  Did I mention that I’m a volunteer firefighter?

So whenever I am home, I go on calls on a quest to save the world.  I’m technically only in the fire company, but since it’s such a small department I go on ambulance calls a lot to help carry things and take down information onto forms and stuff.  The night I got back from Intel and found out about MIT, I got an ambulance call.  I went on the call, and there was a lady at a house and she was sick.  She was an AP Calculus teacher, so I told her about my research.  And MIT.  And Obama.

And she was okay.  She was in a lot of pain, but she liked talking to me and I liked talking to her, and she was calm when we brought her in on a stretcher to the hospital.  I hope she’s still okay.

After I got back from the ambulance call, I went straight to bed and slept for a little bit and then I went to school.  All day people were congratulating me, and I thought it was about the weekend.  I think it was about the weekend.  But then someone said congrats on MIT, and I thought, what?

Turns out I did actually get into my dream school.  What??

It didn’t make sense.  I remember feeling the tears again as I thought back to the day I got the call from Society for Science & the Public.  A lady was on the phone and she said “you’re a finalist for the Intel Science Talent Search.” And I asked her if she was being serious and then I just sat down in the hallways at school and cried from excitement and disbelief that I could actually accomplish something like that.

The coolest thing is that everyone else here at MIT feels the same. Us froshies are all so confused on how or why we got admitted to this incredible university – the sickest place in the world. I was so scared at first that I wouldn’t fit in – that I’m just not smart enough, even if I did get the gig. But all of these people are just like me – they love to build, explore, cause chaos, break rules, play with polymers (okay maybe that’s just me…), and be super quirky. As I get to know them, I’m starting to realize that I don’t need to get perfect grades or do everything – I can succeed just as much as anyone else through doing really awesome UROPs and internships and fighting fires and playing with polymers.  You don’t have to cure cancer or meet the president or take over the world to get into MIT; you need to have the passion to save the world one day at a time through doing things that you love to do.

I like MIT.  I can’t wait to share my adventures and stories with you all, and I hope that you enjoy reading about them in the future :) It’s nice to meet you!