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2019 Q2 Review: Working on it

8 min read, July ‘19

Wow, it’s July! And wow, I overestimated how much I could do this summer!

In the same style as my 2019 Q1 Review, I’ll review how my life went from April through June, guided by a list of dated milestones. In this review, I decided to focus on the highlights, which means I’ve removed some events that would’ve made it onto a more comprehensive review.

I’m aware that calling this a “Q2” review makes it sound like some fiscal report, but I don’t know how else to refer to the second quarter of the year. 🤷🏻‍

April 2: Attended the Analog Devices General Technical Conference

I went as the only student representative of my robotics team, and it was cool to see the diversity of the engineering projects ADI is working on, including autonomous vehicles and IoT. Previously I thought that ADI only did semiconductors or something. Also some high-up people told me that I really should go to graduate school and do SuperUROP at MIT, but I’m pretty sure they were assuming that I’ll go into engineering. LOL. (As a side note, I am considering grad school, but not for engineering.)

{% include image.html src="../assets/2019-q2-adi.jpeg" alt="Students from ADI-sponsored FRC teams at the ADI GTC" caption="Students from ADI-sponsored FRC teams at the ADI GTC" %}

April 3–6: Presented at Science Talk in Portland, OR

I can’t say the process of submitting a presentation proposal and preparing the presentation was great, but because the science communication world is so (relatively) small, I decided to make the most out of this opportunity.

One workshop that stood out was based on research by the FrameWorks Institute on communicating about climate change. It was uplifting to see truly effective (i.e. accessible, not confusing), tested methods for talking about things like carbon dioxide (“regular vs. rampant”) and interesting to learn about how the organization did their research.

I got to meet Dianna Cowern (Physics Girl), Susanna Harris (of PhDepression), Maryam Zaringhalam, and many others! Special thank you to Zach Latta and Nathan Sanders for incredibly valuable last-minute feedback on the presentation, and Parin Shaik for being an awesome co-presenter! I also truly appreciate everyone who let us know what they thought of our presentation. Downtown Portland was pretty cool (but expensive) to explore, and Washington Park, with gorgeous views and nature, was just minutes away by train!

April 11–14: MIT Campus Preview Weekend and FIRST Robotics Competition New England District Championship

CPW is MIT’s jam-packed, kinda quirky admitted students’ event! Unfortunately, I spent the first 16 hours of CPW highkey struggling to make a video for my robotics team’s Chairman’s Award presentation, and the next 10 at the championship in Worcester, MA.

I ended up spending most of CPW exploring dorms with one group of people. I stayed up till 3am every night, went Hacking™, swing danced (but missed the pole dancing events unfortunately), and had fun overall but hopefully will have more fun this fall!

"Some friends and I at CPW"

April 30: We Are America reception at Harvard Graduate School of Education

My classmates and I explored the Harvard Museum of Natural History and ate at an old pizza restaurant before hosting a panel about our book, We Are America.

I spent most of the time at the museum chatting with a volunteer in the Earth & Planetary Sciences exhibit about everything from the chemistry of minerals to his homeland of Kolkata. I feel like this experience was more valuable and educational than merely reading descriptions and trying to absorb everything.

"Me outside the We Are America reception holding a poster of me"

May 2: We Are America reception at UMass Lowell

"We Are America panel at UMass Lowell"

We had another panel and reception, and this time I was a panelist. I enjoyed the opportunity to share my opinions and experiences about the class, book, and what it means to be American. One of the questions I remember was related to what we all wanted to do in the future, since we all expressed criticisms about the education system. To the dismay of some audience members, no one wanted to be a teacher. I was the only one who harbored any interest in working in education (I’m thinking about edtech), but unfortunately the panel discussion finished right before the mic would’ve gotten to me for that question.

May 4: FIRST LEGO League Jr Expo

Ever since I joined my robotics team (halfway through build season during junior year), I’ve focused on our outreach. Starting and supporting teams for younger students is a big part of that, but I only presented about our FLL Jr (grades K-4) teams and didn’t directly interact with them for a while. Running this expo was the first time I actually did so, and it was pretty fun

May 8–17: Took my last AP exams

This was the first and only year I got all 5s! I took English Literature & Composition, US History, Latin, and Psychology. This especially means a lot to me because when I was a freshman, I had no clue what literary analysis was (in middle school, we only summarized, never analyzed) and thought I didn’t belong in high honors English. Similarly, I was required to take AP European History as a sophomore, but never learned how to properly write about history. As for Latin, I had a yearlong gap between Latin 3 and Latin 4, and I only took half of the AP Psychology course 🙃

May 11: Saw Detective Pikachu

I rarely watch movies (not at all against it though!), so this deserves a heading

May 18: NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing — MA Affiliate Ceremony

I already got my trophy at the national award ceremony two months prior to this, so I had one job — to stand up when they called my name. And then I was in the bathroom when that happened. Nice.

May 24–27: Visited Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia

This was a generous gift from my half brother and his wife for getting into MIT! I visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum, a bunch of Asian restaurants, and Old Town R̶o̶a̶d̶ Alexandria, which I especially loved!

May 28: Prom

Bad DJ, okay time ¯_(ツ)_/¯

June 3: Attended an Edward Tufte course

This was a performance. There was a lot of information, all of which I’ve yet to process lol.

June 5: Graduation

I was having an emotional breakdown (not because I was going to miss high school) and then saw a school administrator who triggers me, turning my breakdown into a severe panic attack! Woo! Anyway, I graduated ranked 3rd in my class (after reaping all the benefits of being ranked 2nd for most of high school hehe).

"Me shaking my principal's hand on stage at graduation"

June 10: Visited the MIT Media Lab and did bhangra dancing for the first time!

So much fun — catch me UROPing at the Media Lab and in MIT Bhangra this upcoming school year 🤧

June 14: Nyoomed to San Francisco

I’m a Community Intern at Repl.it this summer!

June 15: Went to Corgi Con!

Saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time!

June 17: Intern at a Y Combinator Company dinner

~content is off the record~

June 21: Worked out at a VR gym

Only in San Francisco

June 23: Had 🍷 for the first time

June 27: Went axe throwing with the Repl.it team

June 29: Volunteered at Y Combinator Work at a Startup Expo


Having a lot of distance from my high school — not just geographically, but also from the people, drama, and activities — has been good for my emotional and mental health. I’ve also been attending lots of smaller intern events and other events in the area this summer, and I’m planning a separate post for those!

This post got very lazy towards the end oops

Vague Goals™ for Q3

Set more realistic standards for myself

For the first two weeks of my internship especially, I would come home and be too tired to work on other things, like Science and Us, Violet Hacks, and side projects. I was really unhappy with this, but at the same time, being tired at the end of the day (theoretically) means that I had worked my hardest. That should be enough, but in my mind, it wasn’t.

Be more emotionally independent

Insecurity and emotional dependence cause pretty much all of my Relationship Problems™ so I’m actively working on improving here.

Have more empathy and less judgement

This especially applies in two areas: meeting new people, and responding to peers and younger students who reach out to me.

Particularly in San Francisco, where a disproportionate number of people call themselves founders (including me), I tend to be skeptical about people and their work. I often expect pseudo-intellectualism, homogenous thinking, and arrogance. However, most of the people I’ve met are, at worst, tolerable and, at best, wonderful, so I’m trying to lessen unfounded negative assumptions.

Secondly, quite a few high schoolers email me looking for advice on starting a nonprofit, doing science research, getting into college, etc. Much of the time, I have issues with the way they approach things, but it’s usually not their fault.

For example, I don’t think high school sophomores should be thinking about college, but it’s not their fault that an obsessive college prep culture is extremely pervasive these days. Instead of criticizing them for something I can’t blame them for, I’d like to offer advice that would be helpful if I were in their situation.

In addition to those two areas, I think I should have more empathy in friendships.

Actively learn more often

I feel like I’ve mostly been doing things I already know how to do, just in different contexts or at different scales. I’d like to actually venture into new areas and learn them well, ideally by making projects and sharing them.

Write more

~Ironically~ I don’t think I need to write more to explain this one.

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