Kat Huang Memoji of me making a peace sign

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Summer 2019 Preview

5 min read, June ‘19

I really enjoyed publishing a quarterly review of milestones at the beginning of April and plan on writing another one for July 1, but in the middle of 2019’s second quarter is a major change in my life: graduating high school and living on my own for the first time! As a result, I’ve brainstormed and will share some goals, projects, and principles I have for this summer, since this time period doesn’t neatly fit into a single quarter.


My three overarching goals are to 1) prepare for college, 2) explore new areas by creating projects and meeting people, and 3) get healthier.

1. Prepare for college

A large part of this involves completing well-defined tasks required by MIT. Currently on my plate are the Freshman Essay Evaluation (FEE), advising application, Freshman Pre-Orientation Program (FPOP) application, and submitting an ID photo. Later, I need to complete several modules, send my AP scores, fill out some forms, and prepare for Orientation. 😬

Additionally, I plan to study for the Advanced Standing Exams to place out of 18.02 (Calculus 2, equivalent to Calculus 2 and 3 everywhere else) and 6.0001 (Introduction to Computer Science Programming in Python). I got a C+ when I took Multivariable Calculus online last fall, and I’ve never taken a formal CS class, so we’ll see how this goes. I definitely have my work cut out for me! ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I’m helping start MIT Vlogarithms, a community vlog channel showing glimpses into life at MIT and a bit on admissions, from various students’ perspectives. I plan to create videos about my experience applying, and probably help organize the structure of it all and with any marketing and web stuff that comes up.

Concrete tasks aside, I want to get my habits, routines, and mental/emotional state in a place that’ll enable me to thrive during college. I’ve already brainstormed a list of activities I’d like to try out at MIT. (Key words are “try out” because I have way too many to actually commit to all of them: multiple dance groups, acapella, martial arts, research, Greek life, a student magazine, entrepreneurship and tech clubs, applying for summer 2020 opportunities, etc.) The challenge will be developing the time management, prioritization, and stress management skills to do everything I want to do while still taking care of myself and, you know, doing school stuff.

2. Explore new areas by creating projects and meeting people

Currently I’m interested in exploring data journalism, reading and writing more, software development, dance, and singing. I think an incredibly effective and fun way to learn new things is to create and share projects using those skills, which often leads to forming strong relationships with supportive people who share similar interests.

At the moment I don’t have metrics for this goal, but I’ll probably define some once I figure out my daily routine in San Francisco. Already, though, I can think of ways I’m engaging with each of the areas I mentioned. Tomorrow I’m going to an Edward Tufte course on data visualization in Cambridge, which hopefully will transform my mere interest in data science into actual action.

I have a ton of books in my room and drafts here on Medium, waiting to be finished. I’m starting an internship at a tech startup in fewer than 2 weeks and have a backlog of side projects that’ll definitely broaden my coding knowledge, something which I’ve actually never actively pursued. Next week I’m bringing (read: dragging?) a friend to a bhangra workshop, and I might try making a song cover at some point.

3. Get healthier

I’m not going to write too much about this because I prefer to be more private about health-related goals. Essentially, however, I want to improve in both foundational and, uh, non-foundational(?) aspects, for lack of a better term. “Foundational” for me involves establishing habits to improve my posture and expand my breathing capacity (I blame my scoliosis lol). My non-foundational goals more closely resemble typical strength- and flexibility-related goals.


I’m viewing my activities this summer more as “projects” rather than “commitments”. Though I’ll obviously pursue them responsibly, especially when I’m part of a team, viewing these as experiments seems to be motivating. They’re avenues for me to deeply explore and enjoy something within a fixed timeframe (e.g. end of internship, a successful launch or event). Within those constraints I can be as creative and hard-working as I want, knowing that there’ll be an end, after which I can evaluate, reflect, and decide what I want to do next. (ok I’m writing this at 1am and I’m not entirely sure this paragraph makes sense)

Interning at Repl.it

I landed this internship through a cold email which, in its first draft, was pretty bad, but in its second iteration, was definitely my email-composing PEAK: https://twitter.com/amasad/status/1092241964194582530

Like, I don’t know if I’ll ever write another email that moves a CEO to CC Paul Graham on Twitter. But I digress.

I’ll be working on both engineering and community development with a team of awesome people, and I’m trying to let my excitement overshadow my lack of skills!

Writing Stories of Science and Us

A big reason why I started Science and Us was because I wanted to explore careers like science writing — meet people with those jobs, learn how they got there, and take my own steps on those paths. These careers (science policy, outreach, media, etc.) bridge STEM and the public, and allow people to combine diverse interests professionally, but they’re rarely mentioned in school. Stories of Science and Us is changing that. We’re compiling journeys and advice from dozens of STEM communicators into a book, and sharing it with classrooms across the country.

You can pre-order a digital + physical copy (a real book, on paper and stuff!) of Stories of Science and Us for just $10 at igg.me/at/scienceandus!

Organizing Violet Hacks

I applied to help organize Violet Hacks, the Violet Society’s second annual hackathon, being held at Github HQ on August 10–11 and was selected as the lead for Guest Outreach. I’ve been seeing the Violet Society on my Facebook feed for a while and although I can’t pursue their fellowships because I’m not usually based in the Bay, I’m grateful to have this opportunity! I’m excited to meet and work with other motivated, authentic women and bring in amazing guests for the event, as well as help with sponsorship (to the best of my ability lol).


I’ve recently come across or realized a few ideas I want to keep in mind these next few months, and they are:

  • People > Activity: I believe that it’s more important to work with the right people — people you respect, who are honest with themselves and others, and who are open-minded — than to choose the “right” activity. This is especially evident as I’ve experienced noble ideas and projects ruined by toxic working environments. It also fits with my belief that values, not interests (which change often), connect people and provide meaning — more on that in another article later.
  • Less is More: This is simple math in that the more commitments I have, the more fractions my time, energy, and attention are divided into. However, as a high school student, it has been difficult to pull out of commitments that I probably shouldn’t have made or which no longer add value to my life. Being a person who errs on the side of saying “yes” to shiny new opportunities doesn’t help either. With a (somewhat) clean slate now, I’m aiming to do fewer things, better.

Put together, these ideas mean that I’ll hopefully be more selective in the opportunities I pursue in the future. Already, the people and activities I’m intentionally welcoming into my life are making it a pretty great one. :)

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