Freshman year. I remember stumbling up to the podium for the School’s annual speech competition, hands shaking. My note cards were a mess; put frankly, I was a red-faced, mumbling disaster. I think my teacher took pity on me when he promoted me to the next round, and I’m sad to report my second performance was as horrific as the first. Needless to say, I did not move to the next level.
Fast forward to the summer before senior year and I stand in front of NASA officials presenting a plan for a picosatellite that will host earth observing technology the size of soda cans. I feel confident and excited to share my research. My section of the project is delivered without the uhs and ums that used to plague my speech and exhilaration runs through my bones. It’s funny how sometimes I feel most like a Lawrentian when I’m not on campus. As I turn to present my slides, memories of speech competitions and class presentations and leading club meetings stand firmly behind me, allowing me to enjoy such an incredible opportunity.
As a senior, I’m often left wondering what the long term effects of Lawrenceville will be on me as a person. I know that the school provides terrific opportunities and an excellent education, but how will it ultimately change me? I started to receive an answer during my two week internship at the NASA SEES program hosted at the University of Texas-Austin. From the moment I walked into my group’s room to start designing a project, I saw a familiar sight: teenagers sitting around a table and a mentor invested in my growth. I didn’t feel intimidated. I didn’t feel anxious. Excitement rushed through me as I presented my ideas and encouraged other members to speak up as well. I realized that Lawrenceville had left a legacy inside of me: the tools to explore my intellectual curiosity to the highest degree and to benefit completely from my peers. I felt ready to listen, ready to learn, and ready to create.
In addition, I got to instill my favorite aspects of Lawrenceville into my time at NASA. Personally, I have always valued the friendships at this school more than anything. I appreciate learning with my friends in clubs outside of the classroom and making connections that can lead to long-lasting support. I believe my NASA internship was so enjoyable because I was able to connect with the people I worked with and appreciate them not just as colleagues but as people. Lawrenceville gave me this gift: the ability to let my guard down, to work hard but also play hard too. I am forever grateful for this ability and cherish all the times I spent aqua jogging and walking downtown and sharing stories with a wonderful group of human beings.
Wherever life takes me, Lawrenceville will always be a part of me. I value the time I got to live fully at NASA and look forward to the next journey.