By Mackenzie H.
Well, SSP is over now. It feels so odd to say that; it seems like just a few weeks ago I received the “Dear Mackenzie, Congratulations! The SSP Admissions Committee has accepted your application to the 2021 Summer Science Program in Biochemistry.” email and sat in utter disbelief in my car. It would be impossible to summarize my experience at SSP well enough to do it justice, but I’ll try.
During my first few weeks at SSP, I felt completely out of my element. I was surrounded by people who knew significantly more than me about the topics we covered and I didn’t feel cut out to be in a community of such incredible people. That feeling isn’t completely gone, but during my time at SSP I’ve realized that no one knows everything and to find comfort in not knowing. If you don’t know, at SSP you’ll have the perfect opportunity to learn; that’s the beauty of being here.
I’ve learned a lot from my experiences at SSP. Firstly, I need a new desk chair because this one is awful, the group tab function on Chrome will change your life, and poutine is in fact not a soup as I had previously assumed (thanks William and sorry Canadians). Jokes aside, SSP has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences I’ve had thus far. I’ve learned about bioinformatics (my personal favorite week), how to use MOE (we love you @thechemicalcomputinggroup), and to relish in being unsure and to use it as fuel to learn and grow with every mistake and bit of unsureness.
From Kevin’s lecture covering doorknob engineering and fonts, to Helen’s love of lofi beats, the SSP community is distinctive, diverse, and dynamic (and maybe a little bit dysfunctional at times). If I could give prospective SSP applicants any piece of advice, I would say, get comfortable being uncomfortable. You will learn so much, but in order to do so, you have to ask questions and learn to be wrong sometimes. Having those uncomfortable moments is growth. I did, and it led me to have my best summer yet with the most amazing and unforgettable people anyone could ask for.
Although my experience at SSP is concluded by the publication of our research, it’s the small, mundane moments that brought me to this point. From talking with Steven and Izzy for three hours about everything from our irrational fear of birds to Glossier, and private messaging Coco on Zoom about how cool Dr. Jill is, to laughing at Alex’s excessive use of the word “anyhow” with Claire and Charis in TA block (although I’ve definitely one-upped him with my use of “any whomst”), SSP has been comprised of many little moments that have led me to some of the best and brightest moments I’ve experienced in a long time. I couldn’t be more grateful to have had this experience, and I hope you all get the same opportunity one day.