Accepting the beginning of an end

By: McKenna M

        It’s Sunday July 18, 2021. It’s the first day of the last week of SSP. I just woke up from my 23 minute nap, and I have come to a realization that most of the major events in my life have occurred after I take naps. This realization has led me to recall the day that I was accepted into SSP.

        I had spent the day hanging out with my friends, and when I got home I decided that I would take a nap. I thought that if I took a nap I would be refreshed when writing my short response answers. However, like most of my naps, I ended up sleeping for five hours and woke up an hour before the application deadline. I jolted out of my bed, and I started typing away. I rambled and rambled(sort of what I am doing now). I rambled my heart out. I did a quick grammar check, and submitted everything fifteen minutes prior to the deadline. After I submitted the application I never thought about SSP again and somewhat forgot about it until I woke up from another nap about a month later. I had fallen asleep while watching Erased, and in my sleep I must have accidentally pressed the volume button because I was awoken by the ending song. I awoke groggily and exited out of the netflix tab. I accidentally clicked on my Gmail bookmark, and saw that I had 15 updates. Fun fact, I rarely check my email. My first instinct was to click out of my gmail tab, but the yellow unread updates were annoying me, so I decided to click on it. I saw “Congratulations”, however, I thought it was just spam.Then I remembered that I thought the Congratulations I received from the Naval Academy just a few days before was spam as well, but  I was actually accepted. So  I clicked on the Congratulations that was sent to me two days prior, and I realized I was accepted into SSP. For a second I couldn’t believe(sometimes I still can’t), but I ran downstairs and shouted to my father that I had been accepted. He paused WandaVision and started smiling as I dropped down to the floor with a huge grin on my face. 

        I remember the first week vividly. I remember meeting my observing collective, which was once dubbed Primordial Soup but because we were not fast enough to submit our file, another group who had the same clever idea submitted the file first and received the name. We then became the Souper Star Cluster. I was extremely nervous starting out. I remember the first pset and wondering if I would ever comprehend any future ones. My anxiousness didn’t end there. Dr. H’s Calculus lecture stressed me out, considering I haven’t taken Calculus yet. For a short period, I doubted my mathematical capabilities. My doubts soon seeped into social life and activities. In the beginning, I thought that getting to know people and finding people to relate to would be challenging. I thought the online setting would impede on my capabilities to talk to others and find similarities outside of the social and learning blocks. I was wrong about all of this though!

Here are some things that I would tell about the beginning of SSP McKenna.

  1. Academically: Sure you have not taken Calculus but that does not mean that you are in some way unable to complete the work. You have a whole group of people surrounding you,  including participants and staff that you can reach out to for help. P.S. Although your observing group has shrunken by one person that will not negatively affect your observing group dynamic. Hayagreev and you will be there to support each other socially and academically :))
  2. Socially: During work play blocks you will get to know the other participants so much better while doing psets. The amount of people that I have met while working on broken code, or zooming after WP to finish off assignments is a lot! Try to join vc if you can because you’ll make great memories, especially if there is karaoke.

Now that I am finished with the sappy stuff, and I only have 22 more minutes to complete this I am going to just list off some of my happiest moments

  • Finding my asteroid for the first time and having a stupidly huge grin on my face 
  • The first time I completed a pset before the end of work play, and I was able to go to bed early
  • Listening to Blaise Aguera y Arcas’s lecture about Neuroscience & AI
  • Sining minecraft parody songs in vc at 3 am and also having a dance party to Demi Levator and Taylor Swift
  • Practicing for the talent show with the ‘Champs’ squad
  • Watching the talent show and just seeing how amazingly talented and supportive everyone is. Also shoutout to Joey, whose video made me extremely teary!!
  • Seeing Sarah’s apparel design for the first time and trying to figure out who was who of the 34 people
  • Using the telescope for the first on the night of our observations and seeing my asteroid!!

Finally an update on my day

  • Personal: Last night I watched a really trippy and good anime that  Zp streamed. I forget the name but it was by Madhouse Studios, which also produced Perfect Blue, a movie I thoroughly enjoyed.
  • Today I took the ACT. Afterwards I met up with my friend to get sushi burritos and boba. We then went to a weird smelling bookstore and walked to the beach. I also watched Star Trek(2009) for the 13th time
  • SSP: My observing collective received our fourth and last batch of images, however there are no flat,bias, or dark files so we are a bit confused on how to create them. Also Hayag ran our SwRI script(my computer is outdated and won’t download Text Code for some reason), and we found out that our asteroid will most likely not stay in our solar system for very long. Hayagreev and I plan on meeting after I finish this post to analyze everything and work on our OD report! 


        Today is Sunday July 18, 2021. It is the first day of the last week at SSP. The kind of work that has been done and that is still being done is amazing. It’s been amazing to learn so much from such incredible professors, TAs, and participants. SSP will forever be a part of my life and some of my more notable memories! I know we still have a full week left, but I will miss everyone! 

                                                                                                                    – Finished five minutes before the deadline :)))

About Me

        Hi! I am McKenna, and I am a rising senior from the heart of Chicago. I enjoy physics, programming, debate, watching movies, playing video games, and road trips with my friends.  Something that I also love is sleep, however, once I started SSP; sleep isn’t something that I have gotten much of. My favorite movies are Forrest Gump, The Matrix, Juno, and Se7en. My favorite shows are Attack on Titan, American Horror Story, and I am getting into Ozark. Some strong beliefs that I hold are Star Trek > Star Wars, Apple Juice > Orange Juice, Cupcakes > Cake, Dogs ≳ Cats, Minecraft < Terraria, Sakura ≠ Trash, and this last one isn’t an opinion but just facts -> Sailor Moon bodies Goku. Needless to say I very much dislike unnecessary hate towards female characters.