It’s the Final Count-dough-n…

Author: Sophia W.

At first, I thought this blog post would take the form of a long, multi-faceted answer to the last QOD of SSP 2021 (courtesy of Michael W):

“Share your favorite SSP memory.”

However, it would be impossible for me to deem just one memory from SSP my favorite. Instead, I want to share the most memorable aspect of SSP: the depth, the endearing quirks, and the eccentricity (no, not as it relates to orbit determination), of every person.

In programs like these, we all share one common passion, which made it difficult to stand out; until the talent show, that is. Each student was given the opportunity to shine in a brilliantly unique way. Katrina’s banter was her typical brand of hilarious and, as usual, made me question if I even know the definition of humor. Lucy made my head spin as she quickly went from a whimsical MC performance to a hilarious accent act to a beautiful, moving rendition of On My Own from Les Miserables. Another favorite act of mine was Lizzie; she did a phenomenal job of representing us rock and roll fans within the STEM field through her radical performance of Muse’s “Hysteria.” Gerry came into his own as a comedian during his act; although it was hard to focus in the midst of his inhuman hand contortion.

Perhaps equally as memorable as the show were the hours leading up to it, where Bronwyn, Matt (Sleeping Beauty, as per the Plate Award), and Stephen stayed up all night to finish editing while I stayed for “moral support.” Their fervor and perfectionism perplexed me at times–but I honestly cannot think of a better way to have spent the night.

I should touch on a slightly more academic aspect of SSP (that is the whole point, after all). Aside from offering a learning experience previously beyond my imagination, the academic directors added an irreplaceable level of character to the program. Bauer’s Birds were always the highlight of my day; I initially expected him to tie the pictures into the lecture, but was pleasantly surprised to see he just genuinely wanted to share some birds with us. Then there’s
Dr. Anderson, who introduced himself through his borderline sociopathic childhood rather proudly and later went on to describe his unintentional run-in with public nudity.

Dr. Sverdrup’s Mad Science spectacle was also something to behold. There’s nothing quite like watching a man freeze and shatter a rubber glove using liquid nitrogen, create a fiery explosion using cloth and a deadly amount of volts, and employ a vortex gun all from his living room while remaining entirely unfazed. His nonchalant nature made the experience so much better. Unfortunately, we never did see the nitrogen-filled balloon pop; some say it’s still expanding to
this day.

Lastly, I’d like to point out one SSPeer whose kindness particularly stood out to me. Antara always exudes compassion and is supportive in the most sincere of ways, not to mention the fact that she was willing to read over this post and provide encouragement throughout the dead of the night. Thanks again Antara!

We all entered SSP expecting it to be the academic challenge of a lifetime, but I don’t think anyone could have anticipated meeting such a special group of people. I hope you all have come to appreciate these little aspects of each other the way I do.

This blog post is brought to you by Sophia W. (AKA Resident Goose, NMTs Village Idiot, Sophia the Soviet). I have spent my whole life in the sweltering state of Arizona. My passions outside of science and math include playing the violin, politics, rock and roll, and television. Thank you for reading!

Photograph of me rejoining the all-nighter Zoom after working on the blog post for 3 hours and desperately asking if anyone has a photo I can include