By Micah G.
SSP was the only online program I have ever participated in that has felt meaningful.
Often it is difficult to stay engaged on long Zoom calls. This was never the case during SSP. Whether we were designing plasmids, learning enzyme mechanics, or building models on MOE, I was always fascinated by the material, my peers, and most of all by the instructors. I vividly remember the day we learned about the FDA process for approving new drugs and vaccines. Although this was not directly related to the fungal inhibitor project I learned more about the vaccine development and approval process from Dr. Jill than I had in 14 months of reading about the topic in the newspaper. I was also amazed by how much I was able to learn about biochemical research and writing research papers from Dr. Martha. The helpful, if harsh, feedback provided by the professors made me a better writer and a better researcher. In addition, each step of the research project (yes, including writing the final report) felt meaningful, satisfying, and fun.
Usually it is difficult to socialize on Zoom. This was not the case during SSP. Our TA’s worked hard from the first day to break any ice between participants through fun games and challenges. By the end of the first week, our campus already had its share of inside jokes and by the end of our second week, we were planning IRL meetups. As a side note, I will always be indebted to Matthew “Bungus Man” K. for bringing me a phone charger and finding me when I got lost during our meetup in Irvine. The friends I made through SSP are some of the nicest, most interesting individuals I have ever encountered.
This weekend I drove about 400 miles from SoCal to NorCal just to meet a few more in person. I can’t wait to see a few more at the alumni dinner this fall.
Lastly, SSP was challenging, physically and mentally. There was a lot of material that I was completely unfamiliar with at the beginning of the program, but thanks to the professors, the TA’s and my fellow participants I felt as though I had a solid grasp of everything at the end. I spent the three hour break each day engrossed in a much needed nap; I’ve never slept deeper than I did after I had finally finished Dr. One’s labyrinth of pipetting. But what made it all worth it was the community. In other words, the real SSP was
the friends we made along the way pranking the TA’s.