A Final Tribute to the very first SSP in Astrophysics at UNC Chapel Hill

I don’t think it needs to be said that SSP does indeed live up to its slogan of the “educational experience of a lifetime” (since 1959). I learned so much (so quickly) about modern and nuclear physics, about special and general relativity, about stellar bodies, about our skies and our relationship with the stars, and an entire host of other, innumerable topics. And I had a lot of fun along the way: the beach day, the Bulls game, our weekly trips to Franklin street, watching Thor: Love and Thunder, seeing the James Webb pictures come out live. I also had a lot of (not so good) experiences and firsts: first time seeing and murdering a cockroach, first time getting sunburned, and first time getting bitten by a swarm of mosquitos. But despite all that, and despite the looming pressure of college apps now that the summer is more than halfway over, I would sign up for this 39 day experience all over again if I could, and I’m so grateful that I got to go through this challenge with 35 other intellectually stimulating and interesting peers.

Unfortunately, though, SSP is coming to a close, though you wouldn’t be able to tell because our schedules are still jam-packed. SSP is going full steam ahead to the very last moment. After two days of working on our Orbital Integration projects and determining the fate of our asteroid (most of our test particles died because they got too close to the sun, which is a bit boring if you ask me), we watched Hidden Figures (it was the first time I watched it, and it was just as good as I was told it would be), and afterwards people headed over to the observatory. And yesterday we had to be in the classroom by 9, bright and early and ready to submit our data to the Minor Planetary Center and listen to an interesting talk on galaxies, do some surveys… and you get the point.

But even so, it’s hard not to be a little bit sad that this journey is ending, and that by noon we’ll be gone.But even though there’ll be no more lectures from Professor H, or Dr. Kim, or Professor Virani, and I probably won’t step foot on this campus again, I’m still incredibly happy and grateful that I am one of the lucky few who got to go through this SSP experience in the first place, and I’m incredibly thankful to all the people who made it happen.

About Me:

My name’s Natalie, and I’m from the best place in the whole wide world: the California Bay Area. When I’m not slaving over psets or stressing about college, you can find me watching figure skating, cheering on the 49ers, watching k-dramas, or trying to get some much-needed sleep.