Biological Research and the Health Professions
Summer College 2012
Hello, my name is Nico, and I've just completed my junior year at the Woodlands High School in Houston, Texas. I'm originally from Venezuela, but I've had the pleasure of living abroad my entire life in three continents and three states. I like to row and I'm currently a member of the Rowing Club of the Woodlands. I also love playing guitar.
For a while I've been focusing my academic interests in science following my decision to study medicine. I'm not sure whether I'd like to do research or practice as a physician, as I find both options equally interesting at this stage. This summer I will be participating in the Biological Research and Health Professions program and will be taking two additional biology related courses. I can't wait to move into my dorm at Cornell and I'm slowly but surely counting down the days until June 23rd.
I've never been to Ithaca before, but I have family in Upstate New York so I'm pretty familiar with the scenery. It's beautiful up there, especially in the winter. It'll be a nice switch from Texas, though it's too bad I won't be seeing any snow. I'm desperately looking forward to starting my courses at Cornell. Last night I happened to notice that my Evolutionary Biology class is from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. It should be a fun six weeks.
At first, I was disappointed to discover that I would be living in a single dorm for the next six weeks. I soon learned the value of a quiet place to study that doesn't involve walking ten minutes to the nearest library. Despite the single dorm, making friends has not been difficult. The people here are uncommonly friendly and I've even bumped into some old friends from where I last lived. It's unfortunate I'm only one of twenty five in the Explorations in Bio Research program, but then again it allows for a more personalized learning experience.
As for my classes, they have all been stimulating and enjoyable. I was surprised to see that there are no more than twenty students in nearly all my courses. I was especially impressed by Evolutionary Biology. I expected straightforward three-hour lectures on evolution, but was instead rewarded with deep, philosophical discussions on our individual perceptions of reality. And games. My professor, Dr. MacNeill, is a wily, energetic older man whose lectures are engaging and thought provoking, which makes up for the 6:00-9:00 p.m. time slot. It has so far been my favorite class, although Comparative Physiology is not far behind. It follows a more typical schedule, but both classes are still vastly different from anything I've encountered in high school. As expected, they're fairly fast paced, which means long nights and grueling mornings. Nonetheless, my first week has been spectacular, and I'm looking forward to many more.
While not studying or working, I've been out and about with friends, exploring and discovering new areas on Cornell's beautiful Ithaca campus. There's a great cafe/soda bar in Collegetown called Stella's that I would highly recommend to anyone visiting the area. They serve some very neat custom sodas there. This week we also celebrated America's 236th birthday, which was accompanied by a friendly outdoor barbeque and some pretty spectacular fireworks in the evening. It was an inspiring event, and I was glad to have celebrated it at Cornell.
In addition, I've concluded that I desperately need a bike. This campus is enormous and since all of my classes are about a twenty minute walk from my dorm, I need a quicker mode of transportation. There are some scenic shortcuts I can take, but these require trekking uphill and I tend to find myself sweating by the time I reach class. I've also come to regret the decision of not bringing my guitar. I ache every time I hear a song I could play along to, but luckily I have some friends who brought theirs along. I'm happy to say it's been a marvelous experience so far, and I can't wait to see what's next.
Work, as usual, has been keeping me busy these past few days with deadlines and prelims looming around the corner. Luckily, Summer College has presented its students with a variety of trips and outdoor excursions which are great outlets for fun and stress relief. I missed the Canada trip deadline, but plan on going to Treman Falls this weekend. It should be an adventure/action-packed weekend!
I also had the opportunity to visit Treman State Park this past weekend. This outdoor excursion was some of the most fun I've had these past four weeks. My friends and I stumbled upon this beautiful waterfall with a swimming area underneath that we happily took full advantage of. Getting such a direct taste of nature was almost therapeutic.
As for my studies, I'm currently working on the final essay for my Evolutionary Biology class. Although I'm glad it's the last one I'll be writing, it's sad that the class will be coming to an end next Wednesday, a week before all my other courses. As I've said before, it's been my favorite course this entire summer and I'm grateful to have been a part of it.
As this program nears its end, I'll have to start preparing myself for a shift back into my "regular" routine at home. Although I can't wait to get my hands back on my guitar, I have a feeling I'm going to miss Cornell.
I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to experience college an entire year in advance. I discovered a great deal about myself these past six weeks while studying at Cornell, like my newfound interest in evolution. While I'll miss Dr. MacNeill and his entertaining lectures, I take comfort in the fact that his class helped me attain a more informed perspective on the history of the subject and its implications. I've also learned that good friendships can be forged in a matter of weeks. I don't think I'll lose contact with the friends I made here anytime soon.
As life begins to normalize, I find myself being buried beneath mountains of work. College applications, summer reading, and job seeking have all taken priority as I try to sort out some sort of workable schedule for the remainder of the summer. School starts in just over two weeks and my two summer reading assignments lay in pristine condition, untouched on my table. Although I can't say I'm thrilled about the reading, I am looking forward to being a senior in high school and all the perks that entails. It also means I'm one step closer to starting college. As that time draws near, I won't forget the time spent at Cornell this summer and I hope to be there again next fall!