English Composition 121
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bp1: what did my past self do?

What did past Keri do for present Keri to be in this position? I sometimes still think to myself at what point did all of this really begin? Was it when I first attended university? Was it when I met the community of computer scientists on campus? Or was it these past few weeks that is slowly changing and paving my life?
I still remember early 2015 when I had received a mail from Lehman College, and I did not think too much of it. I had asked my grandmother to pack it up in her bag to hide from everyone else, since assuming it was just a regular decision from the university. My grandmother was visiting and we had set a trip to the city with the whole family. I had completely forgotten about the letter until the end of the day when everyone was headed home, and my mom was leaving for work. I asked my grandma for the letter, and saw my acceptance to Macaulay. I was overjoyed because that was the best possible case for someone in my position. This moment was the beginning of how I had created a network and community among my peers at Lehman and Macaulay. This gave me the opportunity to meet professors who wanted nothing else than to support me and want to see me succeed; to meet friends who kept pushing me when I wanted to stop. I feel like I could investigate the experience of immigrants or first generation students and their experience with attending and applying to university for the first time.
Fall of 2016, my data structures professor for some reason had seen something in me. I think it was potential? He nudged me to attend the university hackathon, and I did. It was the first time that I had met the computer science community on campus. Meeting and interacting with these friendly people was a really nice feeling. I think this was the moment that pushed me to stop hating my hour and thirty minute commute to Lehman. I started to enjoy being on campus, even coming earlier and leaving later to hang out with my friends and professors. I think this experience really brought out the Keri out of me, because this was the moment that I was moving away from the general ed requirements and major focused classes. I could investigate the impact of hackathons for students and how it changes their lives. I have had peers that attended company sponsored hackathons and receive job offers or receive interviews to move forward. The angle of the diverse computer science community at Lehman can really help me.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Seattle for the first time. I had the opportunity to work on a research project with a researcher at Microsoft and get to spend a little over a week in Washington state to get some focused work done. This was such an unbelievable opportunity because past Keri would have never seen herself to be in this position. This experience had given me a good leverage since my top university for graduate school was University of Washington. I remember the day after I landed, I had received an email from my prospective professor wanting to set up a schedule to chat after reviewing my application. I reached out and mentioned that I was in the state and that I could come in for an in person meeting, as well as tour the campus for awhile. This reminds me of the last piece of writing that I had written: my personal statement for graduate school. I had written about the different research experiences that I had had, what kind of research I would be interested in, and which professors I would love to work with and learn from. I remember the writing process for that was super different and super new for me because I had no template to follow, there was no five-paragraph equation, and all I had were professors of various backgrounds to look over it. It was very difficult because different research fields were all different flavors of ice cream. A theoretical computer science professor would want my statement to be more rigid and direct, while my interest is on a more applied statistics or computer science type of field. There were no people on campus that could have helped me shape my essay the way I wanted it to be. I was very lucky to have met a PhD student who shared advice, and I really think that her support helped me write an above-average personal statement. I think the entire experience of writing my personal statement to actually seeing it being read and reviewed by a professor and get positive reviews would be an interesting angle to explore.
On another note, Hari’s Ted Talk on Addiction really gave to life about how his personal experience motivated his research on addiction. Looking back into these three experiences and my relationship with my family and friends, I definitely am very interested about how their unique backgrounds and being a member of our community drove and supported them to where they are now. Overall, think that I would really enjoy and love to investigate the experience of my peers in the tech community. What were their struggles and what were their successes? What pushed them to choose this career and what did they shift from? How much did their community help them get to where they are? I think it would be a great opportunity for me to learn more about my friends especially, because of how much they had helped me get where I am.

2 thoughts on “bp1: what did my past self do?

  1. Dhipinder Walia

    Thanks for sharing Keri. The post was actually meant to be a response to one of the prompts, not all. Because you spend time here attending to all of the prompts, I feel like there are unexplored autoethnography topics. For instance, in your first “Questions” response you reference an old Keri and a new Keri. I wanted to hear more about the two different Keri’s and why you’re interested in tracing the path to now. In your experiences post, you talk about finding out you were accepted in to MHC. I was curious to know why your initial reaction was to hide the note and wait until later to open it. Did you expect a rejection? Did you not think it was a big deal? Then, in your writing process prompt you mention the process of writing a grad app. I agree with you, writing a personal statement for grad school is SO HARD. And you’re right to point out one of the toughest parts is dealing with all of the opinions of mentors. I wanted to hear more about the relationship you have to writing as a Computer science student. What project are you hoping to work on when you get into grad school? You might consider this final project and opportunity to work through grad school project ideas as an important aspect of so much of the work you do in grad school is figuring out what you want to research and why.

    I’ve made some annotations using hypothesis (sign in and you’ll be able to see)

    DW

  2. Robert DeNisi

    Hey Keri,

    It is unfortunate that the first commonality that I seem to find between the two of us is trying to answer all of the blog prompts within one post. I feel your struggle trying to cram all of these ideas within one post while still be able to dedicate enough time and effort into one question, making sure that the answers you may have had for each prompt did not appear underwhelming. Now that we have that commonality established, I felt as though I could look at your post from a certain perspective that only I could understand (because of the struggles we both faced while trying to write all of this). I too am a Macaulay student, only I am just in my fourth semester and still don’t feel as though I have completely found my place within Lehman College. However, your piece was very comforting to know that I was not alone in this feeling (at least at some point in time) of feeling a little misplaced or left out (for lack of a better phrase). I’m glad that you were able to find yourself and let opportunities come to you and be presented by trusting individuals rather than it being forced upon yourself. By the way, I had no idea what a hackathon was before this post and had to look it up! I didn’t know that they had actual conferences for several days on computer programming, but that really just goes to show the ability to connect with peers that share similar interests. I’m glad you were able to use these experiences as a stepping stone in order to get into your first choice for your Ph.D.! Congrats!

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