It was a 2 week, all expense paid, workshop available for underserved students who were interested in Science. I applied for it through notice of my English teacher, Mr.Wydra. My friends and I decided to apply, thinking if we don't get it, at least we tried, but through the help of Jeanette, from the College center, we got accepted. It was an amazing feeling to see that big brown packet in the mail, it felt like getting into college. The trip was paid, everything was free and we got a stipend of 100 dollars. We arrived to warm people of Schnectady, New York. The group bonded super fast, it was first day and we got along. The first night was incredible. I was nostalgic for about three days, but the counselors helped me cope. The classes were so incredibly intellectual. The teacher for Molecular Biology was hilarious at teaching. We were able to test our blood type through numerous pipettes and centrifuges and solution. It was cool to see our cells in this tube. then Immunology, we learned a new word, "Vanguard," which the professor described as being the leader of the class. It was a class that I will always remember because he was such a relateable teacher who made learning about diverse topics easy. We used a microscope to examine slides of a bone marrow, lymph nodes, and other parts of the immune system. We also drew them to better remember and understand them. He also presented a chart to describe how cells were sorted as either dadly or good and how they go through the different sides to be destroyed. Our last class was engineering, mostly with tissues, we did a static model of cells. It was this long process to do. we had to follow these thorough instructions of pipetting diefferent solutions to emphasize the cell. Then a high end microscope was used to view it, our nucleus was so visible and the static form was just amazing to see. However, aside from classes we also had work to do. We got assigned a partner to work with and you get a topic to research on which will be presented the last day. I got Brain Cancer. We worked for like a week and a half, non stop, but it was helpful. The counselors and professors were there if any help was needed, they made themselves available to us. I especially enjoyed the warm criticism of practice presentations because it really improved our presentation. We presented second from the group. I could feel everyone's nerves tied into a knot, but after, we could all breath and enjoy. Though we had rigorous research and work to do, we also had fun. We had a movie night, bowling day, and a ropes course. During free time after class, the group would play volleyball or basketball just near our living quarters. It bonded the group together, plus we had debriefing during the night to talk about the day and what was going to happen the next day. The movie we watched was Superbad, it was funny because all of us science "nerds" enjoyed the film. Bowling was fun also because it was competition time, but it was not a real competitive environment, most of the time we were taking pictures. There was also an impromptu buffalo wing eating contest during that day. We also got to explore target and just have a day outside of the campus. I forgot to mention the second day we were there, we went to Albany Medical Center, where graduates of Union usually attend to get their degree or residency. We had a presentation from their workers about different careers of science and a tour of the hospital. It was pretty surprising because we did not see the hospital with the hospital beds but behind it, all the research being done. There was this one student researching on a worm culture, she was in a lab of her own just testing with these materials. We also learned about smoking and its efects on our bodies, some of us got to breath into a tube to measure your lung capacity. The ropes course was supposed to be a team building exercise, but we were already bonding so it was more of a fun exercise. The counselors even got in and did some of the contraptions, like "Holy Cow." In Holy Cow you get lifted by your group about 100 feet above ground, then you pull a chord to swing. It was like George of the Jungle. We all got dirty from the ropes course, we played a game where one person is the seeker, but everyone does not know who it is, then get chased. After that we ate at a Chinese buffet, it was good. During the whole workshop, we ate at the cafeteria, good food, but there were some days when we got take out. We ate Italian food and Indian food, and Mexican food. What was also amazing was Fourth of July, we were in New York so Nathan's hot dog competition was famous. We all watched before class and even ran to class because we did not want to be late. We were such dorks, but if was fun. During our last night, we decided to pull an all nighter because my friends and I had to leave before everyone else. We danced, ate, played games, it was fun. When we were about to leave, everyone was sad, it was like, "When would we see each other again?" It felt so sad to leave them, we were so close to each other. The house we lived in combined all of us 20 students together to live together, share food, share a bathroom, be like a family. When we left, it was as if we left our home. It was surprising that 20 students from different places could bond so fast and get along for those whole 2 weeks. There was no drama at all, except for one bathroom getting clogged. It was worth the work and anticipation. New York was shown through a more calm lifestyle instead of their more busy culture. I would do it all over again, I recommend it to anyone who has never been far from their family before because you do go to a new family.
Union College Summer Science Workshop
October 19, 2008