Long Term Benefits
The enthusiasm and longevity of the Summer Science Program's support from its own alumni may be unique among summer programs for high school students.
That support demonstrates the profound effect SSP has had on the lives of its participants. Here are comments from some of those alumni:
2014 - California Campus
I always say this about every activity I'm part of, and it sounds like the most cliche thing, but it's also very accurate. SSP is all about the people you meet. Yes, astronomy and programming and all the academic stuff is awesome and they are valuable skills to have and the overall rigor of the program definitely helped me feel more prepared for college. However, all of that comes second to the fact that this place brought me together with brilliant, unique, and amazing people. I have never felt so inadequate in my life when I hear about the amazing things everyone here has done, but I also never felt even more at home knowing that I'm doing the same types of things the students here are. I have found my mindmates; I've found people who share my interests, my sense of humor, my passion and drive and enthusiasm for learning. I hope to stay in touch with everyone here because everyone has changed my perspective in life in different ways. -Hannah Nikole Almonte
What happens if you gather thirty-six bright students from all over the world for five weeks and a half? A lot of work? Definitely. Little sleep? Yes. Meaningful conversations? More than I can count. And... competitiveness? Surprisingly not. If you add to the ingredients listed above the degree of motivation of each and every person you meet here, you will realize that competition is not part of the SSP vocabulary. In SSP, you find yourself cooperating with your peers until 2 a.m. in order to finish the homework assignments on time, and everyone is eager to stay up late in order to help others. This is the magic of SSP - the friendly, enriching environment put together by motivated students who are sincerely passionate about learning. -Elba Alonso Monsalve
SSP can be described as a star. In the outer layers, one can find all the academic knowledge that the wonderful professors give; in the middle layers are all the fun experiences that students have; in the layers near the core one can find all those problems sets that personally and/or academically challenged the confidence of all students; and, in the very core, one can find the confidence that every student has to ask any question to anyone at any time. -Jessica Ambrosio
I think the essence of SSP is to be truly challenged academically unlike we can be in a high school environment. I think it definitely prepared me better for college. Also, I made some great friends here that I hopefully keep in touch with. -Mark Berger
SSP is the land of the Doge Uncertainty Principle - where you cannot tell the existence of an academic experience and a social experience at the same time. While maintaining an intense academic curriculum, SSP is a place where 36 people from wildly different places meet each other and realize that they are not so different after all. I had connections with other SSPers that I didn't even know existed. We are all from the same cult of mathematical and scientific genii with similar interest from around the world. Meeting these individuals and learning from them and befriending them has been thoroughly enjoyable and inspirational for me. -Rishabh Chandra
SSP is an experience that will impact me for the rest of my life. Working with students who love science as much as I do, who are kind, friendly, and helpful, and who have a great sense of humor, in order to learn about and complete the orbital determination project is something that has changed how I see myself and my future in science. I have made lifelong friends at SSP, and I can't wait to see what all of us do in our futures. -Sierra Chapman
The passion of the people here. Everyone is unique in his or her own brilliant way, and I learned to appreciate myself more by learning from others. -May Chen
SSP will change you in unexpected ways. There's so much to learn and to explore and to care about in the world, no matter what you're interested in. You'll meet people whose perspectives and passions are so different from your own, who will push the envelope of your worldview. You might agree with them or you might not, but you'll learn to understand them and you'll get a taste of their ardor and enthusiasm. Keep an open mind. Perhaps you'll find that you share that zeal too. -Zhanpei Fang
Because of SSP, I have realized who I am. I have found my abilities, my limits, and my true potential. There is nowhere I would have rather spent my summer. I come out with an understanding of myself. I come out with the greatest friends anyone could ask for. I come out with the knowledge and power to succeed in my endeavors in life. SSP has changed me forever. I am no longer stressed about being unready for courses because I have no background in the material. SSP has shown me that hard work and the enthusiasm to learn can overcome that. SSP takes you in, molds you, and compresses you until you come out shining like the scholars you are. SSP hasn't just changed me, it has transformed me. A metamorphosis incomparable to anything else anyone will ever experience. I come out a completely different person, ready to take on the challenges of the rest of my life head on. -Anthony Flores
SSP has changed me completely. I'm usually a late sleeper, but I've woken up early every morning because I know that whatever we're going to do, it's going to be amazing. In only six short weeks I have found a new love in computer science and been exposed to at least three different foreign languages. I've learned how the universe began and where it's going. I've learned to swingdance, longboard, bodyboard, and frazz. I've learned the names of the constellations and how to observe them. I've met the nicest people in the world and had a chance to learn from them. I've learned to work hard and take every opportunity both academic and otherwise. SSP has completely changed my plans for the future and prepared me for what lies ahead. -Zoey Flynn
SSP is an environment where you will be challenged. It's where you will be humbled and you will have to ask for help. A place in which you will get some research experience and collaborate with some of the most intelligent, talented people you have ever met. That's SSP! -Isaac Guerrero
It showed me just what I was capable of doing if I am willing to work hard. -Sawyer Hart
At SSP, you can walk into the classroom and say, with a low error bar, that you are not the smartest person there. Never have I been so thoroughly surrounded by smart people, and never have I been so content to be comparatively unintelligent. At SSP, you realize that you are not the smartest person ever, and that you don't need to be. -Jonathan Heckerman
I discovered myself at SSP. I am a better (italicize "me" please) me because of SSP. Each experience has been another piece in the jigsaw puzzle that is the meaning of life (42? You have to find out for yourself!). The conversations, the existentialist crises, the random epiphanies... this was my SSP. -Saanya Jain
This has been the best summer of my life. Never before have I learnt so much in so little time. SSP is not a science camp. Period. It is a character building process. Everyone emerges as a new individual, with different perspective about life, the universe and everything. I can't even imagine the introvert I was before the program. These six weeks have filled me with confidence and enthusiasm and given me a clearer idea about what I want to do in the future. However what makes SSP truly special is the people. I've made friends that I won't forget for the rest of my life and met people with the most amazing ideas. The experience has been great! -Aditya Khandelwal
SSP is the work and academics you would expect from the greatest math and science students in the country, but it's more than that. It's also the social experience of a lifetime. When you put all the kids in a room together, you can feel the determination that is consistently there throughout SSP. However, you can also feel that we're just a bunch of kids who want to have fun doing it, doing it together. SSP doesn't have the competitive setting that one would expect. Instead, it has the best dynamics between students I have ever seen. -Kush Khosla
I can say without a doubt that SSP has made this summer the best and most memorable of my life. Having been tested here both to my mental and physical limitations, I emerge with a better understanding of myself and other people. But through all the various activities and experiences that I have had here, one thing has consistently made them all the more valuable: the people. Everyone here is truly amazing, and to have had this opportunity to spend so much time with them is both humbling and exciting. I will always remember the friendships, the beach trips, the late-night talks, the card games, the star-gazing, and the stressing over the orbital determination with them for the rest of my life. Looking back, it is amazing how fast my time here has passed. I will cherish my few weeks here with them forever. -Matthew Li
I learned more about experimental research. -Zheyu (Joey) Li
SSP is such an amazing experience. It is a place where nerdy jokes are appreciated and neutrino is a driving question during lunch. Beware: I thought SSP would help me narrow down my decisions regarding college and career choices. However, SSP only opened up more options and possibilities for the future. I have made friends that I will keep for a lifetime and made memories that I will cherish forever. Before SSP, I was not very interested in astronomy. Now, I enjoy gazing up at the sky and retracing what our ancestors saw when they gazed up. It is truly beautiful and mysterious. -Minh Nguyen
It will take me weeks, maybe years, to figure out how SSP changed me. Until I figure it out, I'll look back at SSP as the most academically humbling, socially rewarding experience of my life. -Nisarga Paul
I learned a lot about programming, astronomy, and related subjects while at SSP. However, I believe that the work habits I developed here are more important than the specific things I learned. For example, I've realized how little sleep you actually need to be lucid enough to do different tasks efficiently. Also, I became very good at accomplishing things on time. I won't say that I've learned to not procrastinate, since that simply isn't true; however, I believe that I have perfected the art of procrastination. While working on your problem set, there is a rate associated with the infinitesimal fraction of the entire problem set (dp) that you complete in an infinitesimal time element (dt). To procrastinate effectively, you must work faster as you approach the deadline, so d/dt (dp/dt) is greater than zero. The exact curve to follow for dp/dt is something you get from experience. (Alternatively, you can just ignore all of this and not procrastinate). -Jacob Pierce
SSP, while being one of my most memorable and life-changing experiences, is truly indescribable; words are simply inadequate. I arrived expecting merely a five-week academic challenge, but I have received so much more. This program has not only stretched me intellectually, but it has also unmasked to me the diversity of brilliant minds in this world. Each and every one of us has limitless potential so long as we continue to reach. And reaching is precisely what SSP has so artfully and deftly taught us to do -- reaching academically, reaching socially, reaching mentally, reaching psychologically. -Linda Qin
Learning from such a brilliant and inspiring group of people really is the most unforgettable and life-changing part of SSP. The challenge of SSP has been such a rewarding experience that has pushed me to my limits, broadened my imagination and curiosity, and changed the way I think about the world around me. -Nehal Rawat
The most important part of SSP to me was the new concept of learning that it allowed me to develop. Through being so immersed in a community of passionate students, along with a very accessible and non-pedantic faculty, I realized how important it is to learn for the sake of learning, rather than for anything else. I will try to remember this when I poorly on a test, but especially when I do well; I realize that exams do nothing but allow people, including myself, to judge me. True learning and understanding has a value that can never be evaluated, and it is now one of my highest priorities. The environment at SSP allowed me to see how incredible a passion for learning can serve somebody, and the perspective I gained will allow me to achieve my full potential as a student in life. -David Rower
There's so much to be said about the essence of SSP. Every aspect of SSP plays a different, but pivotal, role in the experience. I learned new things about myself and was reminded about characteristics I used to have that I had forgotten about. I discovered my limits, and I pushed past them. I met people I can talk to for hours on end, people I can trust, people that I know will still be there for me next month, next year, five years from now.... I will never forget all that SSP gave me, and I hope that ten, twenty years from now, I can be as involved as the countless alumni that I had the privilege of meeting throughout the program. The academic and social benefits of SSP are something that cannot be paralleled, and I am so grateful for having been given this incredible opportunity. -Alexandra Smerekanych
One cannot merely describe the essence of SSP - one must immerse oneself in such an environment to comprehend the true prowess of said program. Who am I kidding, I can talk about SSP all day. SSP has forced me to look within myself and realize my flaws and areas of weakness. I think that this is one of the most important parts of SSP - seeing the true form of yourself. The challenge of the classes and the unity with others I feel here are things that I have not experienced before, and I hope to be part of such a community again in the future. SSP is not one thing; it is space, science, math, friendship, teamwork, support, patience, love, determination, motivation, drive, hilarity, humility, passion, introspection, and happiness. SSP has changed the definition of these concepts, and I hope to adhere to these new ones for my whole life. -Christina Sue
The essence of SSP is working hard to accomplish things to be proud of with your friends rather than learning new interesting subjects, although that's certainly a part of it. SSP has been a place where I've learned and challenged myself academically, but it's the experience I had with the people I've met here that made SSP what it is. -Mehmet Tuna Uysal
SSP is the single best experience I've had in the past few years. I have never been so inspired and so motivated by the people around me. I was always interested in the STEM field before I came here, but SSP made sure that I would definitely want my future to be in this kind of environment. Before coming to SSP, I thought it would be fun to spend time with people who love STEM as I do; upon coming here, I realized it is even better than all the good things I had imagined it to be. For me the essence of SSP has been working with all these brilliant people who inspire me in every way possible and give me a new perspective of my own life in ways I never imagined. -QiQi Wang
There's a large gap in the road between where you are and where you want to be. You jump, and fall just short; some of your friends make it across unfazed. As you realize you're not going to make it, suddenly a group of 35 collectively grabs your hands and pulls you up to the other side. I suppose that's really what SSP is all about to me: teamwork. It doesn't matter what OD team you're on, everyone has the same struggles and hardships, and everyone knows some solution to some problem. Collectively, everyone avoids the gap of problem sets and write-ups and observation failures, and emerges victorious on the other side. It's changed me because I know how much help I need, how social I am, and other such stuff. The testimonials are true, and this place is one-of-a-kind. -Richard Wang
The essence of SSP is friendship, ramen, magic, and incredibly late nights spent working on problem sets and programming in the computer lab. -Julia Wei
As the faculty often say, SSP is like drinking out of a firehose. The intensive curriculum is second only to the overwhelming plethora of experiences outside of the classroom. I will never forget the OD, the star parties, the late-night discussions, or the smile on everyone's faces at 2:00AM the night of the OD report. But more importantly, the bonds formed at SSP will stay with me for a life-time. I walk away with a better understanding of myself knowing that I will always remember this experience of a life-time. -Congwen (Nancy) Xu
How can I describe SSP? Coming to the end of my journey now, finally having to come out of denial that yes, the program does end, I am asked to capture the essence of SSP. I can tell you that I have grown academically. I have gotten used to long lectures and problem sets that require group brain power. I can tell you that I have grown socially. I have found some of the most wonderful people on Earth, many of which I hope will be my lifelong friends. I can tell you that I've learned more about life, both in general and mine in particular. I have learned that life has strange turns and that have yet to fully understand my own life. But I have learned so many things, grown in so many way, that these few statements above just don't capture it. While the program is only 5 and a half weeks from our lives, in those 5 and a half weeks I have lived at least a year. All those experiences that have so radically impacted me, I cannot express in a few compact statements. So I've tried to fully convey the essence of SSP, but there are so many things that I haven't put in. But as long as I know them myself, and never forget...well that's what really matters. -Michelle Xu
SSP was a very humbling experience for me. It taught me why collaboration is better than competition. You will be amazed to see how much you will learn by collaborating with other people. -Orhan Efe Yavuz
2014 - New Mexico Campus
SSP is an unforgettable journey of discovery. Being constantly surrounded by such fascinating and diverse students proves a truly humbling experience. Every SSPer has something to offer, anything from moving musical talent to impressive astronomy skills. And yet, despite our varying backgrounds, we all share the same sense of curiosity, an insatiable desire for understanding. I arrived at SSP unsure of what to expect, but ready for some sort of challenge. And I was right. Every problem set and every lecture pushed me to think differently. Even when I did not understand some complex physics problem or had trouble debugging code, my peers were always ready to help. Moreover, alongside the incredible social and work experience, SSP sparked in me a continuing appreciation for science. I came to New Mexico with no astronomy experience, and I left the campus with a huge respect for the field of study. Even if I do not wish to study astronomy in the future, the experience of observing at Etscorn Observatory with a C14 telescope and tracking an asteroid across the night sky is irreplaceable. Indeed, no other program can replicate what SSP does. My SSP experience was intensive, incredibly rigorous, but above all, immensely rewarding. I learned that I am more capable than I ever imagined, and I made the most incredible friendships along the way. -Emily Abdo
SSP is doing the most work that you could possibly do while also having fun. -Daniel Assumpcao
SSP is a roller coaster. There isn't really any way to prepare yourself for it, and you will be terrified and having the time of your life the whole way down. You make friends at SSP that you will cling to for the rest of your life, and you definitely gain new perspective and move faster than you ever thought possible. But SSP is also like a roller coaster in that you never want in to end, and as soon as it's over you just want to do it again. -Claire Burch
The essence of SSP is being with 35 other people who are all similar to you but have qualities, talents, or hobbies that make them unique. SSP has made me realize that I am capable of much more than I believed academically and as a person, and has given me experiences that I will never forget. -Alexander Chang
At the core of SSP is one concept: support. Everyone supports each other in being themselves, embracing their interests, getting through everything. You can't get through on your own; just hold on for dear life, and everyone will get through together. It's the only way, and it's best way. Everyone here needs everyone else, and together we are unstoppable. -Rachel Cohen
SSP is seriously the best choice for your summer!!! This program was the most intense academical experience I have ever had, with lots of early deadlines, work over work over homework over work, with AMAZING field trips, with amazing people and so much fun that sometimes you just can't or don't want to end it and start doing something else. I love SSP! The students, the TAs, the professors, the food, the lectures, the homework, everything. It is an amazing opportunity and you shouldn't miss it!!! -Paul Andrei Draghis
SSP is the most academically and socially intense experience of my life. You're surrounded by 35 other people who share a weirdly specific set of interests, doing real research. It's unlike anything available in high school, and something I'm sure I'm never going to forget. -Luke Finnerty
Spending time working hard and playing even harder with a group of people who you can call family. -Juan Carlos Garcia
It feels like we've known each other for years, brought together in a common goal to do real science. The amount SSP has done for me, mentally and socially, is unreal. -Roland Huang
At my school I do not get much of a chance to spend a lot of time with people who share my interest in math, science, and computer programming. It was really special to spend six weeks with 35 other students, as well the four TA's, Dr. Rengstorf, Dr. Andersen, and Aaron Bauer (even if it wasn't quite six weeks in Aaron's case). I have been really interested in using computer programs to help with an actual research project and SSP's project was a great way of doing just that. -Louis Hyde
SSP is about thinking deeply of simple, pure concepts from all scientific arenas. The concepts magically combine in the orbit determination process, and in pursuing that collective goal, we form the strongest bonds. The experience has changed my vision of scientific collaboration. Learning about the outer unknown brings all of us together regardless of our individual views. -Ji Seok Kim
SSP is an intense experience designed to change your perspective on academics, friends, life in general. And it does just that. From seemingly impossible to understand lectures to playing soccer and ultimate frisbee with my closest peers, SSP has showed me a completely new side of life. I am grateful for being able to spend five and a half weeks re-discovering myself while surrounded by 35 extremely talented, extremely interesting, extremely awesome people. SSP is an experience I will never forget, and I will definitely use the lessons I learned here in college and probably for the rest of my lfie. -Diana Kowalski
The essence of SSP is being surrounded by brilliant people who love learning just as much as you do and realizing that you get to spend almost six weeks not only learning about how to determine the orbit of an asteroid, but also learning from each other. Sometimes, you will be frustrated, you will be scared, you will be overwhelmed, but you will come out the stronger, wiser, and braver for it. And you will never regret attending. -Olivia Larkin
SSP changed me a lot. The bonding and collaboration between SSPers are the strongest companionship I have ever seen in my life. Everyone has been so amazing and inspiring and through this mode of survival I have come to realize the importance of pushing myself really hard through the challenging work and the meaning of pure friendship. -Han Le
Reaching my near maximum potential at SSP was an anticlimactic feeling. There was no fanfare, no ovation. Just a small feeling of knowing that I could do whatever I set my mind to. Every day here, you are pushed to your limits, whether that means learning faster than you have ever learned before, or to work later into the night, later than ever before. And as each generation becomes more liberal about education, we take for granted our abilities as "gifted" high school students. We are all guilty of procrastinating and wasting time. We are not as good as we can be, but here at SSP, we test our outer boundaries, reshaping our minds. Yet no matter how fleeting the experience may be the small feeling of knowing that you can do, was enough to push me forward, faster than ever before. -Kevin Lee
People. You may learn the knowledge later, but you may never meet such a group of amazing people. I learn to accept diverse values, and I know what I want through talk with each other. -Zhiru (Albert) Liu
SSP is confusion, sleep deprivation, challenges, and frustration. It is learning, living, loving, and improving. We do programming, programming, and more programming. We eat all possible types of potatoes in the dining hall. We visit every existing observatory in New Mexico. We are even closer than we thought. SSP, we call it our home. -Shirley Lu
SSP was probably the program that has changed me most and in the shortest period of time. SSP made me know how productive and efficient I can really be in studying, by raising the rate of study to the limit. I have never learned so much at such an accelerated pace, which was not only a challenging, but also a sense of achievement-bringing experience. I think that, from now on, it would be much easier for me to study, because I'm sure I learned how to do it the right way, and also because I doubt I would find myself in another such place with the heaviest schedule ever. -Tamara Macharashvili
SSP is finding yourself surrounded by minds of great intellect collaborating together in the hopes of accomplishing the Orbital Determination project and rejoice once you have crossed the great expanse that is the Summer Science Program. SSP is a place to grow, a place to learn, a place for science. -Luis Martinez
During SSP, a high school student becomes a college student and a research scientist. So many life and career opportunities have become apparent during these six weeks, and I can't wait to embrace them once I enter college. -Scott McKinley
SSP is a time in which incredibly gifted and talented people have an opportunity to truly learn what they are capable of and meet people like them. Never before have I been surrounded by so many people so smart and driven. It reminded me what I can look forward to and showed me a community I will cherish forever. It opened a window to a future I hope to have. -Cameron Paige
I think the essence of SSP is learning to really work together, think, and thrive in an academically challenging environment. -Alexandra Palocz
The point of SSP is less about learning astro, or math, or physics, or programming. It's more about learning who you are. Not only what you can do but also what you can't. Push your limits. You'll be surprised. -Kinam (AKA Danny) Park
SSP means working harder than ever before. Sitting, listening to the lecturer lecture in the lecture hall, completing problem sets, and coding. SSP means living, and forming bonds stronger than any ever before forged. SSP means stepping out into the clear night sky, and gazing into the light filled field of view in absolute, humbling silence at the stars. -Krsna Raniga
SSP is this strange environment filled with a bunch of really amazing teenagers who have unbelievable talents and kills. Everyone here belongs and fits in somehow. It feels as though these people are friends and family all at the same time. I cannot exactly tell how this place has changed me, but I do know it has. I think I have become more interested in and excited for college and studying a subject such as computer science or physics. I have also grown mentally here. I have learned a lot from just talking with people from all over the U.S. and even all over the world. Culturally I learned a lot about different places and about New Mexico. I felt like I got immersed in New Mexican cultural activities, and really enjoyed learning new things. I have learned a lot about astrophysics, but also a lot about life in general. Overall it was great and changed me in positive ways. -Rachel Resnick
Before coming to SSP, I was a "smart person" at my school. A large portion of the effort I put into essays, assignments, and tests was done because it was what people thought I should be doing. That all changed when I got to SSP. I learned to work hard for myself, instead of doing it to fulfill someone else's idea of how I should work. Instead of trying to make it seem like my success was effortless, SSP made me proud of putting in hard work and long hours to solve even the simplest of problems. SSP introduced me to people with completely different circumstances than myself, who are beautiful musicans, genius Olympiaders, athletes, and more often than not, more than just one. These people challenged me to do better than what I thought was my best, humbled me, helped me solve problems, kept me sane, and altogether contributed to a safe space. Though I don't know who I am completely, I think that SSP has put me on the track to discover that more than anything else I've ever done. -Quinn Shepherd
SSP is unique. It puts you in a new situation and puts you with all the amazing people you knew existed but just couldn't find. It lets you discover the amount of sleep you need and the amount of down time to not feel stressed. Because of SSP I am independent, thoughtful and confident. Because of SSP I am now a man. -Adam Stanford-Moore
SSP has been an experience to broaden my mind both through learning about astronomy, math, physics and programming and by meeting a diverse groups of peers. The asteroid orbit determination project let me delve into astronomy, a field that I would otherwise have had no exposure to in high school. This research project is truly unique and unlike any other summer opportunity you may find. SSP has taught me a lot about what it means to engage in collaborative work. SSP is really a community experience. I think everyone here feels like they have made friends they will keep in touch with for a long time. Overall SSP has given me a broader outlook both academically and socially. -Gigi Stark
The essence of SSP is helping others find their way academically while they help you because science is done in groups. No individual is as smart as everybody. -Natalie Wigger
SSP has been a journey of self-discovery aided by astronomy, math, physics, programming, and 35 of the most brilliant and enthusiastic (in both the academic and the social aspects) people I will ever know. I have emerged more cultured and knowledgeable than before, and I am pleased with what I have become. The SSP trajectory has been an unforgettable and enlightening one, and its essence will be forever embedded within me as I continue to thrive. -Juliette Xiong
A balance of academic rigor and having fun with friends. I learned a lot of social skills, and feel much more comfortable hanging out with American students---it's hard to get totally adapted to a different culture for internationals like me. I think after SSP I will be more prepared and confident about the social aspects in college. It also made me love Astronomy more and really get into it at a college level. -Wenhao Xuan
The essence of SSP is discovery, academically but also socially, which will ultimately have the biggest long term impact. When I interacted with everyone in this incredible community, I was humbled and awed. SSP has given me infinitely robust bonds, bonds that will catch me when I fall, bonds that will help me shatter my limits, bonds that have changed me forever. I found a second family at SSP, and I'm glad I lived every moment of it. -Leroy Zhang
2013 - California Campus
When we were presented with the orbit determination, it seemed impossible, and yet, it's finished. While the OD was, at times, challenging to the point of incredulousness, it is not the central part of the program. SSP is made up of moments- from laughing at a seemingly impossible math problem with your friends at 5 in the morning, to when you can piece together superficially unrelated concepts, to that first instant when you see that faint smudge of an asteroid dance across your telescope images. Never before have I been in such a dynamic environment, where it's okay to jump around with excitement about space during lectures, and where everything you learn is engaging and awesome and always creates more discussions and questions. There is always something amazing happening in the scientific world, and it felt like this at SSP, in the most startlingly brilliant way possible. -Caitlin Fischer
SSP is every single nerdy cliche ever, put together in a non-cliche way. It was an amazing experience that redefined who I am and the way I see myself. -Huijia Yu
There are no words that can describe the true essence of SSP. Everyone experiences something different here at SSP though profoundly, similar ways. Everyone at SSP is family. We stick together for the better. Knowledge is power. The only question is how it is obtained. Here at SSP, knowledge is gained through determination, perseverance, and will. The will to continue and the continuous support of friends make SSP an invaluable experience. Only at SSP can long lasting friendships endure for an eternity. Only at SSP can we discover ourselves, our true potential, our path to success, our entity of knowledge. -William Lopez-Cordero
One may think that the essence of SSP is to specifically make its participants become even more interested and affectionate toward science; however, this is only true to some extent. The genuine essence of SSP is to change its participants in the most beneficial and memorable of ways. Yes, some participants will acknowledge their definite love for science while others may not, but, overall, by the end of the program, everyone will have an even more precise idea of where they want to go, what they want to be, and what they want to do. And this ability to prompt a more focused mindset in each participant toward his or her future is what characterizes SSP. This is why SSP is maintained by its alumni: all participants owe a fantastic amount of credit to SSP for setting up their lives. This essence is amazing and I've definitely been doused in it throughout the program. Thank You SSP! -David Morales
SSP is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Coming from the top of my class at my high school, it took me a while to adjust to the environment here at SSP. For most, it is one of the first times we've ever felt challenged. Most of us have never stuggled this much before. None of us have ever felt this... average (or even below average) It's an amazing journey that even the smartest kids need to experience. Everyone struggles here, but that's the point. You learn that you are not as smart as you think you are. At the same time, you learn you are capable of so much more than you could have ever imagined. Most importantly, you learn about yourself and what you want. You learn about the person you want to be, the way you want to live your life, and the environment that you want to live it in. While all of us will go off in our separate ways to do amazing things, we will never forget SSP, the people here, and what it has taught us. -Rebecca Gracia
SSP has been the dream I've never quite been able to articulate. Sometimes it's been scary or challenging or just plain crazy, but ultimately I've truly become myself at SSP. I can now say that I know who I am. -Lysha Matsunobu
The essence of SSP seems to be a transition. We are all at a very important stage in our life, we face a multitude of decisions that will dramatically alter our lifetime. We are all defining who we are, deciding who we want to be months, years, decades from now. In the midst of all this, we attend SSP. For a painfully short time, we are surrounded by others in our shoes, and some who have overcome the obstacles we currently face, to give us a few words of advice before we plunge back into reality. It is an incredible opportunity, not only to learn (though indeed we learn a lot, more than we could ever absorb), SSP is a sort of crystal ball, showing us our future, dare we choose to continue on the path we have chosen for ourselves. I will never be the same after this summer, how can I? All my life I have fantasized about going to the moon, and today, I am halfway there. -Denis Russu
It's been an amazing experience in all aspects, it helped me to know who I am and who I want to be. I found out what my limitations where, how to arrange my time and how to deal with the problems you will have to face in life. Overall, it's been awesome! -Laia Domingo
It is in the darkest of the night do the stars truly shine. I learned that here at SSP. Not out observing. Not when we were stargazing. I learned that when it was 2 o'clock in the night and the computer lab is packed with students fighting against the dreaded homework. I learned that during breaks during lectures where students would take power naps. I learned that when the day before homework due dates, new ones would be assigned. I learned that every day and every night that I spent here. It is in my greatest belief that the students here are not okay. The students have never been like this. They have never been pushed to this limit before. And their limits will break, but know that that is exactly what they want. That is exactly why they signed up. Thank you for everything, and watch the children here with careful expectations. Watch them with doting eyes as they strive for success and reach for their dreams. They will shine so bright. Ever so bright. -Quang Tran
SSP is intense, incredibly fun science with a community of truly awesome people. It has helped me grow academically by showing me that I really can do much more hard science than I thought, but that it can also be very valuable and time-saving to gain a deeper understanding by asking for help. More importantly, my love of learning has deepened greatly due to the combination of challenge and lack of formal credit. I also got to socialize and become friends with many incredible people here and became much more socially confident. Really, it may be an understatement to say that SSP is life-changing. -Amanda Barth
The essence of SSP is scientific collaboration between some of the smartest kids you'll ever meet. It has not only introduced new topics of interest to me, but has also improved my work ethic and desire to complete projects, despite their challenge level. -Irena Martinez
The essence of SSP is to meet like-minded, talented people from a diverse range of backgrounds. It helped me realize how many of those people are out there. It instilled in me a new motivation, that I can work to eventually get together with these people and spend time with them all day. I no longer worry too much about getting through each day as much as something greater that I can work towards and fight for. Go science! -Lizhou Sha
SSP has taught me about my capabilities and my limits. It showed me just how much I can accomplish. It's 36 of the smartest, coolest people you will ever meet spending 5 and a half weeks doing something truly amazing. It's incredibly difficult but infinitely rewarding, and it's molded me into the person that I'd always hoped I would be. -Megan Spencer
I know this sounds cliched, but SSP has given me the opportunity to become friends with some of the most brilliant people I've ever met and the opportunity to explore scientific research. On a less serious note, I have learned to survive (and enjoy) a challenging workload with significantly less sleep than I would like. -Andrea Lin
SSP is 35 awesome people and one humble self working together to survive having knowledge lovingly shoved down their throats, then applying that knowledge to a week of frantic coding and debugging and not sleeping. It is the hardest academic pursuit I have ever been through, but it is the most rewarding and fun as well. I know that I have matured as a person, both academically and inter-personally, and I have gained the confidence to continue at a higher level in college. -Tynan Kennedy
SSP is a model of intense work (such as college work) just as many topics encompassed by the SSP curriculum are models of various physical phenomena. So many variables go into this model: socializing, academics, food, sleep, and staff and faculty. At the same time, please don't be fooled into thinking that SSP is superfluous for the reason that SSP experiences could be acquired by attending college. Instead, SSP is a model of college based also on the variable that we are in high school and have a specific project that we're all working on at the same time. Don't miss out. I also encourage you to push yourself hard at SSP: really hard. The academic work is obviously intense. Take it upon yourself, though, to complete each and every bit of this required work and more if you can. A word on particular variable of the model: sleep. One's experience at SSP is roughly inversely proportional to the amount of sleep that he gleans while at SSP. Please enjoy your time with others. To this end, sleep but don't sleep much. Save excessive amounts of sleep for Sundays. Enjoy! -Sanjay Subramanian
SSP was one of the best experiences of my life. It was extremely fulfilling to learn so much about the universe and to get to explore many aspects of science in an in-depth way. Although SSP appears to have a focus on science and academics, it was also about meeting new people. There were so many interesting people here, and I know I have made lifelong friends. SSP helped me branch out and become a more creative and independent person. -Amara McCune
Twenty years after SSP you will not remember it as the 5 and a half weeks in which you did not sleep. Rather, you will remember it as period in your life where you bonded with like minded individuals through the adversity created by those 5 and a half weeks without sleep. -Scott Viteri
Best. Summer. Ever. People are amazing. The learning is amazing. Everything is amazing. These are the group of people I will be talking to even in 50, 60, or even 70 years. I, as a person, have become much more motivated in pursuing a career within the sciences. -Sachi Kamiya
It's the people around you, I've learned so much from them; starting from Rubrik's cubes to swimming. I reached limits that I didn't think I would reach. -Ammar Ahmed
SSP taught me to value collaboration, challenge, and astronomy... and sleep. It was probably the best choice of my life so far to come here. -Kiya Govek
I defined my boundaries, pushed past them, and then redefined them all over again. SSP shows you that there really is no limit to what you can achieve. -Samhita Karnati
The essence of SSP is that by sticking a bunch of incredibly smart, fun, kind people in a pressure cooker of physics, math, astronomy, and programming, a diamond of awesome pops out. In less playful terms, SSP not only expands your mind, but expands your ability to interact with people of equal minds, and truly creates a network of friends and colleagues that lasts forever. -Daniel Palumbo
SSP is like a game of Shadows Over Camelot. The knights are your peers, TAs, and the professors and all most work together to complete the quests. Your quests for the Holy Grail, Excalibur, and Sir Lancelot's armor are the academic challenges you face at SSP to complete the research project. Occasionally, the professors might become traitors and throw more challenges (siege engines) at you. But in the end, you and your peers (the knights) will always gather around the Round Table victorious and having completed one of the greatest challenges of your lives. But aside from being almost like this awesome board game, SSP was one of best experiences I've ever had in my life. It solidified my passions and choices for my future and rewarded me with 34 amazing people as friends. I don't think I could have asked for a better summer experience. -Caroline Liu
To say that SSP is amazing would be an understatement. The program is a fulfilling leap into the advanced astronomy, physics, programming, and math. You are overwhelmed and exhausted and, ultimately, fulfilled. -Sawyer Birnbaum
I think that I am capable of working in math and science. -Gailin Pease
Over the five weeks I spent at SSP, I learned more about what I want to do with my life than I had in the past 17 years. -Madeline Saviano
SSP was never about the OD. Maybe about the people you get to meet, the dreams you get to create, and the person you discover yourself to be, but it was definitely not about the OD. The OD was sort of like the light at the end of a path. You need it to keep going, it's what guides you after all, but once you reach where you wanted to be, it just becomes an ordinary light and nothing more. A wise man once said, "To travel is better to arrive." If you're wondering what that's supposed to mean I don't blame you. Before SSP I really didn't care what happened on the way as long as I got there. But being here, typing this in now, does it really matter that I finished the OD? Not really. The OD isn't what I will carry with me throughout my life, it's something to remember definitely, but it's every moment that led up to the OD that truly matters. Going out to the field at night and getting caught by Dr. Wigglytuff (sometimes I wonder what was going through his mind when he saw me), playing soccer with the sprinklers on and waiting a week for my shoes to dry even if it means starting to do HW at 3 am (Yeah, I did that - crazy but fun), teaching more than 3 people simultaneously how to do the Rubiks cube, and most importantly, jumping over each other just after we submitted the OD. SSP is one of those experiences which will change you forever, affect your life, and will definately help you discover who you are. Keep it, cherish it, believe in it, and with it as your guide become the person who you have always been yet were to afraid to be. To all those involved in running this program THANK YOU. -Omar Embaby
I have learned to work much harder because back at home the academic system is totally different (we dont get any homework) but here apart from 6 hour lectures I had to do homework for many hours. -Samiullah Malik
SSP has honestly been a life-changing experience. I didn't even think it was possible to learn so much in 5.5 weeks (both about science and about myself). The friends that I've made here are some of the most amazing people I've ever met, and I know that they'll stay with me for the rest of my life. But perhaps most importantly, SSP also taught me that life isn't about being the best; it's about being yourself. And that too I will carry with me forever. -Austin Richardson
SSP is not just about orbital determination; it's about making the friendships and participating in the intense collaboration that takes place between the minds of 36 brilliant young scientists. SSP has caused me to realize that friendships are one of the most important things in life. It's not about the grades or the competition; having the ability to enjoy education is one of the most valuable aspects in life. -Benjamin Lei
SSP.... well, it changed me dramatically. I thought I was gonna breeze through college, want a PhD, and totally be a famous astrophysicist before I came here. Alas... this place changed me. PhD... yes, I want it, but there was something else that sprung in my head. Being a full-time researcher, I want it but, something else sprung in my head. Now that's changed. I want to teach. Maybe college, maybe high school, no matter what it is. Astronomy is my thing, and I want to spread ideas and interest to the next generation. Also, once I heard being a full-time researcher is mobile and always working, I was turned off by that. I am a very lay-low person, and I do want to have a family and all that, and even at a young age, I wanted to teach, but that idea went dormant. However, it sprung up again, and I truly want pursue this. SSP still definitely kept me in wanting to stay in STEM, maybe not as a researcher, a creator of ideas, but one who will spread them, creating interest among the next generation of young minds. -Madison Greene
2013 - New Mexico Campus
The essence of SSP is in the bonds between its people. We are a web stretching out across the globe. We lift each other up when we can and catch each other when we fall. We will always have an expert to call or couch to crash on, sometimes in the same place. There is nothing quite like us. Together, we change the world. -Kimberly Dauber
Both academic and social experiences at SSP made me realize that I can go far beyond my own ability and limit when I work together with many brilliant peers to complete a common goal. Rather than feeling competitive toward other SSP peers, I felt sincerely happy and fortunate to collaborate with them throughout the entire time. The intense five and half weeks of SSP not only provided unquantifiable amount of academic enrichment and appreciation, but it also allowed me to reflect myself upon a mirror and use a 14-inch Celestron telescope to seek luminous goals that I hope to achieve in the future. -GiMin Choi
SSP was an incredible experience. I was in a situation where I was surrounded by brilliant people who shared the same enthusiasm for science that I did. The best thing that I will take away from this experience is the realization that I'm not in this to be better than anyone else, I'm in this because I like this, and SSP gave me the opportunity to learn alongside amazing people in an environment where I felt comfortable with not understanding something right away, knowing that as long as I tried my best and looked to my peers for help, I would make progress and learn something new. I ended up learning a lot more than I thought I would. -Guadalupe Buenrostro
SSP helped me learn about myself in ways I did not anticipate. I learned to push my limits, but also how to take care of myself and others. -Eliana Lorch
SSP is everything I expected and miles more. It is science and fun and amazing people, wrapped up in bundle of incomparable awesomeness. Never before have I felt so small, dwarfed by the stars and the sky and even the brilliant students around me. And yet never before have I felt so significant, so full of newly acquired knowledge and ready to change the world but willing to learn ever more. -Nancy Wei
SSP made me try a lot of new different things, and when I say "made me" I really mean it: I think nobody will forget those "fundatory" activities which turned out to be a great way to spend the little free time we had here: swing dance, yoga , pool parties and ,of course, Rebekah's blog ( sorry again for being late with the creative post). It was a great opportunity to meet new people that have the same interests as I do and to find those people with who I really enjoyed spending time here. Just like most of the people here, when I got to this program I had no idea how python works ,but soon after, everybody was able to write complex python programs and to plot pretty things using vpython. That was a really cool learning experience. I had the opportunity to live the college life before it actually started, to become a little more responsible, to visit some amazing places and to learn more than ever.... I guess that's what SSP really meant to me and that will be the way I will remember this summer. -Catalina-Ana Miritescu
SSP is the opportunity to learn a little about everything from some of the simultaneously most curious and most intelligent individuals I have ever met. More than just teaching me how to find an asteroid, SSP has amplified my intellectual curiosity, and I am so fortunate to have had this opportunity to meet the amazing group of faculty, guest lecturers, and, of course, SSPers. They have inspired me to reach for the stars in the hopes of finding an asteroid. -Ashley Taylor
The essence of SSP is that you will undoubtedly learn something even if you don't absorb a single drop of information in lecture. It is social environment where boundaries are broken and preconceptions are blurred, bringing glimmers of humanity out of every single person you meet. -Jackie Liu
SSP is anything and everything you make of it. You can choose to talk to every brilliant person here and laugh from deep within at the silliest things, or you can remain stuck in a trench of frustration and stress. How you face things will reflect the feelings, friends, and experience you take away from it. Through both challenges and utter joy, I've grown and learned more of myself - of how I react when faced with new trials, and of how I feel when meeting different kinds of people. Every experience shapes a person's life and adds another layer to their personality, and this one is no exception. -Karen Yang
SSP has made me realize how special it is to be a part of a community that cares about you. I have made so many deep relationships here and expanded my interests in unexpected ways. I'm going to miss all the people here, the late-night conversations with friends, and all the love they have shown. -Drew Schaffer
SSP has changed me in such a profound way, I can honestly barely imagine going back to being the self-contained, reticent, learning obsessed boy I was before. I now know that 'peers' can also be friends, and that true learning should not and cannot be attained in the closed area of one person's head. I am now an inquisitive scientist who finally understands the value of looking up from the books from time to time, and inviting others to contribute to my projects. -Manjul Pahwa
SSP is an environment unlike any other. It fosters curiosity, discovery, friendships, teamwork, and the bonding that comes from shared struggles. It showed me that there are so many opportunities for me in college and in my future career, some not even in science. The research I've done and the friends I've made are going to stay with me for the rest of my life, and despite the ridiculous pace, I feel like I've learned a lot about science and a lot about myself. -Dahlia Baker
Before coming here, I was bitter that I was an outcast at my school for working hard. As a result, I looked at studying rigorously as a painful but essential part of life, similar to eating vegetables. One particular day, in the middle of trying to finish our OD's, we paused to have a nerf gun war. While running around the computer lab dodging nerf darts, I had a sudden insight: intense learning and studying can be as fun as anything else, if not more. This experience, along with other experiences here, convinced me that there were other people just like me who were willing to grind down hard to reach their goals. This upcoming year, I will be able to return to my school, not care about other people's opinions, and approach the learning process with a more positive and enthusiastic mindset. -Wally Wibowo
The way that the challenge and people of SSP have changed my perception of what is possible cannot be described by words so why bother trying? -David Wang
This program takes the phrase 'Donating Sleep to Science' very literally. Despite, or perhaps because of this, it has somehow managed to gather together an amazing arrangement of people. There is something incredible about meeting a group who can so perfectly tread the dichotomy between diversity and like-mindedness, that they are able to truly envelop everyone here in a single, sleepless 5-and-a-half week adventure that we decided to call SSP. -Wyatt Mackey
SSP was one of the greatest experiences of my life. For the first time I had the chance to meet so many awesome people that had very similar interests with me, and work with them on a great project that thought me a lot about astronomy. SSP made me develop as a person, it developed my imagination and curiosity and helped me be prepared for collage and life in general. -Andrei Cuceu
"What's the essence of SSP? How has it changed you?" …I don't know. And that's the beauty of it. I don't know how I will be different a month from now, or a year, or a decade, but I know that I have changed. SSP is the experience of a year compressed into a day. -Susan Niederhoff
SSP. The Summer Sleep-deprivation Program. This program is about learning who you are, how you will respond to the real world, and of course science. It is a life changing experience and one that I will always cherish. I can't believe I somehow managed to be invited to come, but I am definitely glad I was. -James Parkes
SSP is not the program for stereotypical nerds. SSP has the cool nerds, the nerds who are sociable, the nerds who are actually like people. So, don't be scared of the other 35 people whom you are going to be learning and living with. Don't be scared of your TA's, no matter how scary they look. They don't bite at all. Rather, TA's can and will be your best friends. Sleep, but don't sleep. You need sleep to function properly and prevent yourself from getting curfew from the Site Director, but you don't need sleep at the same time because you will miss out on all the activities that happen late at night. You will learn what people are truly like at 3 AM. SSP is not scary. It is the last thing you need to be scared of. Losing your ID card or that one sock is much, much scarier. Now onto more serious matters. SSP is the place where you will learn who you are as a person as well as your strengths and weaknesses. It's not a place for you to shine and show off to the rest of the world your talents. It's a place for reflection and realization. To me, SSP has made me realize that I am not special. I am just a little part of the rest of the world. I am not exceptional. I am just an average person in the average world. SSP allows you to make that revelation to burst your little bubble and make you more aware of your status among students of the same graduating class. That is SSP. #YOSSPO -Stephanie Gu
SSP has showed me that I can have an incredibly fun and amazing time while also working very very hard!! I've also discovered how rewarding having a great group of friends can be! -Sadhana Senthilkumar
Before I came to SSP, I told my friend Lily the basics of what I would be doing here. She asked me, "How are you going to spend five weeks tracking asteroids? Won't you get bored?" At the time, I didn't know how to answer her, but now I realize that SSP is about so much more than just the asteroids. Over the course of this program, I have learned so much about astronomy, about physics, and most of all, about myself. SSP is a truly unique experience and I'm glad to have been able to be a part of it. -Natalie Nicolas
Try things you have never done before! I had never had any experiences with design, but at SSP I designed the SSP 2013 logo and tens of pages for the yearbook! SSP will find your hiding potentials and let them fully shine out! -Bio Jiageng Liu
For me, SSP was a chance to make new friends, try new things, and be independent. I got to use scientific equipment and conduct research without someone staring over my shoulder and telling me what to do. This independence was hard at first, but it was really a great experience and I think it will help me be more confident in general. -Karl Otness
SSP is a home away from home. I have developed so much, and made a connection so strong with the people and with the program that I dread having to leave. I laughed and I cried, but all in good nature. I cannot describe the experience. It feels good to say "I have accomplished this experience, and I don't regret a single thing yet I regret everything I missed out on." It is really something. -Ceidric Platero
The essence of SSP is discovery and individuality. I have not only realized my changing interests within the field of STEM, but have also been surrounded by amazing students and staff members that have given me the opportunity to connect with my inner self. SSP has forever changed my perspective on life. -Coleen Holden
The essence of SSP is not only about studying how incredible things are formed naturally, but also about how to accomplish those that are incredible when great minds come together. -Luya Wang
It changed my perspective of who I am and what the world had to offer beyond the limits of Marked Tree Arkansas. It let me know that there are people like me who share similar interests and are just great people. You do not see that where I'm from so it was great to see what kinds of people I really enjoy being with. -Brayden Smith
SSP is intense, obviously academically, but also socially. I have never had nearly this much freedom, and it was incredible how I have grown to handle it responsibly. I am so happy that I have gotten that life skill out of the way before college. I have never stayed up later than about 2AM to do homework here, but I stay up until 4AM most nights (there is no curfew!) to just talk to the amazing and diverse people here. That is something I could never do on a regular school night. Don't let the fact that there are no grades fool you; at SSP I have seen for the first time a group of people so passionate and committed to their academics that they are more intense than people at school, who are working for grades. At SSP, I have met and become friends with people I would have never thought I would even have a real conversation with and it has made me a more open-minded person. I have learned so much about independence and balance, and have become much more confident as a person. -Aparna Narendrula
SSP opened my eyes to the wide expanse of science and mathematics. The program, I felt, made me conscientious of how much I enjoy being surrounded by intelligent, fascinating peers who share an equal passion for the sciences. SSP has made me realize that I thrive in this kind of peer group, and it has convinced me to look again for such a wonderful mix of people. Not only so, but SSP confirmed my desires to go into the sciences, having been enthralled by the lectures, guest speakers, and field trips. -Raja Atluri
SSP is a unique program that offers a complete scientific research and social experience. It taught me what it is like to be a scientist, how to love science, and what to dedicate. -(Cathryn) Yining Chen
SSP is a place where you go in and discover you have no idea what you're doing. And when it's over, you still have no idea what you were doing but you learned something anyways. -Jiwhan Son
http://sspnm2013.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/the-sidereal-song-of-s-science-program-by-katie-dunn/ -Katie Dunn
At SSP, I became part of a community that learned with me, challenged me, humbled me, laughed with me, and inspired me to become a better student and a better person. -Bradley Emi
SSP is amazing because of its environment. For me, the essence of SSP is being able to reach beyond academic limits and social differences to achieve a wonderful, collaborative, and unique experience. Because of our common interest in science, we were able to do far more than we thought we could - not just as individuals, but as a collaborative group. It's the chance to explore anything you possibly can, while knowing that someone in the group is ready to teach or be taught something new. It's 100% "work hard, play hard" - and unforgettable. –Naveen Arunachalam
2012 - California Campus
Being in an environment where everyone cares about what you care about makes for an invaluable experience. -Rasmi Elasmar
SSP is learning more than you ever thought possible in so short a period of time about science, people, and yourself. SSP has made me a better scientist, friend, and person. -Lindsey Whitesides
SSP is an adventure. It's a fascinating opportunity to learn astronomical and mathematical topics taught, usually, only to college students. At the same time, it's an incredible social experience. You get to meet people that are similar to you yet so different. The people here all share a common interest in learning, but at the same time we have all had different experiences and interests. In that sense, SSP gives you the chance to meet the brightest people on the planet - the next leading generation of the world. For that, I am thankful for all the people I have met and the people that have made my attendance here possible. Attending SSP has helped me to become a more engaging student and better leader. The pressure that you work at under SSP will go a long way in helping me to balance life both in college and the workplace. At the same time, it gives me hope for the future knowing that there are bright people leading the world and I have the chance to be among them. -Jeffrey Chan
SSP is one of those things that you can read countless descriptions of but still not truly understand its essence until actually experiencing it. While SSP is essentially an extremely unique science camp, one of its more subtle gifts is the relationships it allows you to cultivate, with the professors, with the TAs, with your peers. The people here are some of the most unique and interesting and fantastic people I have ever met, and SSP has given me one of the most challenging, crazy, and memorable experiences of my life. -Jessica Zhao
It's difficult for me to describe the essence of SSP, for it is something so incredible in such a wide variety of ways. SSP is all about enlisting collaboration to learn, then using what we learn to collaborate at an even greater level. This then turns back into even greater learning. It's a beautiful, brilliant cycle and a great simulation of real science. -Lauren Li
SSP, while known as an academic program, is, in my opinion, only one-third academics. I have learned so much about myself and had so many great socially rich experiences that I think I will remember those more than the lectures and homework. After SSP, I feel much more empowered to do "real science" and take risks to figure out things on my own. -Cecilia Chen
The essence of the SSP is not the orbital determination, significant as it may seem (admittedly, it is quite important :)), but rather, the people. SSP could actually stand for Summer Science People, but such a statement would fall short of describing the eclectic and marvelous mix of students, TAs, teachers, and staff here. The dedication of all those currently or formerly involved with the program is truly impressive, and there is definitely a reason for such loyalty to the SSP...sleep deprivation(?) (just kidding). But I truly believe that the SSP has shown me a new multi-faceted view of science and the people who move it forward. At the end of these five weeks, one will definitely be changed by the people and the truly amazing amount of things you will have achieved by the time that the SSP is rolling to a close. Your perspective on life, if not changed, will be expanded to be inclusive of many more interesting levels. As a person, you will become more diverse...well there's that, and the thirty-five other marvelous people that you'll be friends with. Sleep deprivation, dedication, passion, excitement and wonderful people. This is the SSP. -Marianne Dang
I have never worked so hard for such a long period of time. It really showed me what I was capable of. Surprisingly the fact that I couldn't do most of my homework on my own did not discourage me but boosted my confidence, as it showed me that I can solve problems I never thought of being able to solve. -Anna Apsit
SSP is not just about the curriculum or observing under a night sky or doing homework until three am or laughing so much your sides hurt. It's not about the field trips or the ramen parties or making more friends--genuine connections-- than you thought possible. It's all of them at once, an indescribable mix and an interweaving entanglement between the heart and the brain. Simply being here is not enough. You have to give yourself completely and believe in yourself fully. You have to believe that your opinion or answer, no matter how much of a minority it might be, is just as legitimate as anyone else's. You have to believe that there are infinitely more measures of intelligence than what you get on your homework assignment or how fast you complete the programming work. You have to trust in other people-- and yes, these people will eventually become more important than the material itself because the curriculum will end and friendships will not. If you told me I could have taken all of those things and assimilated them into my personality before I started SSP, I would have been incredulous. Now, I am simply grateful. SSP forced me to come to conclusions about myself and accept who I am, no matter the social or academic situation. However, it made me realize I could dream bigger -- because why wouldn't you take on the challenge, if you had a chance of succeeding? After this amazing program, I could take on the world. -Lining Wang
The essence of SSP? Research with telescopes, sleep deprivation, homework at three in the morning, challenging lectures - there's no way to pick just one. I feel that it has changed me in that I feel I have more confidence in what I can and cannot do. -William Martin
SSP is so much more that the sum of its individual parts. It cannot be put into words. As I prepare to leave, I realize that it has changed me so profoundly that I don't even remember what I was like before it. -Rafael Musa
Summer Science Program. Sounds like a name for a remedial summer school. Perhaps a day camp for elementary schoolers at the local library. But the mundane name belies an exemplary program. SSP is a five-week utopia. I have never experienced anything like it before, and who knows if I will after. In either case, these five weeks and some change will probably end up being more consequential than most of my school years combined. For once, "school" became fun. "Peers" became friends. "Work" became learning. SSP is the metaphorical Emerald City of teenage academia, glistening in the possible future for some and a happy memory in the past for others. Rest assured, beyond those green jade gates lies a towering skyscraper of intellectual wealth, forward-looking ideals, and unparalleled social interactions far more impressive than anyone could imagine. -Christopher Goes
The experience of SSP is best compared to wholly consuming a bottle of distilled awesomeness. It is some of the best and fastest learning I have ever done with some of the most interesting and intelligent people I have ever met. The opportunity to experience the environment of SSP is rarely available to high school students. The experience was invaluable to me and has both massively changed my view of academia and greatly increased my anticipation for college. SSP is seeing for the first time who you are, what you have, and what you can do with it. And it is beautiful. -Eric Lu
When you're a child, and still learning to interact with the world, everyone always tells you to "be yourself". I always thought that "be yourself" was a stupid piece of advice, because I wondered how you could possibly be anyone other than yourself. However, at SSP, I realized that what they meant to say was: "Cultivate a serene contentment about who you are and what you are deciding to do." SSP gave me the tools and the chance to discover who I really am and what I want to do in life. The serenity that resulted, unplagued by indecision and uncertainty, is what SSP gave me. It is the greatest gift I have ever received. -Jess Rhodes
SSP is going to be an experience that you can't even imagine until you get here. Sure, there's a lot of homework, you're barely going to get any sleep, but you're going to be challenged in ways you never thought possible, meet amazing people, and make a bunch of new friends. SSP is a social experience just as much as it is academic, so throw yourself into every activity and embrace everything that is SSP. -Julia Wu
SSP is basically an experience of a life time. I learned so much about astronomy and math here, but also, I learned so much about myself. I learned what my strengths and weakness are, what my limits are, and how far I can go with little to no sleep. To me though, the social experience was the most important. I'm so glad I got to meet so many fun and interesting people. All in all, SSP was a wonderful experience and I am glad I participated in it. -Tanay Bhandarkar
The essence of SSP is the ability to be surrounded by people who are just as interesting as they are diverse. The intellectually stimulating conversations with both students and other professors really opens your mind to what science truly is about. Communication and constructive teamwork in a scientific context are the two biggest things that I have learned from SSP. SSP all around has been one of the greatest experiences of my life looking back. The friendships that have formed I am sure will last a lifetime. All the good times spent eating food at 4 in the morning, watching great movies in the computer lab, messing around with the TA's, failing to sleep at all make this program what it is. My recommendations for future students: Make things special for yourselves (create themed events such as All Nighter Saturday, etc.), Learn to work in a group (seriously), Learn to be able to work in conditions that some would describe as a rave (big glowing lights, extremely hot, loud music playing) or aka the SSP computer lab, The late night ramen parties are a blast, Be willing to experience new things, And finally enjoy this great program and make sure to get as much out of it as possible, before you know it the five-ish weeks will be over and you will be left only thinking what happened and where did the time go. -John Roethle
For me, SSP was never about the astronomy, or the physics, or the programming. SSP was a guidance point, an experience in my tumultuous high school career which I used to adjust my long-term trajectory, to learn about myself and discover what is important to me as a future scientist. -Samuel Aronson
Don't sleep; this is the place to be. SSP is not about competition; it's about collaboration. Embrace the experience to the fullest and don't regret it. SSP will be a life-changing experience; be ready to live the moment. -James Jang
How to describe SSP? Simple. Wait, no, sorry, no it's not. How can one describe SSP? Complicated? Challenging? Intellectually stimulating? Constantly pushing you to improve upon yourself? An amazing coming together of people of all nationality, creed, and ethnicity? A crucible filled with extremely bright and interesting people set to a million degrees Kelvin? ...Actually, that wasn't half bad as a summary. But SSP was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It has made me a better mathematician, programmer, physicist, astronomer, scientist, cryptologist (even though we didn't study it), and person. I will miss SSP, and all my friends, but I really think that no one will ever lose contact with all the amazing friends we've made here at SSP, not in a hundred years. Thank you SSP, for all you've given us. -John Khouri
The people at SSP are what made the experience. The professors are passionate about what they and are eager to share their passions with the students. The TAs are amazing intellectuals who have each accomplished something great since they left SSP. They were true role models. This group of students astounded me, challenged me, amused me, helped me, and changed me everyday. It is for them that I will be forever grateful to have attended SSP. -Marlyse Reeves
SSP is an amazing experience and one of the best exposures to math and science available to high school students. You will find that everyone at SSP is remarkable in some aspect. The social experience at SSP is amazing. For the first time I've been surrounded by people who share my passion for math and science. SSP has inspired me to pursue more opportunities in science next year and into college. Even though I basically found SSP by accident, I can already tell that it has been a pivotal experience for me. -Elias Rubin
SSP is all about accepting a challenge. If you're willing to work hard and complete that challenge, the reward is amazing: confidence about your capabilities, direction in life, and a slew of new friends. Sure, it's hard, but what's more fulfilling than that? -Alissa Whiting
SSP has been one of the hardest and most stimulating six weeks of my life. It was eye opening, engaging- an experience that I couldn't have found anywhere else. SSP was even more than I could have imagined. For the first time, I was able to work with peers who also had the same interests in the sciences. How has it changed me? It's changed me in more ways than I can describe. Socially, it has given me a feel for what college will be like. And academically.. it has served as the catalyst to continue pursuing my interests in the sciences. SSP was the best experience I've had. It's only reinforced my love for science, and I can't wait to see where that takes me. -Oksana Moscoso
Racing through so much- not just academic material, but socially as well, and coming out intact and with so many more connections and knowledge, is an incredible feeling. Being among such amazing peers has both humbled me yet boosted my confidence because I am here with them too. And I feel like it is only after SSP that I will fully realize what I have just lost, but also gained. -Yerin Kim
At the heart of SSP is discovery. While I learned about mindblowing scientific concepts during lecture and conducted real astronomical research while observing, I also experience self-discovery. I am now better at finding balance and am more keenly aware of my own limits. -Melinda Song
SSP is really a unique experience that can't be found anywhere else - I mean, where else can you use 24" telescopes to look at Saturn, for fun, at 2 in the morning? You are submersed into a world of knowledge and passion, surrounded by peers who are probably just as talented and motivated as you are. So be prepared! SSP has made me realize the vast world of science that lies beyond high school. Seeing all the Guest Lecturers and SSP alumni, my eyes have been opened to the nearly infinite possibilities of career paths in the sciences, and SSP has given me the passion to pursue them! Admittedly, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a future career before coming here, but now it's clear to me that I LOVE SCIENCE! I honestly can't say enough how much fun I've had here, and how much I've learned in the process. Thank you SSP for the best summer of my life! -Jonathan Joo
SSP is an incredible experience that goes by incredibly too fast. It makes you think in depth and always work your hardest. Don't waste the time given to you; it's so precious and important. Have fun, work hard, and sleep less. For me SSP showed me that I could accomplish anything if I put my mind to it. -Bria Johnson
It's wrong to say that academia is a smaller side of SSP; however, I can guarantee that the largest influence to you whilst you're here will be your classmates and the professors. You WILL make the most incredible friends out here (yes, including the professors), and will also be accepted into a selective group with your classmates. I can't iterate how SSP has changed me, but it has significantly done so, and for the better. -James Wilkinson
It's a gathering of student geniuses who are always willing to help out each other and go out of their way to do crazy fun things. Learn to take chances and work your butt off while still being able to show your not-as-smart side because everyone is willing to help each other. It has made me personally get a lot more outgoing and I will remember the people forever. -Cyndia Cao
SSP is a prime example of relating knowledge learned in the classroom to a real life problem. It also shows how important it is to be able to collaborate with team members who are strangers to you. I believe it's made me better at both of these. It teaches one to be able to work with no sleep with other sleep deprived kids. Really try and make friendships. These 5 weeks go fast even though the first few seem slow, and the bonds are super strong. -Matt Induni
SSP makes you think differently. When approaching science, you are like a scientist yourself. When you face a problem, you can solve it through careful thought. When you meet people, you can truly judge them for who they really are. Overall, SSP makes you a more professional, fun, and sciency person. -Benjamin Tong
SSP has made me truly recognise my passion for experimental science. As a student with hardly any Physics knowledge and zero experience in Astronomy and Programming, the lectures and homework were very challenging for me, but I surprised myself with my perseverance. SSP has proven to me that success comes with perseverance, tolerance and asking for help whenever I need it. Also, as an international student (this was the first time in the US for me), I discovered that the US is an amazing place to be! Now I really want to apply to US colleges because I am inspired by the amount of research and intern opportunities in US colleges. SSP has also been a platform where I could meet many people with similar interests to mine, but who are yet very different and talented in their own ways. These friendships I made here are definitely very worthy and important. -Monica Chan
SSP has made me a much better scientist. I learned things I never expected I could know and did so many great things while I was here. It will be the start of my scientific career and a great place where I met so many amazing people. -Ann Gailliot
The experience. SSP was quite probably the best 6 weeks of my life thus far. Living in a dorm with 35 intellectually and socially stimulating peers is an amazing experience, and one that I will not readily forget. -Andrés Camperi
2012 - New Mexico Campus
SSP changed some beliefs I had all my life. I thought I knew myself, what I liked and what I wanted. At SSP, I realized that I did not. I have never been more indecisive about my future. But this is the kind indecisiveness that makes me look beyond my bubble; that kind that will expand my perspective. -Sushmitha Krishnamoorthy
SSP is like, to make a very appropriate analogy, the Milky Way splashed across the night sky. In the beginning, it's vast and unknown; you don't know what to expect. You know it's going to be an intense academic experience, filled with late night homework sessions discussing the joys of physics, astronomy, and the one and only Python (don't worry, it's not venomous). You also read in the handbook that there will be some field trips to local attractions, you know that guest speakers (and SSP alums) will do presentations about their fascinating research and life work, and you're familiar with the fact that there are some organized activities for students to enjoy. What you don't know, however, is how much SSP will change your life (not to sound too cheesy). The people you meet here are 35 of the most interesting and intelligent individuals (did you catch that alliteration?) you'll meet, and by the end of the camp, they'll be your life-long friends. When we're not young and wild and free anymore, we'll happily reminisce about the extreme tubing and smores at Elephant Butte, the spontaneous swing dancing at the Fourth of July barbeque and that shooting star we saw at Etscorn that one Starry Night. Surely the academics gave everybody a healthy challenge, but the real learning came from laughing, talking, and bonding with your fellow peeps that you'll eventually rule the world with someday. -Tomer Mate-Solomon
For me, SSP was mostly about the amazing group of people that I got the chance to live with during the five and a half weeks. Every second I spent with the people there taught me different things about all sorts of things starting from social interaction skills to simply having fun in general. -Parker Won
SSP is the gathering of 36 like minded students who share a passion for science. They are extremely smart yet not nerdy; they are truly some of the coolest and most interesting people I've ever met in my life, and they certainly know how to have fun! With the help of a dedicated faculty they may or may not embark on a journey of self discovery and learning like they've never learned before. However, they will certainly enjoy the experience and remember SSP and their 35 other SSP-mates for the rest of their lives. -Jinseok Yang
For me. SSP was one drop that filled the glass of my imagination, friendship, education and responsibility. -Iustina Craciun
Asteroids, observations, telescopes, Physics, Math, Astronomy, Programming, homework, benching, swing dance, ramen parties, late-night chess, Tetris nights, sleep deprived, students, peers, good friends, memories for a life-time, summer science program... SSP. In a nutshell, SSP represents the best summer you have ever had. Challenging homework, interesting lectures, helpful teachers and TAs. All these combined with good peers, great teammates, helpful and intelligent students, and most important... friends you will keep in touch with for the rest of your life. After SSP I can say I have discovered things about myself, things that I wouldn't have expected. I have learnt to surpass my limits. I have learnt that, even when I thought I couldn't do it anymore, I could still find energy, some resources to continue. I have learned to know when it is a good moment to procrastinate… and when it is not. SSP taught me to help and be helped. Overall, SSP taught me how to take responsibility on my actions and to better decide on my future. -Tiberiu Puican
I came into SSP with a newfound interest in astronomy, and I came out with an even greater passion for it. Being able to actually use a telescope to observe and subsequently calculate the orbit of our asteroid was definitely the highlight of the program. Furthermore, the atmosphere at SSP is friendly and conducive to learning. It was great being with people that were ALL smart, and I feel that this type of atmosphere was perfect for me. It also opened me up a little bit, made me a little more sociable. I guess people have a lot more in common when they're all up there on the intelligence scale. All in all..SSP was just an amazing program and I'm thrilled to have attended. I've learned a lot and made many friends. I'll definitely keep in the loop with the SSP community. -Bryan Brzycki
SSP has been the most amazing experience of my life. It's a place where you learn more from each other than from lectures. It's a place where you learn what it feels like to be average. It's a place where you realize just how much you can fit into one day - 6 hours of lecture, swing dancing, a couple of hours debugging code, ultimate frisbee, just having fun with everyone else, and a lot more in a day! There isn't any one word to describe SSP. SSP is a unique experience that I'll remember forever. -Roohi Dalal
SSP is the best and most fufilling experience anyone could ever have. It launches you into the amazing world of real academics. -Carolina Pena
It's given me a feeling of how college will be like. It has shown me that there are many people out there, my age, that are just as smart as me, if not smarter. I have also had the privilege of being challenged and working with other peers that are also passionate about science. -Andres Perez
SSP taught me to enjoy my life from both working and playing. The social life is as enriching as the academic life in SSP. -Xiaote Zhu
SSP is a convergence of some of the most brilliant, most creative minds of our generation. I've learned nearly as much from my peers as I have from class, and made friends I never want to lose contact with. -Crystal Cockerill
SSP is about meeting people similar to you who share a passion for science. I would say that SSP has changed me primarily by making me more social. -Arthur Tsang
If you love what you do and have others around who do the same, your life will never have a dull moment. SSP showed me this and I'll never forget it. -Georgia Smits
SSP is absolutely magical - I entered as a very well-honed and focused academic machine, spent nearly six weeks running around in the bizarre but wonderful town of Socorro and programming until two in the morning, and left driven to become a bold scholar and opened up to all of the opportunities involved in being a scientist. The time I spent observing on the telescope made something click inside me, and I realized how much I want to do research in the sciences and how much I enjoy astronomy. -Meg Panetta
The essence of SSP is impossible to put into words. However, I saw it when we tackled problem sets with enthusiasm, only to be stumped by the second or third problem. I heard it when kids sleeping at 1AM were "turning in early." Lastly, I felt it when we all sat around talking about anything and everything. Of course I was pushed to the limit and then some with lectures and work, and because of that I saw again how much fun learning can be. SSP made me realize what I might want to study and how much I would enjoy it. However, above all of this was the combination of both my friends and the work that made SSP truly unforgettable. Saying that a program changed your life forever may sound cheesy coming from a teenager, but that is exactly what SSP did and I'll carry the science I learned and the friends I gained for the rest of my life. -Hunter Dong
SSP has the capability of showing you who you really are: what you like, what you don't like, what you want to do in life, who you want to be friends with, and so much more. Simply put, SSP is a life-changing experience. -Bernardo Da Silva
A collaborative yet challenging environment unlike any other experience I've had to date. -Descartes Holland
SSPers! They showed me the real passion for interesting things! -Shiyue Li
SSP was a revolutionary and life-changing experience. Without realizing, I learned so many things academically and socially. It showed me what kind of person and scholar I need to be, and taught me the strength of peer cooperation that I was never exposed to before. It also showed me the limit that I need to conquer to become a better scholar and presented 35 bright peer students I can relate to. It has been one of the best times of my life!!! -GiHun Choi
"When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change." Nowhere does this quote ring more true than at SSP. The academics are rigorous beyond belief, and the workload at times seems overwhelming - there are moments in which you are about to give in to utter despair. It is in those moments, that you realize who you really are, and it is also in those moments that you adapt, change - evolve. SSP isn't just a place for learning - it's a place for maturing, both mentally and socially (and physically - who knew swing dancing would be like a workout?). Overall, SSP is the ultimate threshold crossing. And the best part is, there are thirty-five other people - wonderful, amazing people - who are there to accompany you along the way. -Katherine Xiu
SSP is defined, not by the curriculum, the Orbit Determination, or the professors, but by the students. It never mattered what new topic was introduced in lecture that boggled my mind and had me more lost than i've ever felt; I always had an SSP peer sitting next to me explaining the Calculus, Programming, and Astronomy that I had never seen before in my life. I had never felt dumber during the program, but I have also never felt smarter when all of it clicked. I was never more proud of myself as I was explaining problem set questions after being unable to decipher the question itself. SSP changed my life; it helped me realize how unintelligent I was and how intelligent I am capable of becoming. Not only was it a humbling experience, but it was an eye-opening experience that I will never forget. It created friendships that I hope I never lose; the friends I made at SSP are like no other people I can ever expect society to introduce me to. The smartest, most helpful, most supportive, and most fun group of people I can ever expect to meet were here at SSP, and for that, I am forever thankful for the opportunity I experienced this past summer. -Anthony Gagliardi
SSP was the best "summer camp" I have ever attended. The academics are always challenging, and the people there are some of the most unique, friendly, and simply awesome people you will ever meet. -Saahil Mehta
SSP provided a rich academic environment that allowed me to explore my own intellectual capabilities and learn more about who I am and what I want to pursue in the future. SSP is more than just physics and astronomy, however; it is the joining of 36 brilliant minds, frolicking through the desert, studying more, sleeping less, and generally having the time of their young lives. I have created bonds that I know will last a lifetime. I cannot say one bad thing about SSP; they were some of the best 5 weeks of my life. I hope that every young scientist out there applies to this excellent program and gets to have the same life-changing experience. One day, when we look back at SSP 2012 at Socorro, and we need two hands to count the Nobel Prize winners, we will remember the amazing times we had tearing our hair out over astronomy, playing basketball and frisbee, having Tetris battles in the lab, and getting 0 hours of sleep. SSP is an experience I will never forget. -Calvin Rhodes
SSP is a place of discovery...Sure, you fill your brain with physics, track an asteroid, write an insane computer program...the whole bit. But I found that the most important aspect to me was finding myself. I learned who I am, and who I am not. I know now who I hope to be, and who I hope to never become. And of course, I made friends that have changed my life, and that I hope will continue to do so :) -Andrea Smith
SSP is a wonderful program. You learn to work and play, and to get along with each other. SSP offers some of the most challenging times and also some of the most enjoyable times. It teaches you very valuable lessons. For example: sleep is overrated. -Drew Esquivel
2011 - California Campus
Upon acceptance, you think SSP is a camp. Upon arrival, you realize it's a community. Upon completion, you realize it's a family. SSP has not only accelerated my growth as a scientist but also given me a group of incomparable friends. Live in the moment and laugh with everyone because 5 weeks is so transient-that is the essence of SSP. -Ming Zhao
It takes an extraordinary program to study out-of-this-world celestial objects. SSP is not just any simple science camp - it has a fifty-two year old history, a team of dedicated faculty members and alumni, and an orbit determination project that has withstood the tests of time. These weeks at SSP have changed us - for better or for worse. We're no longer just a collection of nerds or geeks thrown together and asked to get along - we are now a formidable team who knows how to work together to achieve a common goal. These past weeks have made us more confident about both our own abilities, and our ability to work as a team. But perhaps the most important lesson that I've learned is: if you don't succeed try and try again. Because everyone is bound to fail at one time or another. So, just pick yourself up, dust off the dirt and continue on. As long as you don't just sit there, everything will be fine. The answer is just around the corner. -Milly (KeQi) Wang
My love for SSP has for weeks approached an asymptote. I can't define it! -Leyatt Betre
SSP is weeks of intense physics, math, programming, and astronomy-but it is so much more than its academics. It's an experience in sleep deprivation and pushing yourself to your limits, while interacting with 35 incredible, interesting people just like you. More than anything, these weeks have made me a happier person, thanks to everyone I met and everything I did here. -Aneesa Sonawalla
SSP is like holding infinity in the palm of your hand, like keeping an inexhaustible amount of memories and happiness close to you. -Stephany Rhee
SSP has introduced me to amazing people from around the globe and gave me a taste of what real research entails. The social experience also provided a glimpse of college social life, and helped me prioritize my interests for college. Life doesn't give second chances. SSP does. -Virup Gubba
SSP has forced me to look at myself in a new light. I have never been so challenged before, and it is hard to believe that I might have a similar experience in the future. The first week, Dr. Faison told us that statistically speaking, half of us were in the bottom half, and it was true. SSP takes the smartest kids, the kids who breeze through every subject, the kids who are bored to death in school and give them a taste of what they can accomplish. I never knew that I could work this hard, or burn out. SSP is exhilarating for every person involved, and lets each student recognize their full potential and beyond. -Jasmine Mithani
SSP is an experience far above any high-school experience in terms of the challenging academic demands and the best social experience I have had in my life. -Patrick Rall
SSP is all about finding ways to manage time and get work done and socialize while under a tremendous amount of intellectual stress. While at SSP, I learned to accept that I may not always be able to achieve 90-100%, and that this is okay. I learned to work with others efficiently and also socialize with others outside of the classroom. I learned to be honest with myself and be honest with the work I hand in. I learned to take cat naps throughout the day so I could stay awake during lecture and have energy in the evening for socializing. I learned to get outside my comfort zone by talking to people I would not normally have spoken to and by trying things like swing dancing I would not normally have tried. I learned to stay optimistic and maintain a positive attitude, for it rubs off on others and helps everyone get by and enjoy themselves a little more. And I learned to enjoy the precious few weeks I had here in an intellectually and socially stimulating environment, and to remember this program for the rest of my days. -Marisa Millenson
SSP is a mentally challenging and a quite indescribably physically demanding experience that goads the deepest fathoms of your mind in order to stimulate academic interest and social aptitude. One would believe that with little sleep, not much of the experience would commit to longer term memory. We all here will indubitably accept that challenge since we all obtained and possess a lifetime of stories that will beg to differ. -Kennedy Agwamba
SSP showed me that I am dumb enough to think I can succeed and smart enough to actually succeed. -Jane Balkoski
The core of SSP is not observing, not learned materials, but of the students and faculty. It is they who make observing fun, who make lectures interesting, who make the material enjoyable. Yes, SSP has helped me decide about my future and helped me determine what I am interested in, but I feel that the people have had far more profound an impact on me. From midnight walks and just simply living in such close contact, I have become exposed to the lofty thoughts and noble ideals of so many peers. Like a moon that brightens the dark and cloudy night, the people here have opened my eyes and exposed me to so much more than I ever thought possible in such a short time. -Ellen Zhou
Summer Science Program is an unparalleled experience. Not only does it have academic caliber, but it also demonstrates a social sphere like no other. Meeting students, alumni, and others here at SSP with the same interests as me was certainly unique and more importantly unforgettable. Undoubtedly, my perspective has changed so much over the course of the program. In fact, it is as though within weeks, I have experienced more than a decade of new and fascinating things. It is a fast adventure full of opportunities to learn and be amazed by things I had never imagined to come across on my own. This program has impacted the way I learn and understand the world around me, the way I interact with my peers in a day to day life, and the way I balance my lifestyle with fun and work. SSP is an invaluable opportunity that words come short of describing; one truly has to experience it to fully understand. -Pratheek Nagaraj
SSP showed me what it is like to be given an impossible task and then to complete it. -Carsten Peterson
The essence of SSP is to spend 5 wonderful weeks with a fantastic set of peers with which one can grow strong friendships and connect more than ever before. Oh, and learning a year's worth of programming too. -Eric Gorlin
SSP provides a fast-paced academic environment that is cooperative, investigative, stimulating and intellectually challenging. It accelerates students' academic and personal development by broadening their perspectives of life and by instilling self-confidence in their abilities. Austere teachers at SSP ensure that students' potentials are fully exploited. The interaction with world-class scientists and listening to their talks enlighten you further. SSP has played a pivotal role in shaping my dreams and aspirations. It offers a unique opportunity to experience rigorous and college-level coursework by combining sophisticated theory with hands-on practical experience hence not only giving a head start to college courses but also sparking an interest in fields such as engineering and programming. SSP gives me the opportunity to fully explore many of the ideas that you had only touched the surface of. Developing these ideas, combined with challenging, interesting and rewarding qualities that investigative science possesses and interaction with the best minds from all over the globe from different backgrounds and learning from their experience makes SSP a thrilling experience. -Ahsan Mehmood
SSP is essentially a friendly and collaborative college-like environment. You work with others on problem sets instead of competing to see who comes out on top; you learn about subjects you hardly knew about and may have trouble keeping up with; and finally, you have an intelligent and interesting student body who have plenty of stories to share. In a sense, SSP has made me feel more confident about my abilities as a scientist, programmer, and mathematician. The sheer amount of material we've learned in class has made me realize my potential to quickly pick up topics and tie them together. Furthermore, the students and TAs have definitely impacted my decision on where to go to college and what I want to study. For the first time in my life, particle physics - which is only somewhat related to astronomy but is a common interest among SSPers - is within the realm of possibility. Finally, I've learned my physical limits and have a better idea of how to budget my social time, academic time, and sleep. This will no doubt come in handy as I head off to university which, I hope, will involve a similar experience. As I head back into my everyday, diurnally-active life, obstacles like schoolwork and balancing extracurriculars aren't as daunting as they used to be. Indeed - while astrophysics, programming, and math have been very exciting - this ability to cope is one of the most important lessons I have learned at SSP. -Laksh Bhasin
SSP is like being stranded on a desert island waiting for a ship to come and rescue you. The ship finally arrives and the crew of the ship which saves you is composed of all the other students at SSP! -Sourabh Rao
It has taught me that there is a world of knowledge out there and I can't wait to acquire it. -Bridget Neal
SSP has truly been one of the best experiences of my life because I was actually challenged for the first time. I've learned a lot - about math and physics, but also about myself - and I would like to believe that I have grown as a person. -Jahnavi Kalpathy
Evolution. This weeks have made me learn plenty of things about life and about myself. The academic side of the campus has been really challenging and enjoyable, nevertheless the most important impact SSP has caused on me is the social and life experience, which has taken me one step forward towards the actual knowledge. -Mireia Ibanez Cid
The essence of SSP is work and secret fun. A lot of material will be forced into you, and a lot of homework will be assigned. The computer lab will become your home for the weeks. But while you are working on those problem sets, make sure you take breaks and have some secret fun before returning to work. -Katy Pan
SSP has been an amazing academic and social experience for me. Through the vigorous curriculum, I learned so much about astronomy, physics, programming, and math in a short period of 5 weeks. However, the academics alone would not accurately depict the SSP environment. Creating a network of lifelong friends is a quality that SSP fosters. I will certainly stay in touch with many SSPers. SSP also reinforces my interest in math and science. -Phong Vo
SSP is all about working hard and playing harder. -Linna Meng
SSP is an opportunity for people to spend 5 weeks working hard at learning the things they really love learning. In those 5 weeks you make amazing friends with whom you wish you could spend much more time. SSP has confirmed in my mind that I want to spend the rest of my life studying physics. It has also helped me realize just how fantastic every single person around me is. -Samuel Holo
The essence of SSP is the lack of grades. It has taught me that I don't have to be stressed to be motivated and work hard. -Billy Cox
The essence of SSP is the application of theory to practical problems. -David Ding
SSP is amazing...just don't spend all your time in the computer lab sitting alone at a computer and you'll make friends that you would have never expected to make. Don't be afraid to try new things (work with the programming and don't give up). Don't get behind on work, as you'll never catch up. Bring insect repellent as bug bites are not very pleasant and will annoy you for the next couple of days. Most of all, be yourself and have fun with the program. -Jason Liu
The personal growths that occurred during my time at the Summer Science Program cannot be adequately explained, only relived through experience. -Anelisse Peterson
At SSP you truly discover yourself; you begin to understand who you are as a person and what you would like to be. -Pathik Shah
SSP was like a huge teapot. After 5 weeks of being steeped in boiling water, intellectually challenged, and not sleeping very much; I've emerged sopping wet, shivering - but ready to take on the future. -Angela Zhou
SSP was the first true test of my focus and drive. It taught me how hard I could really work if I wanted to. -Marissa Stephens
SSP is an amazing experience, but it isn't overwhelmingly breathtaking. It's the subtleties throughout the program, the little things, that really make it shine and worth remembering every moment. -Ling Gu
SSP was the experience of a lifetime, just as the motto says. SSP increased my love of learning and my willingness to learn new material. -Lawrence Li
It has made me understand what it means to be into science today; everything from the hard work to computer programming. -Jeremy Hyde
SSP is splendid, simply put. -Bowen Lu
2011 - New Mexico Campus
The essence of SSP is the act of overcoming one's limits: to collaborate with and seek help from others without fear of appearing less intelligent; to rely upon and trust in one's team without infringing upon one's own personal pride; to befriend others and truly be oneself without insecurity about one's image. These abilities, undervalued in high school education, and crucial not only to science, but to every discipline, I have only encountered in so pure a form at SSP. -Lucian Wang
You learn that you aren't as smart as you thought you were. And then you learn to collaborate with people. Me, getting tutoring in the homework from my friends? Never happened before. But it's completely worth it, because you learn how to work with other people on problems that are too big for you alone. And that will make you a better scientist, or mathematician, or engineer, or businessperson, or whatever. It will make you a better person. -Kaylee Brent
The gem at SSP's core is the people you will meet - students, guest speakers, and TAs alike. The learning is fast and exciting, but the people have a *truly* profound impact. They are open. Open to the possibility that anything and anyone (especially at SSP) might impact their perspective or their life in an immeasurable way. They are innovative. They dream big. They are passionate. Absorb the fantasticness that permeates this bunch and watch the world change colors before your eyes. -Priya Kalluri
More than the lectures, more than the guest speakers, even more than our field trips, the people at SSP are the most important piece. Our teachers showed me that scientists can be ordinary (though incredibly intelligent) people. The students themselves have been a great motivation. Some know incomprehensibly large amounts of information, and others are incredibly clever. They've kicked me out of complacency. -Mohan Yin
SSP reminded me that life truly is the love of my life. Each student helped me discover so many passions that I didn't even think about before and now, all our memories bring happiness back to life even if SSP is ending. I am really grateful to have met all these extraordinary people that became great friends that I will never forget! -Andreea Bobu
I have never been in such a wonderful group of people. At SSP we can make obscure nerdy jokes about relativity, and everyone laughs! You can say "Calculus is so much fun!" without people looking at you like you're crazy. SSPers collaborate instead of compete. There is always someone willing to help if you don't understand something. And the peer group is very well-rounded to encompass art, dance, pranks, and games (like epic ninja), while being the highest-quality, intellectually-stimulating peer group I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. We have conversations about absolutely anything from parallel dimensions and weather it is possible to reconcile belief in them with religious beliefs, to the color of carrots in different countries! I hope to be able to study and work in an environment like SSP and in the company of such wonderful people for the rest of my life. SSP has helped me become a more outgoing person with a broader understanding of the world, as well as refine the ideas of where I want to go to college and what I want to do in my life. SSP is the best experience a person can have. -Kallan Berglund
SSP proved to me that academic and social life are not separate things but in fact there is wonderful interaction between them. I learned to respect all opinions and cultures and not to judge people according to first impressions. Moreover I feel much more confident about myself both academically (as I survived the intense program!) and socially (as I made so many friends in such a short time). -Dimitra Pefkou
SSP is unlike any other academic and social experience I've ever had, in that it allowed me to spend nearly every waking moment for weeks with some of the most brilliant kids in the entire world. Also, I believe that SSP has made me more willing to challenge myself intellectually, by showing me how gratifying such challenges can be. SSP is the perfect balance of academic rigor and social interaction, and I will never forget my experience here at the NM Tech campus of SSP. -Connie Wang
SSP is the first time that I was surrounded, for the most part, by people like me. Everyone has their strange traits that make them interesting on many different levels. Learning at SSP is not like high school at all. Here, everyone helps each other. When someone is having trouble, there is always someone willing to help. All participants at SSP have roughly the same goal and want to see everyone succeed together. -Anthony Mark
It has shown me where I really stand in the world. Growing up in a state where expectations are quite low, I have been pushed by SSP because its expectations were so high. -Chiann-Ling Yeh
SSP is like a roller coaster ride with its ups and downs but the only thing you can do is hang on and enjoy the ride. Whether or not you enjoy the six hour lectures, the formal dinners, the random swing dancing, or any other exotic activity served onto your plate, you should always remember the 35 other students from around the world. For me, it was these 35 students that made every moment enjoyable; it was these students that made me savor the pranks, the field trips, the meals, the lectures, and the painstaking efforts at abstruse astronomy sets, impossible programming assignments, and weird quantum physics problems. While I may have made huge strides academically, the one thing that has changed me during SSP is not the intellectual challenge that has been pushed in front of me throughout the last weeks but the eccentric and ebullient group of people I have shared the entire experience with. This eclectic group of people is what I will remember in later years. In fact, it's said that, "one who finds a good friend, finds treasure". If this statement were true, I can truly say that here at SSP - I think I won the jackpot. -Kevin Wu
SSP is like an ice cream cone with a ton of different flavors mixed into it. The vanilla is the challenge of the work, the chocolate the forging of new friendships with amazing people. Those two are obvious. Yet, you can sense other flavors as well. A hint of mint, accompanying the feeling of wonder as you stare at the night sky, both through a telescope and while lying on the ground with friends way past a sensible hour. Caramel as you twist your dance partner round and around at swing dancing or as you get thrown around and around while tubing at Elephant Butte. A sour note as you bash your head against the same debugging error for the 17th time and a sweet resolve as a friend comes over and helps you work it out. There are many other flavors that accompany every moment here. Each one hits a different note on the palate, and almost all our delicious. Together they form this singular, unique ice cream cone, and after having a scope for myself, I can say that it has satisfied so many hungers of mine- socially, academically, and beyond. -Will Connors
This year I had the chance of doing the yearbook, and with the students Keertan Kini, we made a brief introduction that I really want to share: "How to describe the Summer Science Program? SSP is the experience where you haven't even stepped out of the airplane, and you already have an astronomy homework due the next day; where you're going to spend endless nights trying to debug your code, then realize that your debugging actually added more bugs; where the last thing that you're going to do is sleep…. However, SSP is also the place when you meet people from all over the world that are both just like you and nothing like you; where in only three hours of lecture, you discover a whole new world-or multiple parallel universes at least; where despite, or perhaps because of, the pranks, the songs, and the plain crazy atmosphere of which you had never conceived, nothing surprises you...Most of all, SSP is an unforgettable experience, filled with joy, knowledge and a myriad of friends that you'll keep for the rest of your life." -Maria Camila Remolina Gutierrez
SSP is a workload which looks like a floor-to-ceiling pile of papers. After weeks, eventually all thirty-six kids who started at the bottom of the pile of papers have scrambled to the top. On top, they play guitar and sing. They play soccer and ultimate frisbee. They prank the TAs. They talk. And then they all go off back to their corners of the world to start chasing dreams that, for some, were aroused by SSP. -Alanna Tempest
SSP is where students from around the world come to learn not just lessons in acadamia, but lessons in life as well. -Jorrie Brettin
The essence of SSP is one of those intangibles that few teenagers ever get to experience. In this regard, it is difficult to summarize my experience here short of saying this: SSP is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Not only has it expanded my vision looking forward, it has shown me how to collaborate with others - be it scientifically or not - and provided me with a glimpse of the professional world down the road. Thanks SSP! -Zach Atkins
SSP is an amazing experience that can be compared to nothing else. Here you are with a group of peers that understand you like no one else. You bond over homework, observations, sports or even dinner. You can talk about everything under the sun. You'd be surprised what can come up in a conversation here. Everything from quizbowl, to baseball, to broadway shows; you never run out of things to talk about. But it's not all fun and games; I've honestly worked harder here than I have in my entire schooling career and have learned more than I could have ever imagined. SSP has shown me the importance of cooperation and group work and that it's okay to ask for help sometimes. I have truly learned how to work up to my full potential. I have made friends that will last a lifetime and gained knowledge and experience that will guide me not only throughout college but throughout life. I will never forget my experience at SSP. -Isabella Sanders
The essence of SSP is bringing bright students from around the world and forcing them to learn and play together. It is exposure to different points of view and connecting people after they leave. SSP has opened my eyes to the type of people I always knew were out there-intelligent, driven, and absolutely crazy; now at least, I can put faces to the qualities. -Keertan Kini
I have never been sure about working in a pure research/academic environment, and SSP agrees with that. However, even under the intense workload, I decided that I still like science, and I guess I'll figure out what to do. I was glad to see that the people here are so interesting and diverse, and am really excited to interact more with the friends I made here in the future. -Sissi Wang
The essence of SSP are the people you are going to meet here. I feel that their influence is going to be a lot more lasting than any specific topic i learned about. -Alexandros Christodoulou
SSP is an experience unlike any other. Its ability to be both academically rich and more than socially fulfilling is unparalleled. -Drew Schmitt
SSP is an intense experience which provides academic challeges and social opportunities. I haveve learned so much from this program while making many new friends. -Kristin Eliason
SSP means you are not as smart or important as you thought you would be. -Duy Anh Doan
SSP is a close group of 36 smart individuals working together, learning, and becoming better. It is a truly unique experience at college-life, research, and teamwork. -Kushal Agarwal
We have an obligation to our planet. To act with care, bravery, and intelligence. And our generation is most important to our survival. We face so many problems. But we have so many answers. We must embrace out duty. Fulfill our obligations. Overcome the problems. Become what we were meant to be! -Ajit Vakharia
People take what they want to take out of SSP. Those who come here for academic enrichment will find it easily. Those who come for the social experience will find no end of opportunities to satisfy that goal. Whether you come here to get away from home or just to try something different; whether you're sampling the freedom of college life or simply trying to make your college applications more competitive, SSP will return the desired output. That's why it's so important to come here with an open mind. If you're ready for it, you can get so much out of this experience. -Laura Breiman
Forging friendships in the fires of challenging homework, panicked midnight programming cram sessions and pure unadulterated fun. -Renee Sima
The essence of SSP is about pushing the students to their limits and let them realize how much potential they really have when they are willing to challenge themselves and work hard -Edric Tam
SSP is challenging, exciting, overwhelming, and fun all at the same time... in essence, one wild ride. It has made me realize that science is not easy, but fulfilling. That there are other intelligent people like me out there. And that I should really be excited for college next year. -Imani Bunn
SSP has allowed me to be completely sure of what I want to do with my life now. I already had a slight idea of what I wanted to do with it, but SSP has completely solidified it. SSP was also a great introduction to programming since we were just sort of tossed into it, but sometimes that is the best way to learn. By having this very advanced introduction to programming, I have been inspired to learn more about it since I feel that the only reason that i felt so "drowned" by it (for lack of a better word) was because I did not have the basic foundation of programming. -Gregory Tobar
SSP has solidified my interest in studying physics or mathematics in the future. -Duligur Ibeling
The essence of SSP is like zero fat, zero sugar whipped cream. I don't know how both of them can be so deliciously enjoyable and still provide healthy nutrition for your body and intelllect at the same time. -Deger Turan
SSP is a blend of social openness and intellectual satisfaction. Its essence lies in its willingness to look at any problem, any solution, any issue, academic or not, and to tackle it head on. -Indira Puri
SSP is academically rigorous, but the true essence of SSP is the people there. Not only do they come from around the world with different cultures, but they are not only academically gifted, but also socially. For me, SSP helped me with time management, especially since it is a tug-o-war between the academics and social time. -Travis Le
SSP is awesome! Everyone here is super smart and helpful. This kind of friendship is great treasure for everyone. What is more, you have great opportunity to get to know real science and be better prepared for college and career. No reason to miss it. -Tianshu Zhu
SSP is a safe place for students to express and pursue their passion for math and science. A true oasis for mathematicians and scientists! -Ariel O'Neill
2010 - California Campus
You will meet some of the most amazing people from all over the country, from all over the world who have numerous experiences to share. You will have fun staying up until the sun comes out, working on homework (What? Homework and sleep deprivation fun?). Your head will be filled with so much information and it will start leaking out of your mouth. Luckily, there are so many people that are as eager to share their experiences as they are to hear yours. You will discover so many things about yourself and the cosmos. And have a lot of fun in the process. Whoever knew nerds can have a life? -Veronica Rico
SSP is like dining in the Garden of Eden: the amount of knowledge you accumulate during SSP is only limited by your own imagination and hunger. You have professors and teaching assistants and guest lecturers who conjure new topics and summon challenging problems. When you're surrounded by many other students of similar voraciousness, the collective rush to the tree of forbidden fruit is staggering. And it is precisely this collective drive to learn more, to understand more, that makes SSP the greenhouse of intellectual maturation it has been for these 52 years. -Jeffrey Sperling
SSP is awesome!! SSP is a great experience, and here I realize how important is to communicate with the others! The people here are great. (I love you, guys.) In the first second I finished the OD, I realized that the program is almost done and how much I will miss everyone. Here the time passes so fast, that you really have to enjoy every second. The most important thing is to be open (no shyness allowed). BE who you want the people around you to be. Be you, and everything will be great! -Ioana Plesca
SSP is the bringing together of the brightest and most promising group of young adults I have ever met, who all also seem to have the curious ability to be able to do anything and everything under the sun and to do it better than everyone else. And yet it is a collaborative environment and not a competitive one, an environment in which you can reach your full potential with thirty three of your best friends by your side (and sometimes above you, helping you up.) And we work really hard, but we manage to play really hard too. I've grown so much here, not only intellectually but emotionally (and physically!) as well. The experience will be with me forever. -Olivia Pham
Definitely, I learned (once more) that whoever separates academic and social life makes a big mistake. SSP was the best place for me to experience this... and many other things I've never tried before. Live long and prosper! -Tudor Giurgica-Tiron
Although you go to SSP expecting to determine the orbit of an asteroid, that is only a small part of it. At SSP, you meet the most amazing people and you can really be yourself, as you bond over the sleepless nights and impossible homework. I really do have 33 new best friends. -Elena Wolner
SSP changes completely your way to understand everything. The project of SSP seems impossible before coming, SSP makes you realize that if you work hard, everything is possible. -Raimon Luna
SSP is very fun and at the same time you learn SO much. I know now what my interests are. You actually get a lot of freedom, there just isn't much to do with it. Having random dance parties are great. Don't be afraid to be the odd ball in the group ^_^ Staying awake for 30 hours is not that bad. I am reassured that I want to study something in the fields of math and/or science. -Crystal Olalde
The essence of SSP is to challenge yourself and stretch yourself the ultimate way. The most surprising aspect is that I made a group of friend that have multiple things in common with me but at the same time are extremely different with different hobbies and experiences. It changed me dramatically. Now I know what i want to do and its not just a hint. I had a realization on my career choice and the social environment that I would like to live. -Sabrina Gutierrez
The essence of SSP is not the orbit determination itself. It is being challenged and pushed to your limit. It is a lot more fun than you would expect, and being with people like me made me want to pursue similar subjects in college. You learn so much about yourself, academically and socially. -Joyce Shi
SSP is staying up until 6 in the morning because the 6th decimal place in the results of our OD program is different from the sample results. SSP is everyone caring about math and science, everyone helping each other and working together. SSP is the good elements from college and high school, put together. It's a transformative experience that gives you a whole new outlook on your future. -Ariel Camperi
The essence of SSP is no other than the essence of true science itself. SSP is the ultimate and the best combination of life and science that one high school student can experience in his/her school years. -Alpkaan Celik
SSP has given us six weeks of memory and intimacy that years of acquaintance would not be able to compare with; there is an instinctive kinship and bonding of the most intellectual sort. There is a distinctive pride and openness in being blatantly "nerdy"; you will find this and identify in this with all who have taken SSP before you. We all love this program in a very distinct and identical way. Best of Luck. Do. Not. Back. Out. -Linda Xu
SSP takes students from around the world who are at the top of their classes and does to them what no school can do.... It challenges them to use their full potential. -Paul Harris
SSP is a crazy six weeks of fun, hard work, no sleep, and surprisingly close friendships. It definitely made me more aware of the variety of other people from a ton of different places and taught me how to think more independently. -Jenni Walsh
SSP broadened my narrow perspective on life by introducing me to so many amazing, smart people, and a breadth of new topics that I never knew existed. -Tara Jain
Bonding with other nerds...how interesting people the TAs are...I realized I do not really mind staying up late doing homework if I am not alone. -Michael Kelessoglou
The most surprising thing about SSP to me was the people. They all exceeded my expectations in terms of how social everyone was. -Rohit Ramanathan
SSP is a great experience academically and socially. I was surprised at how normal the people are. The people are really smart and socially well-off. SSP has motivated me to work in groups more because working with a group is much more fun than working alone. -Nat Hendel
Some people are real people, they know who they are and are themselves. They strive for improvement. They challenge themselves. They are not a product of 'what should be' or the 'popular crowd'. SSPers are real people. -Sara Falcone
The OD is certainly an important part of SSP, from the hours at the telescope to the time in the classroom and in the computer lab. But ultimately, the most valuable part is the interactions with faculty, students, and TAs. I have met a fabulous group of people who share my interests. I knew I would encounter this, but not to the degree that I did. I am even more excited for college, and cannot wait to see some of my fellow SSP alumni there. -Hannah Klion
For me, science has always been a class. Of course we had some lab work, but nothing that showed how science was done. Coming to SSP I experienced the scientific process and now I think I understand what it is like to be a scientist from experience and discussions with guest lecturers. -Ari Vogel
Academically, SSP is very challenging and enjoyable. I was surprised to realize how much I delight in astronomy, and how much I hate grunge work. It has changed me because now I know that I don't really need very much sleep to function, though it definitely helps to be well rested! -Natasha Zella
I am perpetually grateful to SSP for giving me the opportunity to explore myself and to learn what my strengths and weaknesses are. Six weeks of living, learning, and trying to stay awake with 33 amazing people is something you can experience only at SSP. -Aleena Patel
Living in a social and collaborative scientific environment for six weeks. I had an incredible amount of fun. I'm significantly more outgoing and more prepared for my time in college. -Michael Xu
I always imagined I'd love college, and SSP proved it. The way of living and interacting with people here is so exactly the way I've always wanted to do it, that I'm scared what will happen when I leave. I met people that had exactly the same interests as me, and people that were exactly the opposite of me that I still became good friends with. And the overall theme of "science camp" was all that was needed to make it infinitely more interesting to me, so that I WOULD go out of my way to meet new people, because I felt so comfortable in the environment. -Nicholas Induni
At SSP, we had our ups and down, but at the end of the day, we were all part of something special: the SSP family. -Vivian Wang
SSP is a unique experience, both academically and socially; it was an environment where everyone was motivated. I learned faster than I ever thought I could. More importantly, I became friends with many people that shared common interests and are positive influences in my life. -Brian Lei
SSP is centered around the experience of working with other students in a non-competitive environment. I was surprised at the personalities and willingness to help others inherent in all the students here. Instead of fighting to get the highest grade, students are self motivated to learn, and will spend their time teaching others what they have learned. SSP has made me realize that this environment is most inducive to growth, and that working with people that share your passion and drive is more important than how smart they are. -Vishnu Sundaresan
The most valuable thing about SSP is not the advanced education it provides. It's the entire learning environment and the interaction with wonderful people that makes the program such a success. -Jianan Huang
The essence of SSP is the people here. They are all exactly like you and completely different, and it really gave me a new perspective on life. -Lucas Pena
2010 - New Mexico Campus
SSP gave me the opportunity to apply multiple fields of study to a single problem and appreciate how mathematics, physics, astronomy, programming, and data analysis work together in application. It was a stimulating environment with enthusiastic professors and peers that I could both relate to and respect. I believe I came away more mature, more aware, and more confident as an individual. I am proud and grateful to have joined the SSP network. -Reilly Raab
SSP's a great place to spend a summer interacting with intellectuals from all over the world with interesting backgrounds and varied hobbies and passions. This might sound cheesy, but it gave me a whole new perspective of myself, as I was radically different here than I usually am at school. It lets you escape the high school environment and discover who you want to be. -Neil Satra
SSP is learning that nerdy people can still have fun. -Sophia Li
The essence of SSP is meeting with other people who are so alike but at the same time so unlike you and forging friendships that last the lifetime. Don't worry about the academic aspect you will have an able peer group to help you. And don't forget to enjoy!!!!! -Kaushik Tiwari Tiwari
The essence of SSP, in my opinion, is not to sate curiosity but rather to hunger it. SSP taught me how rewarding it is to seek out an answer and simply find more questions. If I had a philosophy for life, I would summarize it in two words: ask questions. -Ian Choi
SSP has made me realize that I love stress; that I need to be challenged academically and surround myself with intelligent, quirky people to be content. -Rochelle Silverman
SSP is more than a summer camp, more than just a summer science program. It's one of the best times of your life. There is so much more to it than just the academic aspects. -Akash Umakantha
The bond that forms between SSP students is so rare and unique because it's an experience filled with everything from working together through late nights, to discovering amazing similarities with someone from a different continent, and even playing hilarious bus games on long field trips . An opportunity like this to be exposed to a great group of special people from all different walks of life is rare and incredibly valuable. The interactions and moments that I've shared with my peers have been, without a doubt, influential also in my personal growth as young adult. Who says you need to go backpacking in Europe to soul search? -Tina Wang
SSP is one of the most important events of my life. I feel like the essence of SSP is fundamentally the idea that young people need to know that there are other people in the world a lot like them, but more importantly that there are way more people in the world who are different. SSP shows this through the diversity of the applicants they let in and also the many different and ingenious ideas that these people come up with while they are here. This is also the most surprising aspect of SSP because who would expect a bunch of nerds to be this interesting? This is the reason why SSP has been able to affect my life so deeply and also the reason why I will never be the same after coming here. The camp is truly an amazing experience all around and I am positive that no one will leave this camp unchanged. -James Schulman
SSP is an excellent opportunity to learn, to create, to discover and to explore. Such a chance to increase one's intelligence is rare and incredibly useful. -Strahinja Ciric
The six weeks that I have spent here at SSP have not only made me more intelligent but also opened my eyes to how academically focused people can come together and not always be in bitter competition. And for that I cannot appreciate this camp more. -Lloyd Zhao
SSP has made me a lot more open. When you live with awesome peers, it makes you a lot more fun yourself, I think. The most surprising part is, though, how fun it is. To be honest, I really did not expect to have as much extracurricular and social activities at SSP, and if you're given a choice whether to go swing dancing or not, you should honestly go, or else you might regret it, which would be sad (even if you go for just 20 minutes and find it not as exciting as programming or find the boys inextricably shy the second time dancing and not as open as the first time). SSP is a changing social experience that makes you as a person, so much better, and a changing academic experience that shall prepare you for college and outshine any school experience. Both socially and academically and everything in between, SSP is like a Sun in the day that outshines any other experience that you may have had. -Katherine Hsu
The people at SSP humbled me and reminded me that I am just one of nearly seven billion, but they also made me optimistic to see what the rest of life and the world has in store for me. -Connie Hsueh
The essence of SSP is that of a place with many intellectual, fun, and loving people who you will never forget! You WILL find something in common with at least 35 people! The most surprising aspect of this was how fast it went! Time flies when you're having fun! SSP has made me more sociable and has changed my perspective on getting involved with more challenging experiences! Now, I want to get involved with more things like SSP! -Charles Peña
SSP made me more confident about myself...Meeting all these smart, amazing people, the alumni network, they gave me more courage to dream. Swing dancing, field trips, never ending nights, Amery, Carammeldansen, I simply LOVED SSP. I have never imagined that after 12 hours of programming you can still have enough energy to dance or to play "Truth or dare"...Also, I have never imagined college so interesting. After meeting all the alumni from the college roundtable I can't wait for applying next year and I sincerely hope that I will end up in the same college as most of my SSP mates. I will never forget you guys! -Ana-Maria Constantin
SSP is duck stalking at four in the morning followed by some nine o' clock data analysis and a guest lecture on chaos theory. You can't get much better than that. -Calvin Maldonado
Everything about SSP, from the people to the sleep deprivation, is inspiring. -Xuan Nguyen
For those of you with existential angst, the whiny little feeling that the world is harsh and meaningless, with no opportunity for true communication or purpose, SSP can be a beacon. If you come to it opened up and ready to rumble in the world of science, you will wonder why everybody doesn't take a hint from the people here. They really are smart, fun, and open. And a lot like you. This is no propagandist hogwash. People can be straight-up cool. Come ready for it. -Lander Martin
When you stick 36 incredibly intelligent people together for six weeks to work on one crazy project, amazing things happen. Not only do they help each other become even more brilliant, they discover themselves along the way. -Tierney Larson
Six weeks of banana-yogurt bread, singing in the dark, midnight runs, and beautiful pranks-I'm a whole new person. -Kaixi Huang
You come in here in one form, and come out totally different. The secret ingredient for this transformation is social interaction with the smartest, most interesting people out there. -Yonatan (Johnny) Israeli
SSP is a life changing experience - only if you are receptive and willing to change yourself. -Mason Liang
SSP is staying up long after you finished your work in order to help your friends finish. It's a community of amazing and brilliant people who love each other. -Max Lu
6 days of knowing each other, 6 weeks of intense fun, and 6 decades of friendship. -Hirohisa Yamada
My summer at SSP was one of the best summers I've ever had. Yes, it was academically challenging, but that's part of the fun for people who've never really been challenged before. The 35 (36?) other people at the NMT campus are definitely the nicest, most interesting people I've ever met. And those two things put together define SSP. The program is a chance for smart young people to come together and solve a problem in an environment completely unlike any other they've been in before. It made me appreciate both the satisfaction of completing a difficult task and the company of other people. -Mariah Gilman
SSP will change everything. Just saying... -Carmel Sivron
Though the name Summer Science Program is a bit misleading, SSP is undoubtedly a social experience. The astronomy, physics, calculus, and programming are important, but they really just complement the fun times everyone has together. The academics brought us SSPers together, but it isn't what matters most in the end. What matters most is the relationships we made here and the memories we were cherish forever. -Catherine Wang
Friends become family. It was surprising how quickly I made new friends, everyone is open and welcoming. -Yujin Maeng
The essence of SSP is more friendship than academics. Really. The friendship and love are the ones that stand out the most, while the academics fade into the background in comparison. This is really what I was surprised about. I thought this would be nerd camp in extreme, with all the nerds here. However, it was all so different than I thought. Everyone is so nerdy, yet so awesome at the same time. There has never been something that changed me as dramatically as SSP. I started a lot of hobbies that I have never started before, and tried a lot of things that I didn't believe would be possible for me. Furthermore, I now know a lot about myself that I have never known before. Overall, it was the most important experience of my life. -Jiaming Zeng
The essence of SSP is not something easily described. It cannot be given or explained it can only be experienced. But the main experience is that of trust, learning, friendship, and hard work -Reed Sanchez
The people. It is such a thrilling experience that goes beyond my imagination and description of words. -XUE WANG
The essence of SSP is the exhilarating feeling one feels at 3 AM, shortly after completing a long vPython programming homework. This, combined with several days of sleep deprivation, results in a euphoric state that lasts until the next problem set comes out. :) The most surprising aspect for me was how well each team worked together. Throughout these past 6 weeks, my team worked together, slacked off together, had ramen parties together, and got matching bracelets to wear. SSP has shown me that working together in a team means that everyone is putting in as much as they can to help the group achieve a good result (and that it's okay to have fun while doing it). :D -Jenni Ting
How I found the orbit of my asteroid and never missed out on fun even on a single day!!! -Anand Khare
I was surprised at how many close friends I made. I didn't think it would happen at a "nerdcamp", but I had a lot of fun and had memorable experiences with everyone. -Amery Cong
2009 - California Campus
The essence of SSP is getting a challenge, or as Dr. Ran would often tell me, "pushing you outside of your comfort zone." I was most surprised by how much I was able to learn in such a short period of time. I have learned a lot from an academic perspective and have made many great friends. -Nitin Srinivasan
SSP was the biggest academic challenge of my life. I saw the parts of the world of science that I never heard of before and when I came back home, my brain was overfunctioning; it took a lot of time for me to get used to a low-dose-science life. -Ekin Ilseven
SSP is like talking to a mirror. Sure, everyone brings different perspectives and comes from different places, but when it comes down to it, it is like talking to a bunch of people who share the same intellectual curiosity and intellectual vivacity that you possess. And SSP is one of the greatest experiences you can have, because it's a great feeling to work with people like you in a non-competitive environment. And SSP shows you, by working with these fantastic people, the person you truly are. That's what SSP is about: bringing out the best in you by not only surrounding you with interesting people, but setting you all to work on a difficult problem in an experience you'll remember the rest of your life. -Michael Wagner
SSP provides students with a chance to test if they really want to pursue a career in science. Working with real data on problems to which there was no correct answer was a new and challenging experience. SSP helped me become a better problem solver and a more time efficient worker. Additionally, I think I not only learned a lot about my limits, but also the qualities that are necessary to pursue a career in science. It was interesting to find out which of these qualities I have, and which I'll have to work a little harder to attain. The most surprising aspect of SSP was most definitely how much I came to love everyone there. I think different types of friendships are formed at 2 in the morning. -Antonia Gallman
The most amazing aspect of SSP is probably learning new things and facing new challenges every single moment. You also learn puzzling things about your strengths and limits. I mean who would ever think you can program until 5 A.M. and at the end still want to play some basketball? -Oprescu Miruna
It is the chillingly fresh water that tickles your feet and bites at your toes when you first step into the ocean on a cool summer morning. It is the soothing mist that rolls down the curving landscape, shrouding it all in its gloomy stupor just when the sun peaks through a crevice in the mountain range. It is the smile that plays on your lips when you watch the world twist back into slumber, knowing that you would much rather see this than feel the soft embrace of your own bed sheets. It is just this. -Ketevan Tsereteli
Team work and collaboration. We are not just nerds! Everyone is talented in lots of different ways other than just academics. We had tremendous FUN in those nights when we stayed up till 5am. SSP opened my eyes to a multi-aspects, realistic world. It taught me to always be humble and open for knowing interesting people and learn from them. -Jie Zhao
After SSP has ended, you will have learned so much about your own personality and inner self. Being a part of the SSP alumni gives a feeling of incredible accomplishment. -Derek Chang
SSP is life as it should be. We all learned, loved, and worked at a level beyond what any of us had previously experienced. I could never have predicted how much i miss SSP or how much each person impacted me, but now i know that a little bit of each SSPer will stay with me forever. -Leah Weiss
The most essential aspect of SSP is the people that you meet and interact with. Friendships are made at all times of the day; some are made while trying to stay awake during lectures and others are formed during the wee hours of the morning. The most memorable friendships are created during 18-hour programming stints in the computer lab. -Jessica Lin
The beauty of SSP is that we were exposed to astronomy, physics, mathematics, programming - and we used all of it. It's hard to find a better place to be for 6 weeks in the summer than SSP. The people I met there, the things we did - all added up to the experience of my life. -Brandon Sim
SSP is not all about astronomy and orbit determination. It is mostly about discovering new and different people who are interested in the same things as you, and discovering more about yourself. -Abhimat Gautam
SSP is about science, but mostly it is about the people. These are some of the brightest, nicest, most funny, and all-around best people you will ever meet, from all over the world. I was pleasantly surprised how fun SSP was. It was the experience of a lifetime. After graduating from SSP, I learned much more clearly where I wanted to go to college and what I wanted to do as a career. It was refreshing to work with such gifted individuals; however, now I am disappointed to return to my old friends. They just don't compare. -Raven Clayborn
A crucial part of SSP is being able to interact well with the thirty-five other students there. SSP will help you learn much more than academics, but necessary social skills to work with people you see everyday. -Michael Yan
SSP has taught me so much not just about science and math, but also about working with others and making amazing friends. Without the friends here, I would have never made it through SSP. -Helen Wang
The essence of SSP lies in spending 6 weeks with people with whom you share common interests and goals, and pursuing them together. The most surprising fact was that I could enjoy a summer in which I spent 90% of the time working. The experience has made me think more and look forward to college more than ever before. -Dhananjai Venkataramanan Saranadhi
SSP is like a big family. I expected to find a competitive atmosphere between the smartest students around the world. However what I found was maximum collaboration. SSP showed us that some problems cannot be solved without collaboration. -Damla Sevgi
Who knew sleep deprivation could be so enjoyable? -Carolyn Zhang
Honestly, it's tough to answer these questions so immediately after the program. I feel that I won't see the full implications of SSP for at least a few more years. -Dominic Becker
The most surprising aspect about SSP was that we learnt science not for grades but merely for gaining knowledge. We learnt to work in teams, which made studying easier and lots of fun. -Abhishek Oswal
The challenging work and the amazing people made SSP an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. I am much more confident in my abilities and wish I that I had more time to spend with everyone. My peers made this experience so memorable. -Stephanie Laga
The essence of SSP is being surrounded by peers who are as passionate about math and science as I am... SSP has inspired me to pursue the subjects that I am interested in, and to go beyond my limits. -Wesley Chang
SSP is meant to challenge you. Don't be afraid of the workload or anything else. The most surprising thing about SSP will be how quickly you can make friends that will be a permanent part of your life. -Isaac Kim
Take risks and try new things at SSP. You never know what you'll find out liking. -Jonathan Lui
I was surprised to find that although there were gargantuan amount of work to complete in short period, we were able to finish them on time at the same time we enjoyed our time at SSP. I learned how to balance my time and to avoid from procrastinating. The beauty of collaboration is clearly shown at SSP. -Jane Shin
SSP involves brilliant minds clashing together learning topics in astronomy. The most surprising aspect was how well people were willing to help each other out in topics that they were unfamiliar with. This experience has allowed me to learn to interact with people of different expertise. I love SSP! -Michelle Chen
2009 - NM Tech Campus
SSP Socorro '09 is a family - a really energetic, off-the-wall, creative, brilliant family with no weird cousins and not a single annoying sibling. -Aaron Lewis
SSP is not like any other program, it establishes a unique social environment - and it will make you realize what you are missing out at school. -Demetra Sklaviadis
The realities of SSP: late nights, best friends, p-sets, lectures, more lectures, sleeping in lectures because you could not manage to the night before, telescopes, board games, mediocre food, amazing dinner conversation to mediate the terrible food, laughs and, when you have to stay up all night to work on the orbital determination or when it all finally comes to an end, tears. The essence of SSP: The summer of a lifetime. -Charlie Kelly
SSP took me to places I had no idea existed and deeply changed who I am. -Andrew Warren
Let's be honest-I came to SSP expecting 35 math and science geeks. Instead, I sat in front of someone with a passion for Contemporary Literary Criticism, and next to someone else with a book about Computational Linguistics. My friends here might not know me as well as my friends back home, but they understanding me better, because just by being here we all inherently have something in common-the desire to understand rather than memorize, and to problem solve. We all laughed at the "mandatory work time" because every night there were people in the computer lab doing extra error analysis on the OD report, or printing articles on Quantum Mechanics from Wikipedia. Without a doubt, the essence of SSP is the people, and this was made clear to us right from the beginning, from our first night kicked out of Driscoll, spent discussing science and religion and sharing stories from our travel experiences. The most surprising aspect for me was how naturally collaboration overwhelmed competition - I never felt any kind of competitive spirit, and this is what makes the program unique: the fact that there are no prizes, no grades, only personal feelings of accomplishment and self-satisfaction that can only be attained from helping others as well as ourselves. When I return home, I will e-mail a researcher in parasitic infections and a Counter-Intelligence Director with CIA experience. I will bring home a report with more equations and concepts than I ever imagined I would have been able to grasp in six weeks, as well as an extensive network of friends stretching from Thailand to Canada, from Turkey to India, from Greece to California. I don't know whether I want to be an astrophysicist or a neuroscientist or a CIA spy, but I do know that whatever I do, I will work in a team, and that team will be made up of scientists and mathematicians as quirky and diverse as those that I spent six weeks with this summer. -Anna Ho
SSP really has been the most intense intellectual experience I've had so far, and probably will continue to be for years to come. But what really distinguishes SSP from anything else are the people that make every year unique. Late nights in the computer labs are just as memorable as games of Catan and Poker. Everyone works hard, but the fun is just as important. It really was "the summer of a lifetime"...Thanks SSP! -Charles Liu
SSP has made me realize what all I can do, and that I can tackle a challenging research problem. The students are absolutely amazing, and the social experience you will receive by spending time with 35 other students over 6 weeks is incredible. -Jack Ingalls
SSP is about learning more than just math, physics, and astronomy. It's learning about yourself as well. -Paula Tapia
Being locked up with 35 interesting and smart people-makes for the best summer experience. -Chanon Praepipatmongkol
SSP, crazy nerds doing crazy math and science from dawn to dawn...what's not to love? -Kendall Capshaw
SSP offers you a lot in many fields, not only academic but also in social area. It shows how collaboration work is important in your entire life. And I learned that this is one of the most important things in the path of being a unique scientist. -Ceren Burcak Dag
To see an assortment of thirty-six students from around the world gather together on one campus for six weeks was truly the essence of SSP. Helping one another tackle academics, talking about politics and philosophy, listening to music, and playing games such as kickball and ultimate frisbee truly meshed us all together. To see such a multitude of strengths and interests in one group of people was truly surprising, and the experience has made me more aware of the many types of people that exist in the world. -Velury Rajiv
Easily more than anything else, the essence of SSP comes from the students, who really renewed my view on science and education in general. -Chris Hong
The essence of SSP is the amazing social and academic collaboration. It had made me more confident. I have realised the importance of collaboration in the field of science. It has motivated me to work towards my goals. -Maitreyi Sangal
I thought it was going to be a boring summer, but it was the best summer I had in my life! -Hee Sung Park
At SSP I gained a clearer understanding of my interests and what I ultimately want to pursue. -Kirin Sinha
At the most basic level, SSP focuses on putting intelligent, curious, and motivated people in proximity with each other for an extended period of time. The OD, although it is a pillar of SSP, is only one way of getting smart people to work together and to pool their strengths and creative talents to accomplish something that no one could have done alone. It has showed me what can happen when I get to spend time with people who are as inquisitive and eager to learn as I am. We all grow, we all learn, and we all get a larger and more complete picture of the world and all its contents. I can only hope that as I continue through life, I will always be surrounded by a group of people like the one I was a part of at SSP. -Bhargav Setlur
SSP was an extremely unique experience that included so many unforgettable moments, and they spanned across the entire spectrum of academic matter to social interaction. -JJ Liu
The essence of SSP is definitely the community of intellectually gifted individuals. This community has brought the best experience I have ever had and will continue to be part of my life long after the program is over. I have now grown to appreciate the mathematics and sciences more than I ever have. SSP has been a turning point in my life in which I now view my interests a completely new and refreshing light. -Daniel Wu
All the amazing people make SSP, SSP! I've never met so many peers that held the same interests as me and I've definitely made friends that I will have for the rest of my life! -Garima Gupta
The essence of SSP? Finding 35 of the kind of people you always wanted to be friends with but didn't believe existed. The most surprising aspect? Feeling all spunky about yourself for getting into such a selective program only to get there and realize you actually aren't smart - relatively speaking. It has helped me to understand myself a better as a student and a friend. -First Rubin
SSP assured me what I want to do when I go to college. It gave me an intense experience of what college is going to be like. I will remember this experience forever. -Dennis Won
SSP has an academic environment unlike anything I have experienced before. The camaraderie and collaboration of such a diverse group of students was incredible, and has allowed me to gain new insights that I will carry with me into my college career and beyond. -Megan Parsons
The essence of SSP is in the simple premise that, if you get your calculations wrong, PEOPLE DIE. Learning to live with this premise, or even enjoy it, is the greatest benefit SSP has to offer. Indeed, Death by exploding balloons, free fall, and an elevator traveling at 50m/s are all very enjoyable physics problems. -Dyaln Juedeman
SSP was an extremely unique experience that included unforgettable moments across the entire spectrum of academic matter to social interaction. -JJ Liu
When you are stuck in a dorm for six weeks with thirty-five other people who are more like you than any other group of kids you've ever met, it's surprising how much you can flourish. SSP has been a myriad of first-times for me, and I don't regret any of them. -Rebekah Cramerus
I would not equate SSP with merely drinking from a firehose. SSP is like getting punched in the face for the first time by a set of abstract ideas, being buffeted about by a whirlwind of unimaginable geekiness, and managing to savor it all. For what feels like the first time in my life, I had the chance make life-long friendships with people who shared my interests. I came to SSP with doubts about where my place is in the world, but I left with a sense of what my purpose is. Of all the things to do in the world, there is nothing comparable to The Summer Science Program. SSP pushes you to the limit of your intelligence, but slowly extends it. If I get impatient waiting for a chance to become a TA, I might just consider applying under a false name, with me as my own mentor. -James Chang
The main essence of SSP to me, was the entirety of it. Everything combined made SSP what it was. The most surprising aspect by far were the lectures. i had never learned so much information in such a small amount of time. now, after going to ssp, i feel like i have a better feel of students around the country and even the world. i have grown up in a secluded area and in a small town, and seeing what is out there makes is an incredible thing. -Brendan Freund
The essence of SSP is being part of something bigger than you. The most surprising aspect is not what you learn about in science, but what you learn about yourself. SSP has given me a greater outlook in life. -Joseph Kreitinger
SSP is unique because of the social and academic experiences it combines...the most surprising aspect was the obscene amount of fun everyone managed to have while still doing more work than ever before...I have become much more open to the idea of collaboration and cooperation because of SSP. -Dylan Liu
The essence of SSP is trying something new, awesome and exciting; learning while socializing with some of the smartest people I have ever met and having tons of fun while I am at it. -Brendan Kutler
SSP really was the best six weeks of my life. At the time, I thought I was overloaded and stressed, but that turned out to be what made the program mean what it does to me. SSP does take what you think you know academically and turn it into what you really do understand. -Kristin Barclay
You would expect SSP to be a program with geeks and nerds but that is not true whatsoever. People here are very social. I used to be very very shy but this experience changed me. -Eun Ji Lee
SSP was the most amazing six weeks of my life!! -Jordan Feyko
The Summer Science Program is where collaboration meets purpose, diligence meets desire, and pride meets honor. I learned more about myself here than from anything I've ever experienced in my life. The Summer Science Program truly is a life-changing place where discovery and self-introspection are not only goals but more importantly assets that each student gradually accumulates. -Sebastian Chiu
The essence of SSP is learning that you are not the smartest kid in the class. You really understand your potential after coming to SSP. -Shankara Pailoor
An exhaustingly fun experience. -Ryan Pyle
Everyone here is amazing at something and most people seem like they are good at everything. It doesn't take long to feel like you're a small fish in the vast ocean, but it is just as easy to make friends and feel like you don't belong anywhere else.
SSP defies description and expectations equally. All you need to know before experiencing it is that you will love it.
What's the best thing about SSP, the most surprising, the most life-changing? All the same answer: the people, the people, the people.
When I applied for SSP, I was expecting a rigorous science camp. I had been to academic camps before, and I was imagining something similar. Maybe smarter kids, maybe more difficult work. What I got was the most intense six weeks I've ever experienced. Faced with challenge after challenge, I was forced to learn more about myself than I ever wanted to know, all the while alongside 35 other fascinating people, all going through the same process as I.
SSP is.. the most amazing and intense six weeks of my life. SSP is amazing people, amazing memories, power naps, philosophizing in the telescope dome at 3 a.m. SSP is unforgettable.
SSP solidified my interest in science and gave me a college-like experience that I'll never forget.
It's better than RSI ;-). In SSP, you can experience the true meaning of working hard and playing hard. By the end, you will have friends from across the world who shares your memories. SSP also greatly expands your knowledge in various aspects of science other than astronomy and helps you identify your interests.
Zi-Peng (Hunter) Zhao
SSP is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is unique because of its culture and traditions and which really gave me an insight into college life.
I discovered that I could work really really hard and have a really really beautiful, amazing, stress-free time doing it. Plus, for once a peer group where you can unlock your inner-nerd and be welcomed with open arms.
SSP has taught me so much about math and science, but it's taught me even more about myself: where my limits are, what I can do and how far I can go!
SSP is one of those experiences that one remembers for the rest of their life. The tired students that assemble at the amphitheater on the first day have the capability to do college graduate level work and one day might lead the science world.
The best thing about SSP is how, by spending time with such amazing and talented students, you discover more about yourself and learn where and what you might be in the future.
You will get exposed to and learn about so many interesting subjects in science here through lectures, guest speakers, and field trips. It's strange to think of where I started and where I am now. I know so much more about astronomy, physics, programming, college and a bunch of other random things I never considered before.
For 95% of activities here, there will be another student here who is better than you at it. But everyone will find their own 5% of excellence.
The real value of SSP is that it pushes one to the limit, forcing one to learn and think at a rate far above the demands of our modern education system.
In no other place can you be with 35 other brilliant people doing and learning about topics you are actually interested in...thanks SSP for one of the best summers I have ever had.
SSP has been the most amazing experience of my life. Now it's hard for me imagine a life without SSP. I would never be able to forget the all nighters we pulled programming and seeing all the students falling off to sleep during the lecture the next day. I would never able to forget the intense frisbee matches and latenight parties. SSP has carved in me a new responsibility that will let me help this program so that many more students can have even better experience at this place than me. SSP has made me believe that six weeks can change your life tremendously and that there is no limit to which a person can be challenged. I will try my best in the future to help this program flourish.
Getting to work with quirkiest and most plucky people you'll meet on the most grueling yet strangely inspiring project--that is SSP in a nutshell.
SSP was the most socially rewarding and intellectually stimulating experience of my life.
The best part of SSP is the sense of community and the people I met from everywhere and really got to know between staying up till midnight doing homework to observing to playing cards.
SSP is a academically and socially stimulating environment that would create a lifetime memorable experience for anyone.
Ojai is said to mean "nest". This was our nest, of those who searched for the stars every night, who searched for knowledge every day and who searched for ourselves every time. It is shocking how much you learn about yourself, and not by a sudden realization, but from the conversations you have with other people. It is meeting these amazing people that helps you discover more things about you that you would ever imagine.
I was surprised at how SSP challenged us all at some point or another, and how we made close friends within a few short weeks and also at how fulfilling it is to be able to use our own data and programs to generate the equatorial coordinates and orbital elements-which was the goal of the program.
SSP was much more than a stepping stone in life, it was a pair of wings that flew to new heights, an engine of discovery, and a social experience like no other.
SSP greatly changed my life. Not only did I determine what I want my profession to be when I grow up, I also learned about the wonderful aspects of teamwork and collaboration. I loved the work environment here, which is similar to those at top-tier colleges and the scientific and engineer world. SSP truly prepared me for college and life.
Tsung-Ju (Jeff) Lu
The best thing about SSP is having the chance to work with 36 of the most interesting people you've ever met, on problems that are always intriguing. It becomes more than just a summer camp - it becomes a community, and you never forget the people you meet here.
I wish I could spend my senior year with everyone from SSP!
The social experience at SSP is unique. I've made friends that have changed my outlook on life and academics, friends who motivate me to do better.
SSP taught me about independence, challenging yourself, and staying up really late.
SSP is an incomparable experience, it's a mix of pain and pleasure, and you can't leave it without feeling changed for good.
SSP is the most challenging, most rewarding fun you'll ever have in your life!
SSP is intense, both academically and socially, and I know that what I have learned here will follow me throughout life.
SSP is the place where you work hard, play hard, and never want to leave. Each and every person here is incredibly talented and incredibly intelligent, and surprisingly not as "nerdy" as you'd expect. It's shown me that there people as dedicated as me out there, that I can handle a lot more than I thought I could, and that I can have an amazing social experience and an amazing academic experience at the same time. I wouldn't trade this summer for anything.
SSP will help you understand just how little of the world you've already seen.
SSP was a crazy rush of intellectual activity that bound you to your fellow campers; by the end of the program it felt like it'd only been a day instead of six weeks (possibly because I'd stayed up all night for a two nights getting my OD done).
SSP is a balance game between sleep and work, socialization and work-induced isolation, time and accuracy, and most importantly, work and play.
SSP is like all great educational experiences; it's a lot of work, but if you really want to, you'll learn more than you ever have before.
There are only a few experiences in life that one could call truly amazing. For me, SSP is one of them. The camaraderie created in the classroom, on the basketball court, at Etscorn Observatory, in the computer lab, and in the dormitory can never be truly replicated. Whenever I think back on summer 2008, I will truly be able to say that SSP has been an exceptionally enriching experience.
Both the academic and social aspects of SSP are important; it is necessary to find the balance between the two. And remember, this balance does have to include sleep, if only once is a while.
Siheng (Sean) You
At SSP I experienced all the best sides of being surrounded by 30-some geeks and absolutely none of the unpleasant ones.
SSP is an experience that melds several aspects new to everyone who attends and that will stay with them for a long time.
I can only hope college will be half as fun--both in academics and in its social life--as SSP.
SSP makes you humble toward greater people, greater knowledge and the greater world that you have never seen.
It's made me into a better person who can analyze questions in a clear fashion and be able to account for my own actions.
SSP is the most thrilling academic and social experience that many of us could ever have in life. It is the kind of experience that any young rising scientists around the world should consider.
It's a program that is as hard as you make it, as fun as you make it, and educational as you make it; and I recommend you make the best of everything.
I've been to many other academic summer programs that the average SSP applicant might be interested in. As somebody with those similar experiences, I can honestly say that I believe SSP was the most fulfilling program I've been to, from the academic component to the social atmosphere. It met all my expectations and more.
When I first arrived and was told, "The SSP community is much like a family," I was skeptical...It turned out to be more true than I ever could have imagined.
My best SSP experience: lying under the stars at 4 AM with five friends from all over the world, experiencing what we learned during morning lectures, and making sense of all that we see in the night sky.
Science first, beach second, each other above all.
SSP championed everything I knew and loved about science: hard work, challenging problems, good teamwork, but showed me a level of social bonding I had never felt before. I firmly believe the friendships made at SSP will be among the best and most beautiful of my life.
When a group of people strives towards a common, difficult goal, facing and surmounting countless trials and tribulations, they learn more about themselves and each other than they would have in any other situation.
I cannot take SSP out of my mind, nothing compared to SSP seems now good enough. I changed more in 6 weeks than in 4 years of high school. I thought that finding the orbit of an asteroid concerns only about normal, well-known, even boring Newton mechanics... I didn't know anything... SSP turned out to be even academically the most exciting experience I've ever had. The friendships that I found in SSP are true, genuine, sincere and deep. I wish I could spend I lifetime with them all. SSP taught me many important lessons, both academically and socially, that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Can I attend SSP again next year?
SSP was like a wonderful dream that I did not want to wake up from. I loved simultaneously working with and having fun with my fellow geeks.
-Mary Beth Yu
SSP provides you with the amazing feeling of scientific achievement after many, many troubles...
-Hasan Onder Polat
SSP challenges you to the absolute limit of your intelligence; that is what's so awesome about this program.
I found SSP extraordinarily valuable not just because of the intense curriculum, but because of the shared spirit of inquiry and academic excitement that unites everyone who chooses to come to the program.
Wow. SSP was the experience of a lifetime for me, where else would you be excited about staying up all night in the middle of the summer, picking out an asteroid from a plate full of stars and programming a physics scenario.
Before SSP, I never would have guessed that staying up until three am for observation, tumbling into bed too exhausted to even think about homework, and then waking up at six the next morning to finish could be one of the most exiting and fun experiences of my life - but it was. From sleepovers in the dome to stumbling into Saturday morning lectures, SSP was a most intense, amazing experience.
An intellectual challenge beyond any I've ever had; friendships deeper than any I've ever forged; six weeks' worth memories that I will cherish for a lifetime; an experience that is truly one of a kind: this was my SSP.
SSP was an amazing experience, because not only were we having fun observing actual asteroids and galaxies in the sky, but we also met so many people and I liked every one of them.
At SSP, the work is hard (but rewarding), the people are brilliant, and the memories are unforgettable.
From the first time I set foot in the dorm to the last time I gazed fondly at the campus, these six weeks have been an unending epoch of discovery.
SSP was the best six weeks of my life - and the saddest part was letting go of the memory of a lifetime...and reminiscing with lifelong friends about the wonderful, wonderful program!
In being in an environment where everyone was smart, I saw it as a challenge, a test of my own abilities. I was forced to push my mind to try and match the kids around me, and in doing so I realized how much potential I had.
SSP has changed my life forever, it showed me just how hard I could work and just how little sleep that I could live on.
SSP was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. It was great because I not only spent 90% of the day awake, but I also learned more than I could have even imagined.
WOW! Time of my life!!!
SSP was the most amazing thing that happened to me. The cultural variety and all the people here was the best thing about it. I've had some of my greatest experiences here.
I knew I'd be staying up late, but I never realized that I would chose to do so just for fun so often.
SSP combines challenge and fun in such a way that you can always tolerate not to sleep...
SSP proved to be the most socially rewarding and academically comprehensive experience that I have ever participated in, as the cooperative atmosphere fostered great thinking and helped all of us reach our potential.
It was one of the greatest experiences that I have had.
I've learned more science here than I have in any other six weeks of my life. SSP is so challenging and fulfilling in all aspects that it's a pity school takes up so much time when we could be doing something like this.
SSP is what happens when you set a bunch of brilliant people in a room for six weeks and see what happens. Even the highest expectations will be surpassed. SSP allows one to understand not just the equations of science, but the life of a scientist. It's thrilling in a way that not even the most eloquent formula can adequately describe.
SSP pushed me harder intellectually than I've ever been pushed, and the experience taught me that I can assimilate more information than I ever thought I could.
I enjoyed meeting like-minded people. I hadn't met any psychological clones of myself before SSP. I was expecting a harsh, stressful academic experience. The relaxed, friendly atmosphere surprised me. SSP has motivated me to pursue the physical sciences more seriously.
SSP is awesomeness wrapped in delicious wrapped in delectability wrapped in a yummy tamale sheath.
SSP was truly an amazing academic experience. It was challenging, fun and unique. The tremendous intensity and rigor are unrivaled by any high school curriculum. SSP also assembled a close-knit group of highly talented students from around the world to partake in this experience together, which gave us all a taste of the kind of collaboration that real science is about. I will never forget what a great program this was, and I hope to remain an active member of the SSP community as an alum.
- Senan Ebrahim
This was my first six weeks of college: I learned much about the world and myself through the academic environment and the people here, something that cannot be had in an ordinary high school.
The most important thing about SSP is not what you're learning, it's the environment in which you're doing it. The friends you make at SSP are a lot more like you than most other people you meet. The common academic challenge instills a sense of camaraderie that you don't see at school.
SSP is a place where you don't have to worry about fitting in; at SSP, even if you don't try to, you get sucked into the community instantly, and you'll enjoy it all the way.
The most challenging academic coursework I have ever encountered balance by the best people I have ever met.
Hard work but a lot of fun; a really great experience.
SSP showed me that there are lots of amazing, interesting people who like science and math as much as I do. I now can't wait to go to college!
SSP is an experience in which you are driven to extreme conditions, academically as well as socially , with 35 amazing peers.
I will never forget the close knit group of friends that I have formed here and cherish the time I spent at this program learning from both professor, TA, and student alike.
SSP stands for "Splendiferous Scientific Phenomenon" or "Splendiferous Scientific Party"
SSP may be "nerd camp" but the people here are the most fun, interesting and intelligent people I have ever met.
SSP is the first place I have ever been where doing homework is almost a social event; people work very, very hard, but it's fun at the same time.
At SSP, I learned a lot and was required to work harder than I'm used to working. The people were amazing and made the experience not only bearable but fun. I feel infinitely more prepared for college now.
SSP is a chance to spend six weeks with thirty or forty of the most amazing people you will ever meet, doing everything from hanging monkeys all over the common room to programming until 2 A.M. You will never forget it because it helps you to discover who you are and what you want.
SSP was an amazing experience that not only taught me advanced physics and astronomy but also gave me a taste of college life, two things I would never have experienced at my high school.
The best thing about SSP is getting to spend six weeks in a community of people as motivated and as interested in science as you are.
SSP has a very diverse range of people, and you will have an experience and make friends that will change your character in many different facets.
Believe me when I say this will be one of the most exhausting and exhilarating experiences you will ever have. Be ready for it.
Imagine some of the most eccentric, friendly, and intelligent people you'll ever meet, stick them all together in nerd camp, and that's SSP; you'll make the most amazing friends and memories to last a lifetime.
SSP offers the student the chance were be surrounded by fellow intellectual endeavourers and to experience for the first time that he/she still has a great deal to learn in the realm of academics.
SSP was the most bizarre, incredible, fabulously intense experience I've ever had, filled with the some of the most extraordinary people and best friends I've ever been able to work with, and exponentially increased my love and interest in scientific research.
SSP is the most challenging thing I have ever done. Calculus in five hours, late-night observing, sleep deprivation, total non-comprehension of six hours of material...but it is also the most fun I have ever had; gorillas attacking during lecture (don't ask, they hushed it up), field trips, late-night card games, just sitting around talking with people that you can really relate to - it's incredibly rewarding. I loved every second of it.
SSP gave me an incredible experience for six weeks; it was generous enough to also give me memories for a lifetime.
SSP was the most rewarding social and academic experience that I have ever had.
If you forget everything you learned in the six weeks packed of lecture, you'll be ok, so long as you remember the fun you had doing it. Because in the end, that's what it's all about. Having fun.
SSP has expanded my horizons and better prepared me for college
SSP is a mixing pot of all sorts of ways of thought. Don't forget to bring some way of defending your own!
I loved pulling late nighters with my friends doing the math homework and having the most comical time in my life.
The best thing about SSP was the chance to meet brilliant people from all over the world. I was surprised by how much these students have achieved already in their academic life. I decided to work harder in my high school senior year, to achieve my goals. I was from a small town in New Mexico with small concept, but not anymore. SSP brought me a step closer to achieve my dream.
When you are surrounded by geniuses, you have no choice but to get smarter.
I found out that there are people out there as eccentric and odd as I am.
Cooperation, individuality, and rigor falls short of describing SSP. It is more than that... SSP is a place where one rediscovers his/herself, where one's mind is challenged to its limits and beyond, where one's character is tested, and where one learns the true meaning of "leadership is not a quality it is a way of life."
I loved working to all hours of the night with my peers and the feeling of genuine camaraderie that was present in everything we did. I learned that working in a group can be fun and that it is a great motivator. I will always remember this experience and never forget what it has taught me.
I learned more in 6 weeks at SSP than I did in an entire year of some of my classes back at home.
SSP is swing dancing for three hours before heading straight for the computer lab to finish a programming assignment. It's only at SSP that having fun can motivate you to do more work.
SSP was the hardest academic challenge I've had. I loved it.
I thought I would grow tremendously intellectually here at SSP - and I was right, but I found that the priceless part of it was being with my SSP family and growing the most socially and as an individual, which was unexpected but definitely fruitful.
I can't imagine what my life would have been without SSP and the academics, people, and 3am Denny's trips that came with it.
Before coming to SSP, I thought that SSP would just be another summer nerd camp. It is one of the most social programs I have ever been to. The information you pick up here is infinitely helpful and the relationships you make here are priceless.
It's not a coincidence that SSP alumni keep such strong ties to the program - a program so academically rich and allowing you to meet so many other people as intelligent and passionate about math and science as you are is bound to stick in your mind for the rest of your life.
There is one thing you won't be able to do at SSP: you won't be able NOT to make friends. Someone once said that SSP was like drinking knowledge from a fire hose. Well, it's true. I drank from that fire hose. Believe everything you've read in the testimonials about this program.
SSP is the epitome of social interaction and intellectual stimulation, a place where you will meet the people who will shape you forever.
Meeting these incredibly intelligent yet also social people has just made me so excited about college... I hope that the SSP environment will carry on into my college years.
This program is short and sweet -- nothing else that I might have done this summer could even compare to blast I had here while making friends from all over the world and learning college level material.
-A.J. Eldorado Riggs
Before I went to SSP, I read through the quotes on the website. At the time, I thought they involved a lot of cliché and exaggeration. I did not take them seriously at all. Yesterday I was reading through the quotes again, and I realized that all of them were completely correct. SSP really is intense. It really does change lives. And you really don't want to miss it.
SSP has proven to be one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I honestly enjoyed the very challenging work, and I am walking away from SSP knowing some of the greatest kids I have ever met.
SSP is literally life x 1000. That's the only way I can describe it.
SSP will stretch you in more ways than you've ever experienced and teach you so much about yourself.
The quality of people I met here, the friendliness of the staff, the incredible beauty of the surroundings...all of these have lead to an experience that I will remember forever!!
SSP gave me a lovely social environment, an incredible learning experience and a dent in my sleep schedule.
The people here are amazing, simply that. The faculty are geniuses, but always join in our fun. The students know how to get work done, but more importantly, they know how to have fun while getting the work done.
SSP is the most unique, hardest, and most rewarding summer program available both academically and socially.
We worked and played all night long.
SSP makes my anticipation of college ever greater. It has exposed me to more serious academics and greater freedom.
SSP is the only place where I have met so many interesting people who enjoy the same things that I do. It's also the only place where I have looked at my watch after 15 hours of programming and said to myself, 'Hmm. 1 AM. Maybe I'll go to bed early tonight.'
Before coming to SSP, I wasn't sure whether I would be happy devoting my life to science. Now I'm pretty sure I would be.
The most intense summer of my life: in between measuring, midnight basketball, and early morning programming, I have made memories here to be cherished.
The OD Project from the first day of observing is like walking through a dark tunnel without a light, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel -- only after several 4 AM mornings with your slightly (perhaps very) giddy teammates. Having "Chariots of Fire" played at full blast past midnight when we finally finished measuring is something I will never forget.
SSP was an excellent opportunity to bring my interests in math and science together into a research project that has much more meaning than anything learned from a textbook.
SSP has been the most wonderful and craziest experience of my life; both socially and academically I have done more than I ever expected possible in six years, let alone in six weeks! I have learned so much about not just physics and astronomy, but also about myself. I would not trade my experience at SSP for anything.
Being around such amazing people for those short six weeks altered my outlook on life. At SSP, I found people that care not only about academics, but really care about each other.
In school there's only a handful of individuals who are truly interested in academics and pursuing something great in life; at SSP, there are thirty-six.
I made some of the best friends I ever had, and I can't bear to leave them. Best of all, I learned how much I absolutely love science.
The life change per day rate was higher than I ever imagined it could be. Thank you, you have profoundly affected my life for the better.
… the epitome of camaraderie
I have learned more than I ever thought possible. It was hard but it was also very exciting. I wish I could spend every summer at SSP.
-Sarah E. Stanley
SSP has changed my life. It has opened my eyes to the wide and deep field of astronomy and astrophysics.
SSP is a great opportunity to learn a lot of cool things about science and an even better way to learn about yourself.
Six weeks of work for six little numbers = the best summer I've ever had. -Patrick Holvey
SSP makes you aware of the bubble you may have been living in, and breaks you out.
The people here are truly amazing. It feels like I've known them way longer than six weeks, and simultaneously as if I should be here six weeks longer.
I learned how to pick two out of sleep, study, and social life.
SSP rocks my socks.
What amazed me most was the people here. They weren't all nerds and geeks! I learned that you can be really smart but cool at the same time! -Teressa Van Diest
SSP became who we are, and we became SSP. -Shuo Han
SSP has been an amazing experience for me. Here I have made the best friends I could ever make and have found out that my true career does indeed lie in science. Thank you SSP!! -Jyotsna Venkataramanan
SSP was the most amazing social experience I have been privileged to have. It also manages to be a model for the way learning really should be pursued. -Camilo Brokaw
I'm sorry. I've failed you. I am incapable of summarizing SSP, my experience here, and the impact it's had on me in even several sentences. -Emma Lipari
When I came here, I was a little skeptical; how could your whole life change in only six weeks? Now I know firsthand that it is possible. These past six weeks will be part of me forever. -Nichole Clarke
Every morning I would wake up and think, hey, I'm going to work, doing what I love, with people just like me! -Renuka Ramanathan
You're in another universe for six weeks - where you learn about everything, about life - then you go back to earth and carry that experience inside of you everywhere you go. -Helen You
SSP has been a life-changing experience. There is nothing else like this in the world. I will remember it forever. -Marshall Fox
It's a world where people are people and science is cool. -Jameson Neff
SSP has changed my life. (Yes! The cliché phrase!) There is no way I'll return home and look at my life in the same way I did before. Simply knowing that people like this exist (and being surrounded by them for six weeks!) is amazing. My interest in astronomy has been renewed; as soon as I get home, I'm going to take out my telescope and explore. -Irene Toro Martinez
An experience like SSP cannot be put into words. It's exhilarating, exhausting, emotionally uplifting and simple incredible. I've just finished the most amazing six weeks of my life. -Ariadne Medler
Whoa! A "flip you upside down shake you and pour more knowledge in until you like it" kind of place.
- Chris Christensen
SSP has by far exceeded my expectations … by how much? Infinitely.
- Anna Ly
They were right when they told us that we'd learn more than we ever thought possible. But I had no idea how much fun it would be, and how great it would be go to through it with others just as excited as I was.
- Eve Burstein
Why can't school be like this?! Finally I'm doing real challenging work, not just busywork.
- Alex Early
At SSP, with every step, you feel you are developing. First week, you try to see in the dark; last week you can see in the dark!
- Ahmet Kizilay
You can never fully prepare for SSP. The experiences, the friendships, the work, and the sleep deprivation are unlike anything you've ever experienced. And you can never "recover" from SSP. You'll remember it for the rest of your life.
- Nathaniel Major
SSP is a lot more fun than I expected, which is saying a lot, because I expected to have a blast!
- Peter Combs
SSP has had an astronomical impact on my life.
- Michael Moseley
For the first time in so many years, I am motivated and inspired to learn - I was challenged and I enjoyed interacting with such fun, smart people!
- Kerry Eskenas
SSP is like a black hole ... if you get to it you won't let go forever.
- Alex Phelps
I never knew learning could be so challenging or so exciting.
- Melissa Latham
SSP is a community of scholars where you push yourself not to keep up with your peers, but with yourself.
- Laura DeMare
SSP was an absolutely amazing experience. Not only did I learn, study, and observe at a frantic pace, but I also got to enjoy the company of my bright and funny classmates.
- Greg Chanan
SSP changed my life. It pushed me so far beyond the limits of a high school education and experience that I feel as if I do not need another year of high school. SSP is the turning point in my life.
- Evelyn Cheung
Never before had I realized you could be brilliant and confused at the same time, but now I know that's the norm.
- Karen Brown
The program was a really, truly amazing experience, it was the best experience of my life. Some of the people who came were so brilliant. One of my goals is to get someone from Traverse City to go every year.
- Jim Kreft as quoted in the Grand Traverse Herald (Michigan)
It's been only about 3 months since the end of the program, but boy am I ready to go back. I would love to be a TA ...
- Rasvan Ungureanu
I am extremely thankful for being one of the lucky few students that were part of this program. Over the 6 exhilarating weeks, I was both able to challenge myself academically with the interesting topics discussed in lecture and meet many intriguing people in an atmosphere of concentrated and elevated intellectual activities. The experiences I had at SSP will never be forgotten.
I thank you for granting me this opportunity to be part of this program and for making this program possible. I hope this program will continue successfully into the far future and provide a transient but memorable education opportunity for the best and the brightest.
- Tian Xia
"I've never been challenged like this before," Tarter said. He viewed the intense training as an opportunity of a lifetime. "It was the best six weeks of my life," said 15-year-old Tarter.
- J.B. Tarter as quoted in the Times-News of Twin Falls, Idaho
SSP gave me an entirely different perspective on life. In a way, you can say that it "expanded my horizons".
Enclosed is a donation for $30 to the SSP fund. Please use it anyway you see fit to further the Summer Science Program.
As for recruiting new students for the program, I've told many of my friends of the experience I had at SSP and they seem deeply interested. I will refer them to the website and I am confident that many of them will apply. Thank you again for the wonderful experience I had at SSP.
- Chris Day
For me, the Summer Science Program was an unforgettable experience. Its goals and its participants' goals were identical, which as a public high school student was a new concept for me. There was no hierarchy, and everyone was brilliant. The SSP experience gave me insight into the minds that will someday be the innovators of our world.
At the time I had nothing to compare it to, but looking back it was a lot like attending college.
- Zak Cotler
I had arrived with a sense of "oh-god-another-summer-nerd-school"; a really bad attitude and a cynical personality. I left raving about SSP to all of my friends at school. The honor code instills responsibility on campus, and one really learns to trust everybody else. It becomes a small community.
Every SSPer is a testament to the life-changing experience of the program. The sense of accomplishment (and relief) of finishing the impossibly difficult orbit determination and overcoming 72+ hours of sleep deprivation makes a lasting mark on every participant, whether that student decides to go into JPL or agriculture.
Having been to numerous summer programs, I can safely say that SSP was the best experience of all.
- Joanne Chang
My parents took a huge leap and said they would make it happen because they felt it might be of great importance to my life. Boy were they right! The risk they took has shaped my life and put me on an amazing path to success. As I start grad school, I owe a lot of where I am to SSP. I am slated to become the first person in my entire extended family to obtain my doctorate.
- Andrew West
To be immersed in a science experiment working with your peers, to discover that there really are other teenagers who like science as much as you do, is a wonderful experience. To have it happen in a positive, supportive atmosphere is truly a blessing. My experience at SSP gave me confidence in my abilities and helped teach me the joy of an intellectual challenge. The friendships I made there will last a lifetime.
- Bonnie Valant-Spaight '89 and TA '93
SSP was one of the greatest programs I ever participated in. It helped me establish sound study habits so that I could succeed in medical school.
- Kerry Green
The Summer Science Program is the best educational experience I ever had. Anyone who has ever been in contact with the electric atmosphere of the campus as teams of students successfully complete orbital element calculations knows that The Program must survive. Future scientists deserve the chance to learn in this wonderful place, too.
- Lara Salamacha
Although I was taught science incomparably well there, truths I discovered on my own were the most remarkable. I found that the right company could make any place ideal, and I no longer needed the big city. Further, I found how marvelously wild and free I could feel, being perfectly myself. In short, I seem to have found the quintessence of everything that summer.
- Laden Malek
College would be much more difficult without that boost SSP gave me. I regret only that I shall never have such an opportunity again.
- Ken Kelley
The impact on my life has been tremendous. Being with such creative minds challenged me to seek my own limits and capabilities. I cannot speak highly enough of my own experiences at SSP.
- Carol D. Bronsdon
I discovered my passions and lost my intellectual virginity at the SSP.
At first, my roommate and I shared no common ground. Within a week we were good friends. He helped me with calculus, helped me pull off wild pranks. We left the program as great friends and stayed connected in college. In those six weeks, our asteroids' trajectories overwhelmed most cultural differences between the students.
Working much of the day and night on an interesting problem is a luxury which everyone ought to experience to see if science is for them. It surprised me how naturally we devoted much of our free time to pursuing and deepening the intellectual challenges offered at SSP. SSP taught me that bright people with shared purpose can accomplish anything if given the environment to succeed. - Charlie Zender
SSP was certainly a major factor in my decision to become a physicist. And watching some of the initially introverted students make friends and become involved in the SSP community was quite rewarding.
- Elizabeth Simmons
The greatest and most valuable exposure to true genius I experienced in my six weeks at the SSP was to my fellow students. It was at the Summer Science Program that I truly learned to appreciate and gain from the brilliance of my peers. As an undergraduate at Caltech, I found myself well prepared by the SSP to enjoy and appreciate my classmates' intellectual abilities, rather than feel compelled to compete with them. There is much to be admired and learned from those around us.
- Charles R. Barrett, Jr.
Never before had I met such a group of motivated students. I enjoyed their company not only because so many of us turned out to be nocturnal creatures, keen on problem sets, bull sessions and practical jokes, best between 3 and 5 A.M. They also provided a preview of what I could expect at college (I went to Princeton) in terms of a stimulating, motivated peer group. Moreover, the camaraderie that took three years to develop at college seemed to blossom at SSP in less than six weeks.
The feverish excitement of the last two weeks showed me firsthand how thrilling it could be to do science. And the notes I brought back turned out to be helpful in Princeton honors physics.
- Steven Dickman
SSP remains one of the most important events of my life. It gave me the courage to apply to Harvard, and to go there once I was accepted. While I have ended up pursuing a career in business, I have only ended up where I did because of SSP. The idea of working in teams to complete a group project is as important in business as it is in the scientific community, and the work at SSP was invaluable in this area.
- Mike McKay
SSP was my first exposure to a national peer group of students and teachers to loved learning, who revered science, who felt passionately about humanity, who dealt compassionately with people, and who knew all the lines from Monty Python.
The Program had a profound impact on me, intellectually, professionally, and personally. It has been of such significance to me that the "Education" section of my professional resume lists my Ph.D., my B.A., and my S.S.P.
SSP is aptly named as the Summer SCIENCE Program, not the Summer Celestial Mechanics Program. Maybe it should be called the Lifelong Science Program.
- John K. Kruschke
Surely there are other students now who are in the same position as I was. They desire to know, but their high schools cannot supply the knowledge. They have not had the opportunity to work in a team of equally bright students under the supervision of trained scientists. I hope that SSP can continue to provide all this.
- Steven Allen
After SSP, I was fortunate to go on to some other astronomy experiences that were tremendously important to me, but I have to wonder: would I have made it, without SSP as such an inspirational stepping stone, at such a difficult and impressionable time in my life?
- John W. Briggs
I think that one of the most useful aspects of the program is that it gives bright students a chance to see how interested they are in science. Some students choose to study other things in college based on their experience at SSP. As it turns out, the program increased my interest in math and physics, and convinced me to attend Caltech, which I think was the perfect place for me to go to college.
- Eric Korevaar
The Summer Science Program has had a significant and positive effect upon my life. It is not that I was led into a career in science. In fact, after receiving degrees in physics and engineering I decided that I would prefer to be an historian. However, what I learned at the Program applies every bit as much to the humanities as to the sciences.
After years of enforced mediocrity in the secondary schools I learned that knowledge is a wonderful thing, well worth seeking regardless of tangible reward, that excellence requires hard work, and that I need not be ashamed before my peers of my curiosity.
These are lessons far more valuable than any equations. They are lessons not taught in most schools. SSP teaches the exhilaration of learning. The Program is wonderful. I honestly believe that you would have a difficult time finding a single alumnus or alumna who would dispute that claim.
- David Fullerton
I can honestly say that not a month goes by that I don't think back with fondness toward the six weeks I spent at SSP. I made many close friends while there. But I suppose the most important memory and the reason why SSP is so valuable is that for the first time I was on my own and surrounded by thirty-five equally committed and equally intelligent people but with thirty-five different backgrounds from which I could learn. I cannot to this day tell you the excitement that a seventeen-year-old can feel when, placed in that environment, he becomes challenged to the limit of his intellectual capacity for the first time, and working with other talented people, solves a problem which at the start of the program was completely incomprehensible.
Although I am now a lawyer, there really are many aspects of The Summer Science Program experience which are still useful to this day. My clients frequently present me with impossible problems, they do not give me sufficient data to use, and they place unreasonable and impossible deadlines on me to accomplish their goals. SSP was much the same, and the techniques of problem-solving are the same, in astronomy, medicine, or law.
- Ricky D. Balthrop
I was immersed in an atmosphere of intense intellectual stimulation and challenge. Exposure to such an environment is critically important to the development of any bright, young student, regardless of whether or not that student ultimately chooses science as a career. It certainly had an enormous impact on me. I am utterly convinced of the value of the Summer Science Program to science and education in this country.
- Richard P. Kubelka
The U.S. has junior Olympic camps in athletics, it trains some of the best athletes in the world, and it MUST train the best and most creative thinkers. The SSP role in that regard is NATIONAL, and remarkable. While judging at the International Science Fair earlier this year I had dinner with a number of Nobel prize winners and many high school students. I could (and did) say truthfully that SSP is the best of any pre-college program in the U.S. I know of.
- Douglas Duncan '68 and TA '74-'76National Education Coordinator,The American Astronomical Society
I cannot think of a more valuable experience for students.
- David W. Warren
Another benefit was to meet a lot of other people who were just as smart as I was; this was a chastening, and valuable, experience. I well remember several graduates in my year announcing that the experience had convinced them not to go to college in science. The value of this was brought home to me when I went to a technically-oriented college, and watched people making the same decision after spending a year or more going in what turned out to be the wrong direction.
- Duncan Carr Agnew
We got to know scientists working in the field as people - interesting, quirky, and personable. I am always proud to tell people that the man who discovered quasars used my baseball glove.
- John Press
Attending SSP was an intellectual and social watershed for me. The feelings of isolation many academically talented teenagers experience can be mitigated by a program like the SSP which encourages positive social interactions as well as intellectual growth.
Over a decade later I founded and led Lotus Development Corporation. Without doubt, SSP was a material positive influence on my later progress.
- Mitch Kapor
It was one of the greatest experiences of my high school existence.
- Douglas Richstone
I personally credit SSP with waking me up intellectually, and therefore with one foundation of my success. The incredible confidence the faculty had in all of us, including many who had never risen to a challenge before, changed my perception of what I was capable of doing.
- Oakley E. Van Slyke
One summer of living and working with scientists and graduate students was worth more to me than many years of study at high school, and continued to be a help and an inspiration during my college years and beyond. In my opinion, SSP deserves the designation of The Summer Science Program.
- Robert F. Stellingwerf
The program pushed me faster than I thought I could ever go. Without the SSP, I doubt that I would have discovered my true potential for success in science.
- Ron Chestnut
By the end of the program I and most of the others had been completely transformed. I was truly ready for college as a learning experience, not a grade competition. I had learned by actual experience the value of openness and intellectual honesty. In short, I had done several years worth of maturing in six weeks and had an incredibly good time doing it. Later, as an undergraduate at Caltech and graduate student at UCLA, I watched while people more talented than I dropped out or flunked out. Their immaturity and emotional struggles won over their academic talents. To this day, I believe I would have been one of the dropouts had I not been lucky enough to experience SSP.
- Denis A. Elliott
Attending SSP was the first time I was able to relax and be myself in a group of peers interested in the same things I was.
- Alan Gross
SSP was a life-changing experience. Like most attendees, my SAT scores were the highest in my class -the time was ripe for a reality check. We were challenged and stretched in a manner that felt like an intellectual boot camp. I think the momentum provided by SSP got me all the way through my Ph.D.
- Joel Kvitky
In some respects, SSP remains the most academically cohesive and intense educational experience I have ever had. That, I suspect, is true for most who are fortunate enough to attend it. If it weren't for SSP, my vision would be narrower, my aspirations less ambitious, and my life less rich. I don't exaggerate.
- E.C. Krupp
SSP had a profound effect on my career development. To be in the company of so many really bright peers was an extraordinary experience. It was the first time that I could be carried along by the pleasure of developing a deep understanding of a subject.
- Henry A. Lichstein
SSP established among us a realization that excellence requires discipline, diligence, and dedication - getting up at 3 A.M. to take your turn with the telescope. In my own case, the immersion was both a shock and a spur, and as a result I was not as surprised by the later intensity of undergraduate work as some of my fellow freshmen.
- David Helfman