“How SSP Changed Me”

alumni word cloud
This word cloud was made from alumni comments going all the way back to 1959.

The enthusiasm and longevity of the Summer Science Program’s support from its alumni and former faculty (aka “members”) may be unique among summer programs, and strong evidence of the profoundly positive effect it has on participants. SSP is perennially top-rated on GreatNonprofits. Last summer’s participants wrote these comments before they left campus:

The essence of SSP is collaboration and dedication. This program has shown me the true meanings of both terms and how they really affect the outcome of your work. The drive and work-ethic that the students here consistently display has changed me to realize that there is no upper bound to knowledge, and that there is always something that you don’t know.  -Haroni Amare

This program made me appreciate how much I can learn from others by simply swallowing my pride, admitting I have no idea what’s happening, and asking for help.  -Sara Branham

At SSP, I entered an intense scientific community where I was pushed to my limits every day, and I loved every second of it. I learned that it’s fine not to know the “right answer” immediately; collaboration and problem-solving matter so much more than the eventual solution. SSP gave me the confidence that I really do have what it takes to be a scientist. After this incredible experience, I can’t wait to join the scientific world and pursue research in the future.  -Brin Harper

Being in an intense environment surrounded by people who love math and science as much as, if not more than, I do was an eye-opening experience in itself. I feel like the essence of SSP is the intelligent, fun, talented people that you get to meet here. Also, I found out that I really enjoyed doing just math and science for 6 weeks, which gave me more confidence to pursue a STEM major in the future.  -Eun Young Jung

SSP is more than just an amazing academic program that has perfected its formula of pushing students outside their comfort zone over 60 years; SSP is where students can truly have an experience of a lifetime.  -Jae Yoon Kim

SSP taught me that I shouldn’t be afraid to continuously take on more challenges throughout my life. At SSP, I learned that not only am I capable of doing more, but that there is a network of like-minded people doing the same. It was about time I experienced that challenge and that camaraderie.  -Jessica Metzger

SSP is an intense academic program, but it is also a life changing experience. It is an environment of collaboration, curiosity, and intellectual enthusiasm. It is a place to connect with fascinating, motivated peers, all excited to be spending their time learning about math and physics. SSP is an opportunity to research, work, and learn about the world around you; it is a chance to try different things and experience science in a new way.  -Abby Mintz

SSP was an astoundingly amazing experience. I had the opportunity to learn, work, and research surrounded by people who were just as eager as I was to get involved in science. I was constantly challenged, which is a feeling that I really love–it means I know I’m learning new things and really pushing myself as hard as I can. I met people that I know I’m always going to stay in contact with, and learned very valuable social and collaboration skills that I will continue to use throughout my life. For me, SSP represents a fantastically rigorous education paired with cooperation and 35 diverse and interesting people, a program that will forever be unparalleled in what it does for its students.  -Collin Montag

SSP provides an unrivaled experience for the students around the world who truly want a challenge in a field they have a passion for. This incredible program didn’t just open up a new door into the world of STEM – it blasted it right off its hinges. Both I and my fellow SSPers feel ready to tackle any problems that lie ahead, and know that we can always count on each other to collaborate.  -Julian Tarazi

SSP is an unforgettable research experience made by scientists, for scientists. Its long, venerated history attests to its rigorously inspiring curriculum and academic environment, virtually perfected by years and years of repetition. The people I have met–my friends and my mentors–molded my academic passions, my personal values, and my unconditional love for a program truly life-changing. Although we will be separated by miles and miles of uncompromising physical distance, I have never felt closer and more engaged with the friends (or should I say, family) I found at SSP.  -Stanley Yu

SSP is an incredibly challenging and intensive program that brings together people from all over the world who share the same passion for learning. I believe the essence of SSP is the sense of community that brings us all together. SSP has made me realize that I am capable of accomplishing challenging tasks – like determining the orbit of an asteroid – and it has made me more determined to pursue a life where I will have the opportunity to meet more people like the SSPers I have met here.  -Elisa Zhao Hang

SSP, in essence, is a program to bring together students who have never met but should meet. To teach them what collaboration is and introduce them to the concepts of scientific research. It’s to force these students to hit a wall and force them to see that they can and will overcome, just like the generations of SSPers before them. -Gayatri Balasubramanian

SSP is about learning how to learn from others. It’s about a community coming together to solve problems. It’s about working hard to realize your passions and potential. SSP has been an incredible five and a half weeks, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. -Annie Chen

Help others. I’ve never been so aware of how powerful that is in science. The challenge is something we all have faced, and I would never have made it through the program without my peers. -Rosita Fu

At SSP, I was constantly being surprised at what I was capable of. I never thought I could run a telescope like the one at Etscorn without help from adults or pick up a new programming language in a few days. It all seems so obvious now, but my pre-SSP self did not know it was possible. If there was one defining thing about SSP for me, it was that I can and should always push myself harder. -Anna Kasradze

SSP has taught me just how precious and invaluable collaboration is for all fields of life. Having thirty-four equally smart, equally talented, equally fascinating people right beside me for the duration of the program made me realize the futility of trying to compete with my peers and the unending benefits of working with them, laughing with them, them picking my brains for help and my picking theirs. While the research and educational experience I had was elite and fantastic, I would say this network of quirky and amazing people that I developed was more important to me. -Manan Khattar

I was totally overwhelmed at first and thought that there was no way I would be able to make it through SSP alive, but what I didn’t realize in the beginning is that SSP is a community not a camp. Everyone helps everyone and everyone cares about everyone. The support network helped me to realize that science is not about having the best grades in your AP Physics class. Science is about learning with each other and from each other because at SSP we are all teachers and students of each other. -Daniel Michael

At SSP, you come in a student and come out a thinker, a learner, and a researcher. You come in with a love of learning science and come out with a burning desire to actually do science. You come in hopeful of your abilities and come out sure of your potential. -Alex Moser

On the surface it may seem like SSP is about the things you learn, but that is not the case. It’s about how you learn these things. To be successful here you have to learn to collaborate, experiment, fail, manage your resources and learn how to ask the right questions. These things are more important in life an science than anything they could teach us. -Nathaniel Steenhuis

SSP is where intellect is challenged intensively, where mistakes are merely opportunities for improvement, and where lifelong bonds of friendship are forged. -Michelle Tang

SSP was beautifully structured, our final project: OD code was satisfying beyond words. Every single thing that we learned, in every single lecture, from while loops, to planetary orbits, to the in class derivations came together. When we finished it, turned it in, and shook the professors hand, we felt like we had just finished a chapter in our lives. -Daniel Torres

SSP will make you laugh until you’re in tears over funny moments. SSP will make you cry at the beauty of the sky. SSP will fill you with awe at just how enormous the universe is and how tiny you are. SSP will make you realize how much tiny, seemingly insignificant changes and actions you do today can grow over time to create massive impacts in the future. SSP is filled to the brim with intense, enriching, awe-inspiring activities that may seem overwhelming during the session but are everlasting once you leave it. -Lucy Zhu