Transcript

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my name is william pereiro i attended the summer 
science program they have like two campuses i

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was part of the astrophysics campus and that 
was like almost a year ago last june to july

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and it was virtual ssp was kind of like a really 
big highlight of my um year last year so um

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normally it would be done in person so um i would 
have traveled to my campus was new mexico tech so

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i would have traveled to new mexico tech for like 
six weeks and like operated a telescope um there

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and kind of done research on like calculating 
the orbit like a near-earth asteroid um using

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like um physics computer science like math tools 
um but because of like the change of plans and

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like um the pandemic and everything um it was all 
online so we kind of did the same things i guess

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um just like on zoom so i would still put 
in a research team of three people um and we

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kind of worked together to um use computer science 
techniques to make a program that was able to like

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calculate the trajectory of a near-earth asteroid 
um and then we worked in like a flow group like

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our entire campus um was just like learning 
concepts we learned new physics astrophysics

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concepts we learned um new math concepts that 
i have that i hadn’t seen before the program

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um and i even learned python so it was a 
lot of it was a kind of a balance between

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like learning and research it was a really good 
balance because i felt prepared to do the actual

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research with like the learning support that we 
received um it was kind of split up into two um

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two categories so like in the morning we would 
work on problem sets uh we would be learning new

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new science or math concepts and then at night 
we would be like working on research or working

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on problem sets so it was a really fun experience 
overall because of the experience i was able to

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publish um data my group was able to publish data 
and with to the international astronomical union

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um at the harvard smithsonian center so 
that was also a really cool opportunity

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and um yeah it was a lot of research 
um a lot of learning new concepts

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and stuff it was pretty challenging because of 
the collaboration i think it was really rewarding

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it was definitely extremely academically 
challenging i was unfamiliar with most of the

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topics that we learned there when i got there 
um but the support system is really good um i

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kind of caught on to some concepts but um they 
do emphasize that even if like when you leave

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the program you’re not going to be like a hundred 
percent like sure of every single concept or 100

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remember every concept but a lot of the people who 
are alumni of the program say that when they do

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get reintroduced to the concepts like years later 
in college um they can pick it up easily and it’s

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because of like ssp and so i would say it is 
very academically challenging and you should

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um prepare yourself for that but don’t be 
discouraged if you come in and you’re not um

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like familiar with like a lot of the concepts 
that they teach because nobody usually is

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yeah so there were a lot of opportunities to 
connect both um both formally and informally

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so formally we had like workplace blocks where we 
would collaborate with um our teams and like break

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out rooms and then we would also like collaborate 
with people in other groups um just like working

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on problem sets together or um just working and 
working on our projects i like as individual teams

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um i think it was like it was super fun we would 
like do that like every night the blocks where

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we like did that kind of stuff was like four 
hours long and so it would be arranged by ssb

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and then we would work on stuff together um and 
it was extremely fun we had tas who would like

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encourage like activities we had like a talent 
show and stuff on weekends so it was a fun social

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experience um that ssp organized but there was 
also like the aspect of like a social experience

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outside of what the program had or organized we 
had we have a discord server which has like 200

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members and it’s still active now like it’s it’s 
extremely active and a lot of people like talk

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on that every once in a while and just catch 
up with people i’m still um close friends with

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my research teammates um we still talk every 
day and so there’s like a lot of opportunities

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um just socially to like connect with each 
other and like talk to your fellow ss peers

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i’m not 100 sure if there is like a causation 
like going to ssp gearing i don’t think like

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going to ssp guarantees that you will get into a 
good college but i will say that there is a lot of

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correlation because a lot of people who do go to 
ssp are just extremely passionate about what they

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do and they just like have a like perseverance and 
all that stuff they’re really talented and so a

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lot of them do end up like at really good colleges 
i know a lot of um popular college destinations

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for people who go to ssp are usually like techy 
schools like mit or stanford but also like more

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humanities based schools which is something that 
i was like into so like um yale and harvard um

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but yeah there are just a lot of opportunities um 
to like get acquainted with colleges i think we

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had admissions officers from caltech and mit and 
harvey mudd um come to the program just to like um

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speak about like their respective schools and 
see if anyone was interested in like applying

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and answering their questions um after the 
program we’re connected with ssp alumni

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so ssp was started i think in 1959 so like 
a long time ago and so they have like a very

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large network of like alumni who like um a lot of 
them are maybe professors or even like go to like

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a lot of colleges that people do want to go 
to and so it’s very easy to connect with them

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there’s also a program that um for my year it was 
like the test program so it was like the first

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time they did this program but it’s called the 
ssp connect program and the ssp connect program

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basically connects um the ssp after they finish 
the program to um young alumni so people who have

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been out of the program for maybe like one to 
two to three years or even up to like 10 years

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who have like the same interests as 
them who have the same like career um

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choices that they want to follow who have like 
the same college choices who they want to follow

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so that i think was um a really really really 
important um part of like ssp like afterward

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um like after the program was done um i put in 
my um in my um there’s like a google form that

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you fill out and then you would just like put um 
what what kind of mentor you want um so i put in

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my mentor sheet that i wanted that i wanted to 
go to yale and that i was interested in like

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pursuing stem and like art in at yale um 
like humanities and so i was paired up with

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um my mentor my ssp mentor who was a year 
older than me who actually went to yale and

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um she helped me with like the college 
admissions process she helped me like

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um with college advice with my essays um with 
all of that stuff and because of that i think

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i was um a lot more prepared to apply to yale than 
i would have been otherwise so it’s a lot of like

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a lot of support like during the program and 
also a lot of support after the program is over

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i didn’t actually apply to any other um summer 
like science programs in retrospect that was

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probably a mistake um but i chose to apply 
to ssp over some other programs because of

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like academic factors so um one thing was that a 
lot of other programs kind of focus on independent

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research and i had done independent research for 
like science fair before and so it wasn’t exactly

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something that was like new to me i kind of wanted 
more of a challenge and i felt that i needed a

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little bit more like academic background in order 
to like obtain a challenge and so ssp didn’t only

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like give the opportunity to do research but 
it also gave like the opportunity to like learn

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a lot more than i would have if i just like read 
research papers individually um and then the

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aspect of collaboration as well like that support 
system was very appealing to me you can’t really

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find that in other summer programs um and then the 
other factor was financial cost so i know there

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are like a lot there are honestly a lot of summer 
programs that exist um but a lot of them at least

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have um financial barriers so they cost like a 
lot of money um it’s just very hard to like apply

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without even like an application fee so when i 
applied to ssp i don’t think i had to um i don’t

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think there was like an application fee which 
was like the first plus for me and the second

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plus was that they had need-based financial aid so 
they had alumni who um or they’re i think they’re

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completely funded by alumni donations so they they 
raise like an incredible amount of money every

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year um but because of like those alumni donations 
i was able to attend for free and a lot of people

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in the program are able to attend for free or 
for a reduced price so they’re very forgiving

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when it comes to like financial aid and um i 
encourage anyone to like who wants to apply

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or anyone who’s like considering financial 
factors to definitely take a shot and like apply

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the best part might be just um how like how 
it like affected me like personally um with

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regard to like my confidence like academically 
um i i learned a lot of things in the program

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um like chief among them was probably the 
fact that science is not something you’re

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just supposed to get uh like during high school 
i didn’t go to magnet um school so i didn’t have

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like that much of a scientific background um 
and so when i did like do science or when i

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just did like academics in general i would just 
like rank myself based on like how well or how

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easily i could like understand the subject and 
if i couldn’t understand the subject very well

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i just assumed that i wouldn’t be good at it and 
so kind ssp kind of changed my perspective on that

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um it kind of inspired me to um not just like 
look at something realize it’s very confusing and

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it would probably take me a long time to do and 
then just assume i’m not good at it um it really

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really pushed me to kind of um just keep on like 
attacking a problem until i understood it and

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understanding that like when scientists like do 
research or when they try to understand like new

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concepts they aren’t really like understanding 
things at first it’s very hard to like understand

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concepts but when you like spend a lot of 
time working on something it’s more about

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like your passion for it and like 
how determined you are to like

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understand different concepts and different 
fields of science that actually makes you a

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good scientist and makes you a good fit for 
science so that’s what i kind of learned um

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during the program that really like sparked my 
confidence um in pursuing something in science

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i don’t really think there 
was like any bad part of

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the summer science program i would say it does 
get a little bit stressful at times because um

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there’s just a lot of work um it’s it’s a very 
fast-paced program it’s very academically rigorous

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there were a lot of like nights where i would 
sleep like three to four hours um just working on

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problems that’s really doing work but i think it’s 
still like 100 even though it’s like very hard um

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very difficult a lot of sleepless nights it is 
a very fun opportunity i remember like the night

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before the program ended was when we had to like 
turn in our research papers and i think i stayed

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up with my group and like a bunch of other um ss 
peers until like five to six am working on writing

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a research project just to submit it and so i 
think like that kind of like community support

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really um made it a lot better and um really 
taught me that even though like it’s academically

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rigorous and like no matter how difficult things 
can be if you have like a community of support

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around you that’s like a very important thing and 
i think that’s definitely something that i’ve um

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kind of emphasized with like a lot of my future 
life decisions um so like when i applied to yale

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for example one of the reasons i was looking 
at yellow was because of like that same

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strong community of support that i got at ssp and 
so i think ssb just overall changed my world view

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on like what it means to be like what it means 
for something to be difficult or challenging

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so um we didn’t get like our paper published we 
got our data published um in the like minor planet

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center uh report or i forgot what it was called 
but um yeah that’s something that everyone at

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ssp gets um like published like um they’re just 
work um based on like the research they’ve done

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um they will um ssp will send the data to the 
international astronomical union and then they

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will look at it and make sure that it’s like 
pretty much accurate um but then they will

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like publish the data into their um journal or not 
journal but report or minor planet center report

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um so technically there’s no guarantee 
that you would get your data published

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but i’m pretty confident that anyone who does 
like ssp will eventually get their data published

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and this is for the astrophysics on campus i’m 
not 100 sure how it works with biochemistry

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obviously the fact that every like 
advertisement that i saw online was

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them like actually being on 
campus um it was not or it was

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not exactly what i had pictured because of 
like that whole virtual aspect but obviously

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we couldn’t have like actually done it in person 
and with the like the resources we had at the time

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and the fact that they made it very flexible for 
ssp students to kind of like get into that a whole

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ssp on campus mindset um it was definitely worth 
it um i think just the fact that we were able to

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like download all of the like astronomy software 
onto our computer and then um like all the coding

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software i feel like that kind of maybe even 
helped us a lot more than we would have done like

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on campus i i do think that it was um a very it 
it was very much kind of similar to the way it

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would have operated um on campus like obviously 
i was not there so i don’t know how they did it

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but based on like the advertisements 
i saw i feel like it was very similar

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advice i would have for someone who is 
applying to ssp is to not worry too much

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about stats so i know when i applied i didn’t 
even have like an sat score and it completely

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stressed me out um but i feel like just from my 
application what i really pulled through was kind

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of the idea that um i really love science and that 
i really loved using science um like as a tool to

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help other people and i feel like both of those 
concepts were really apparent in my application

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so i wouldn’t worry too much on aspects that you 
cannot control um like your stats or anything

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i would say do as much as you can to show that 
you’re interested in like science like um i took a

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radio astronomy class just for fun with my physics 
teacher and because of that it convinced me to

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take astrophysics into the biochemistry because i 
didn’t know which one of the two i wanted to take

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and then in my essays like really elaborated 
on how much like i love science and like for

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one of the supplement questions i talked about 
like um this volunteer initiative that i did

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um where i was like teaching young 
kids stem and so i was just like um

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really talking about how much like i love science 
and how i really wanted to like do something good

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with science and i feel like that’s shown through 
my application so focus on um the things that you

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can’t control like um just like your essays 
and like what classes you decide to take even

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and then um leave everything else alone don’t 
stress don’t stress about your sats or don’t

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stress about your gpa or anything just focus on 
what like your passion is about um like what in

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science you want to like pursue and what you want 
to like give to the world or to the community