I'm Going to Japan This Summer

Incredibly joy hit me after swim class on Wednesday afternoon. I was walking from the gym to dinner and checked my email (I’ve been checking my email anxiously for the past couple weeks), and I see the word, “Congratulations!” I had been accepted into my top choice, the Nakatani RIES program, a research fellowship in Japan hosted by Rice University. I’ll be there for 12 weeks, learning Japanese language and culture for the first three weeks then conducting science and engineering research for the remainder (not sure of subject just yet, but it is nanotechnology related!)

I couldn’t have done this without the people that helped me get here. So so many people helped me, whether that was encouragement, bolstering my confidence, or fine-tuning my essays. Most importantly, the strongest motivator for me was other people believing in me. Monique, the Academic Grant Director of our school, would always be available to edit my essays and give me advice. I remember two weeks ago when I was hit with a wave of rejections, I came into her office concerned and asked her, “I think we might need a plan B.” When I met up with her yesterday, she said I looked devastated when I came into her office two weeks ago. We laughed about it, but I am glad we didn’t have to do a plan C. I also had immense support from Professor Altman. He wrote me nearly 11 letter of recommendations and supported me every step of the way. Professor Otto also wrote me a couple letter of recommendations, but more importantly he supported me and checked up on me often. When I told him that I was being hit with rejections, he said he might be able to get me a mathematics summer research REU with him contingent upon if a prior student that applied for it formally accepted it or not. The student that applied for the REU accepted in the end, but this gesture was immensely kind. Other people that helped me include Professor Wendy Petersen Boring , Professor Kleinert, and career counselor Cathie Klutz. And of course I had awesome friends that supported me (Hi Master!). Shout out to Ottillia for buying me a congrats cookie!

To those that are looking for summer jobs and opportunities, don’t give up! I applied for 11 REUs (research programs) and got rejected by 10. I also applied for 5 internships and got rejected by 3 and never heard back from the other two. And my plan B involved contacting 7 startups, all of them with no luck.

I am incredibly excited for the summer. Before I go I will need to learn all of the Japanese alphabet (Hiragana and Katakana). So many things are going on at this moment, but this is one of them. As this semester draws to a close, the next chapter will dawn!