‘Why Hopkins’ Category

  1. Over the Hump

    November 23, 2011 by Cate W.

    This year marks my second year staying in Baltimore for Thanksgiving.  It’s  bit weird seeing all your friends and classmates heading home for the Holiday, while you stay near campus making microwaveable asian noodle bowls for dinner.  It’s been pretty crazy recently.  There is only one week left of class, and I still have two midterms left.  Then it’s finals time, and then I finally get to head home.

    It's been pretty cold outside, so little Buddha got a parka.

    I’ve been giving a lot of life recently to what is the Hopkins experience to me.  In three short weeks I’ll be over the hump, completed 5 semesters, and only 3 more to go.  The one thing I’ve done a lot of at Hopkins is classes.  Every semester but one I’ve overloaded, taking 19, 21, and even 22 credits.  Every time I’ve made it through with incredible consistency, and that’s why I have no worries that in three weeks I will have happily, or unhappily (I kid), finishing my toughest semester yet.  It’s always been my choice to take so many credits.  I’ve never been pressured or force to take an extra class.  There are of course penalties you pay when you make this decision.  One being a lack of sleep, the other being (maybe) a loss of a little sanity.    Last week, as I was heading to the registrar’s to remove one of my many holds before registering for spring courses, I called my mom, which is something many stressed college kids do.  She said something to me that kind of opened my eyes.  She asked me why I always took so many classes, to which I responded, “Because I figured if I am only here for four years, I want to learn as much as I can.”  Then she responded, “I think you are trying to prove something.”

    So many Turkeys at my local grocery store.

    It got me thinking maybe I use my “I want to learn” reasoning, to hide behind something else, something deeper.  I think deep down maybe I am still trying to prove that I am good enough, that I deserve to be here at Hopkins, that I am an intelligent female.  In my last three semesters at Hopkins, I don’t want to waste them in the library.  I want to enjoy things that makes the Hopkins experience unique, like taking Spring Fair weekend off and going to the Lighting of the Quads.  I have only a short time left here, and if I waste my time trying to prove to myself that I’m worth it, it will vanish quickly, and I’ll never get to enjoy the fun times that make up half of the Hopkins experience.

  2. What I Can Contribute

    August 12, 2011 by Cate W.

    Every high school student dreams of the day they don’t have to think about apply to colleges anymore, the day that SATs and essays don’t cross their mind, where anticipation and anxiety dissipate to relief.

    I’m 3 years beyond the process of the college application experience, so maybe you think I don’t recall much of the experience.  This summer I think I have spent more time reliving the college application experience than maybe I spent actually applying to colleges.

    It all started this summer when I started the admissions representative program.  Basically, after some training I now give interviews to applicants.  It’s probably my favorite three hours of my week.  In part because most of the rest of my week is dull.  I’ve always been told I am a good talker, so I occasionally like putting my talking skills to work.  Since joining admissions at the beginning of my freshmen year as a part of SAAB, my favorite part of the job is interacting with high school students, both prospective and admitted.  Admission representatives in unique in that these students are forced to talk to me for a good 45 minutes one on one.

    When one is very bored, they often find hobbies. I have picked up coloring, which is a very, very pre-college pastime. Check out them coloring skills!

    Some interviewees are really nervous.  Some hand you stacks of papers of resumes and grades and SAT scores.  I do not want to see those!!! For any future Hopkins interviewees, or interviewees for any other school, it is most refreshing when you are relaxed and you just act like yourself.  I like hearing about people’s lives, so I always find it interesting to have some stranger go on about themselves for an hour or so.

    Most of the time the interview is spent talking about the boring stuff, i.e. APs and academics.  Occasionally, I get really unique glimpses of who exactly these kids are, like the girl I discussed where exactly in the Doctor Who series I should begin.  Then we swooned over how gorgeous (and British) Matt Smith is.  It’s the moments like these that I enjoy the best.  It’s learn the quirks about each applicant, the movies they love, the books they read, the music they listen to, and occasionally odd things like attractive British celebrities.  Interviews are done for the summer now, but I will commence again once the school year begins.

    The rest of my summer has been spent tutoring.  In June I joined a group called MESA, where I have been tutoring students from across the state of Maryland, most from Baltimore County.  MESA is a bit different than some of the other tutoring opportunities at Hopkins.  A student has to be accepted into the program, so each student involved is very motivated as well as meets a certain academic requirement.  All of the students are minorities, which is something that makes me very happy.  As a high school student, I wrote a research paper in my AP Language and Composition on affirmative action, ultimately arguing in favor.  I think it takes some people by surprise that I, being of middle class and also white, am in favor of affirmative action.  Also, I find the grand majority of people I meet are against it.

    Anyways, this blog is not going to go into a discussion of affirmative action.  When I joined this group at the beginning of summer my initial task was to individually help students with SAT math questions.  Eventually it turned into my lecturing on math topics such as geometry and probability (this required a refresher on my behalf, ick applied math.)  Then the students wanted workshops on writing, so I began to teach on writing an essay for the SAT, and then it turned into discussions on personal essay writing and searching for scholarships and universities online.  Originally, it was simply teaching simple math concepts, but suddenly I feel like I have become a personal coach on college admissions, which I may or may not be qualified for.

    I haven't been doing any studying at all. Voila!, my desk. Observe the empty peanut m&m bag, the hamburger phone (yay Juno!!), and the unopened bottle of sparkling grape juice given at the first ever chembe excellence ceremony.

    To me it’s been a really amazing experience.  In the end only five students stuck with the program.  Honestly, it was hard to see the rest go.  One week each of the five students did a presentation on a university on their choice.  It was then that I learned that one boy wanted to be a doctor, another wants to be a statistician, another wants to go into sports management, and the last wants to pursue both art and engineering and is particularly interested in the joint program between Hopkins and Mica.  The only girl wants to join the air force and become an engineer, which to me is an incredible dream.

    Only two more weeks remain in the program, and then the students move onto a different program, which will continue to prepare them for college and standardized testing.  I guess it’s been a particularly special experience in that these kids are really interested in gaining something from this experience, and, shockingly many of them are only high school sophomores and juniors.  I have really built an awesome relationship with each of them.  It’s nice to have someone ask me questions for a change.  Instead of me asking interviewees “Why Hopkins?”, I get to be asked “How did you end up at Hopkins?”, “What about scholarships and financial aid?”, etc.

    There are a few words that ring bells in my ears during interviews, one being diversity.  I think this word is thrown around a lot in college admissions, and it has many different meanings.  One question on the list of potential interview question is something along the lines of “What could you gain from the Hopkins experience, and what, in turn, do you have to contribute?”  I hate asking this question because it’s like hitting an interviewee with the hypothetical baseball bat of abstractness and vagueness.  However, now I can say diversity is something I have gained from Hopkins, diversity of world view, diversity of opinion, diversity of culture, diversity of interests, diversity of aspirations, diversity of background and experience.  Coming into the Hopkins community, I thought I couldn’t contribute much in terms of diversity.   In high school, you take part in extracurriculars in part for something to do with your time, but also to build a strong resume for colleges.  Once you’re in college, what you do in your free time doesn’t have a huge impact on what you will be able to be and do in the future.  Hopkins has lead me to do so many great things with my life so far, not only academically, but also non academically.  I do these on my own accord for maybe no real reason at all.  This summer has really shown me what I can contribute to the Hopkins community as well as the entire community as a whole.

  3. That’s a Deal Breaker Ladies! Meet JHU_Cate!

    April 7, 2011 by Cate W.

    Over the next few weeks, the Hopkins Interactive bloggers will be posting a common blog. Through these, you’ll get to know the bloggers, and learn a little bit more about our Hopkins experience and why we chose Hopkins.

    Get to Know JHU_Cate Name:

    Me in my wicked awesome Dealbreakers shirt. Liz Lemon is my idol. Thank you NBC Experience Store!

    1. Birthplace and current hometown: Minneapolis, MN

    2. Major(s)/Minor(s): Double Major in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineer and Mathematics

    3. When I grow up I want to… be a mad scientist… which will require me to get a perm.

    4. Favorite place to eat in Baltimore: Am I allowed to say Coldstone?  Okay, Coldstone it is.  I love banana and chocolate ice cream with almonds.

    5. Favorite spot on the Homewood campus

    6. Favorite TV show: 30 Rock

    7. Favorite color: Yellow

    8. Favorite sports team: I really don’t like sports, but my boyfriend is a fantasy basketball March Madness champion.  I have no idea what that means…

    My favorite baltimorean foods: crab chips, berger cookies, Carma's pink dalmations, and Zeke's coffee (charm city blend.)


    My Hopkins Experience:

    1. When did you know Hopkins was right for you?

    Although I applied ED, I can honestly say I wasn’t 100% sure if Hopkins was right to me on the day I signed me ED contract.  I sort of went with my gut, chose not to look back, and I haven’t.  However, I can say as a word of advice, don’t apply ED unless you really feel that is the right choice.  It’s a huge commitment, so make sure your gut is in it.  In terms of when I really realized Hopkins was the right choice, I can’t really pinpoint a day, or week.  I think it was at the tail end of freshmen year.  At first, there were obvious struggles, especially adjusting to being so far away from home.  This semester especially has been absolutely amazing, and I am so happy I am studying at Hopkins and really looking forward to my last four semesters here.

    2. What is one thing that would surprise your friends/family about Hopkins?

    Honestly, back in the ‘ol midwest, a lot of people are not familiar with the name Johns Hopkins.  People have honestly asked me if that’s in Illinois or something.  I really don’t think a lot of people realize the tremendous impact this university has on research and academics as a whole.

    3. If you were the University President, what is the first thing you would do or change?

    I would allow food on more levels in the library.  I’m sick of sneaking peanut m&ms in my purse.  However, I can brag and say I have eaten a whole burrito bowl on C level with out being caught by the snack police.

    4. If you could go back and choose your college again, would you pick Hopkins? Why?

    I really can’t imagine my college life anywhere else except Hopkins.  However, there are days I really wish I went to a party school.  You really do work very hard here, but it definitely pays off.

    5. What was your perception about Hopkins before enrolling and how has it changed since then?

    I think I didn’t really know much about Hopkins before I came here.  I’ve learned so much in these past two years.  I think I definitely knew about the prestige and rigor before becoming a student.  When you’re a student, you don’t really think about that stuff anymore.  Hopkins becomes Hopkins, your Hopkins, and you really don’t have this distant and disconnected perspective.  It’s where you live, eat, and breathe.  You’re really a part of it.

    My humble abode. The worm's name is Alexander. He was a gift from my sister. I have a lot of dirty spoons.


    6. What is/was your favorite class?

    I really enjoyed the last couple of math courses I have taken.  This semester I am taking Analysis 1, which is like relearning calculus but this time you have to prove everything!  It’s a lot of fun and a great mind game.

    7. Describe your funniest memory or experience at Hopkins:

    Ah!, so many!  There was one time we where up really late studying and JHU_Greco did this hilarious impression of our friend Nick’s mother, who is Italian.  We constantly try to get him to repeat it, but he wont’.

    8. How would your college experience be different if you hadn’t chosen Hopkins?

    I think if I hadn’t come to Hopkins, I would still be in the Midwest.  Moving far away has really helped me grow into a more independent person.

    9. What has your greatest contribution been during your time at Hopkins, or what do you hope to accomplish before graduation?

    I really don’t know if anything I’ve done has been considered a “great contribution.”  I guess I just want to continue blogging, in hopes that some prospective out there will read my blogs and really connect to what I am saying.

    10. What advice would you give to a high school senior choosing their college?

    Really do your research, but never doubt your gut.  I looked into a lot of schools, but in the end I knew Hopkins was the right choice.  I signed that ED contract, and I never looked back.  I couldn’t be happier.


    So these are my reasons for Why Hopkins.   I’ve hoped you have enjoyed learning a little more about me.

  4. Cream of Broccoli Soup

    September 28, 2010 by Cate W.

    It’s a bit overwhelming to think that the first month of the semester is over.  In my first month, I have officially not finished unpacking (my floor is covered in clothes and boxes), caught a violent and debilitating form of strep throat, which kept me in bed and out of class for 5 days, and, very successfully I might add, fallen behind in every single one of my classes.  Then my laptop decided it’s life was not worth living, so, I lost everything, including this blog, which I have now rewritten.

    As far as classes this semester, I am taking six.  I am going to list them, but not bore the world with their descriptions.  Maybe one day one or two will be featured in a blog, but this entry is going to scrape the surface of each one.  Anyways, I am taking Biochemistry, Engineering Thermodynamics (for ChemBE’s), Differential Equations, The Scientific Revolution, Complex Analysis, and a lab safety course.  So far they all seem to be going swimmingly, beyond the fact that I feel there are not enough hours in the day for me to get my work done, which is a bit of an issue.

    This year my sister moved to Ecuador. These are the islands at Cuicocha. So inspirational... In the words of Liz Lemon, "I want to go to there..."

    This is semester has really got me reflecting on exactly what am I hoping to get out of my Hopkins education, and, more importantly, what do I want to get out of the last sixty years of my life.  It’s as if my life is a piece of toast, where each corner are the disciplines to which I am trying to devote myself fully.  One corner represents chemical engineering, one corner represents pure mathematics, another represents my love for the humanities, and the last corner represents the essence of my personality (under my opinion); laziness, spontaneity, and indecisiveness.  Now, I am a blob of jelly, everything I can do and accomplish is represented by about a teaspoon.  No matter how thin I spread myself, I can’t seem to cover the toast.  Toast is just not very tasty when there isn’t enough jelly.  If I can’t increase the amount of jelly, my only option is to cut the toast.  But choosing how exactly to make the slice is difficult.

    I am finding that the same thoughts are running through my head as those that begin this summer.  Do I really want to be an engineer?  My thermodynamics professor always uses this recurring example of chemical engineers be responsible for engineering the system process that creates cream of broccoli soup.  Not only do I abhor canned cream of anything soup, but I am realizing this course focuses nothing on the statistical mechanics that may be associated with a more classical approach.  But I am coming to the understanding that is exactly what I want to learn.  I want to think about interaction of molecules, not chunks of broccoli.

    Often I find my classes rarely relate to each other, and my classes seem to cover the entire board of academia.  Pretty much my brain is all over the place.  I feel I am reaching a threshold of a line that defines useful knowledge from knowledge for the sake of knowledge.

    It wasn’t until last week that I begin to catch up on the reading for my history of science course on the Scientific Revolution.  As I sat in my study room deep down on C-level, I began to realize that these characters of the early modern era and myself are two in the same.  During the Scientific Revolution, natural philosophers were faced with an intellectual paradigm.  Would they continue to emulate to characters of antiquity, who sought knowledge for the sake of knowing why?  Or would they reform the way we would understand the natural world through empirical methods and through a mechanized and mathematical view of nature that searched for effective ways to vex nature into being useful for man?

    At the moment, I am unsure if knowing how to write an epsilon-delta proof will ever be useful or applicable to engineering.  In fact, I doubt it will be, but I continue to learn how to write them anyways.  I do it because I find mathematics beautiful.  But it’s not the plug and chug style of tedious computation, but rather the concept of a proof.

    There is something about a proof that is beautiful and in so many ways the epitome of perfect and absolute knowledge.  It takes something that often seems counterintuitive, cloudy to understanding, and through a series of logical and often cleverly organized statements brings to light something of absolute truth.  After those three little letters, QED, there exists a moment pure and ultimate transparency filled with surprise and awe at what can only be known as sheer eloquence.  Although they often seem simple, to conceive them is a whole other battle.  But I guess that’s a part of their beauty, something that seems inconceivable after only a few lines makes perfect sense.  These moments of clarity occur rarely in my life, so I relish in the moment of each and every one.

    Engineering on the other hand, is the epitome of how man makes knowledge useful.  Yet, every successive hour I spend in an engineering course, the more I realize I am loving it less and less.  Sometimes, I find it unbearable.  The problem sets are horrifically tedious, and the equations unpleasant and contrived in comparison to those of theoretical mathematics.

    However, this is just a step towards what I came to Hopkins to achieve.  I want to learn, but more importantly put my knowledge to some sort of use.  I want to do research.  I want to go to graduate school.  A large part of me doesn’t want to sell out to industry, but that isn’t a clear-cut part of the plan.  Chemical engineers do more than pump cream of broccoli soup through pipes, and sometimes I forget what these other options are.  I just have to remind myself to remember that there is a sea of options out there, and not all of them boil down to a can of soup.

    Learning how to not lose yourself in the height of stressful stretches of time has been, by far, one of the most challenging obstacles Hopkins has presented me.  But I’ve realized, when I look past the challenges, Hopkins has granted me a great gift in the form of an unknown passion.  Before Hopkins, I never imagined continuing onto to study mathematics in this great of depth.

    Maybe it’s not about learning how to not to lose yourself.  I really genuinely feel that Hopkins possesses this great mystical power, and if you just let it work its magic, you will find your passions in life.  Moreover, you will pursue them to the greatest degree, even if it means staying up past 4 am, and getting up for those 9 am lectures.  Sometimes there are unexpectated changes to the original plan, but in the end I think everyone finds a part of themselves that they had not known before.

    So I guess the dice rolled in a way to hand me a desire to pursue two polar opposites.  It’s a balance I have not really learned how to manage yet.  A part of me is still lost, waivering on this threshold of applicable and abstract knowledge.  Maybe this intellectual paradigm doesn’t need to shift just yet.  After all, it took nearly 250 years for the Scientific Revolution to change the way we practice science and look to understand the natural world, and I have only just begun my sophmore year…