Aspirations Award winners meet up at MIT preview weekend

Award Winners

More than 1,000 admitted "prefrosh" to MIT’s class of 2015 gathered on campus recently for 72 fun-filled, education-packed hours. Students came from across the country, and across the world for that matter, all eager to learn about this infamous institution and whether or not it would be a place to call home for the next four years. I found myself lost among the nearly 700 events held during all hours of the weekend; there was too little time and too much to do, a strikingly familiar mantra for students studying at MIT.

In any new and exciting environment, it is often the people we meet that make the experience the most worthwhile. MIT is all about culture: although diversity abounds, everyone is focused upon one true cause, the advancement of technology to improve our world. In the process, students at MIT study hard and play hard. As I conversed with some fellow prefrosh while waiting for lunch to be served, I glanced around the room and immediately recognized a unique green handbag with the NCWIT logo on the side and the phrase “Award Winner” neatly printed across the front. Then I looked up at the person to whom the bag was attached and immediately recognized the face of a fellow national award winner, Victoria Gunning. She and I are both planning to major in computer science (or Course 6) at MIT, and we shared many fun times together throughout the weekend as we explored the classrooms and student life.

Later that evening, Victoria and I attended a dinner held especially for girls interested in the Society of Women Engineers, or SWE. We knew we would be likely to find other NCWIT winners there, especially former winners now attending MIT. Indeed, we met Bianca Homberg and Grace Gee, whom we recognized from the national ceremony in Charlotte. Throughout the rest of the weekend, we enjoyed having fun together in the “MIT” way. Bianca and I enjoyed playing Mystery Hunt one late evening where we poured over mind puzzles and games with a small group, attempting to solve the riddle and accomplish the hunt.

The true merit of organizations like NCWIT is in the connections women make with other women. A familiar face in any new environment is often the most wonderful sight on earth, and I certainly benefited from seeing my fellow NCWITers this weekend. I have come to understand the tremendous value of associations of women – we have formed a coalition of support for ourselves and for others. We know who to turn to for help, and we are willing to give guidance to younger girls. Each and every one of us has something to share and gain from NCWIT – that’s why we’re so proud to be a part of this organization.

Beth Hadley is a winner of the national 2011 NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing, and she will be matriculating at MIT in the fall.