I wrote this post on December 13, which meant two important things happened that day:

1. Nearly a thousand high school students started celebrating, as 748 of them have been given an offer of admission to Stanford’s class of 2018.

2. Meanwhile, thousands more Stanford students breathed a collective sigh of relief, as exams have finally concluded  and fall quarter is officially finished. Most of us are traveling home now. It’s a great time to get some much needed R&R, to see our parents and siblings and old friends, and to catch up on all my TV shows. (If you happen to travel through San Francisco’s airport on these holidays, the internet here is shockingly good for streaming—and it’s free!)

The holiday period is also an excellent time to consider summer programs – most of them have deadlines in January and February, so now’s the time to start!

Last summer I did a lot of stuff (honestly, probably too much.) For starters, I received a $6000 grant for doing research in the Bioengineering department under Prof. Manu Prakash. It was a ton of work, but I learned quite a lot during my first research experience!

Soldering can be fun!

Matthew Chen learns to solder as part of his research experience.

After working for ten weeks, I concluded my summer research with a poster presentation. I was nervous, but my partner Vander—also another sophomore—helped me get through it. Now that I’ve done research once, I’m looking forward to honing my skills next summer in another research experience.

Bioengineering Poster Presentation

Vander Harris and his research partner, Matthew, pose during their poster presentation.

I also took a short (3-week) summer class on organic chemistry as part of Stanford’s summer session. It wasn’t that fun, in all honesty, but I’m glad I did it because I got one more pre-med requirement out of the way.

The third thing I did was the most fun—being an RA (residential assistant) for the Stanford Summer Engineering Academy, or SSEA. I did SSEA the summer before I came to Stanford and loved it — if you’re one of the lucky 748 accepted students, be sure to think about it! It’s a month long program for encouraging diversity in engineering, and it gave me chance to meet over fifty students and literally dozens of famous engineering faculty who I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Plus, it was free, which really helped persuade my parents to let me go. This year, as an RA, I watched over six talented freshmen who are now well on their way to becoming Stanford engineers:


Pedro, Jesus, Hugo, Matthew, Alyssa, Ale, and Kirsten formed “Team Jamaica” during SSEA 2013!

Last summer was really fun! – but I did way too much stuff. Since I’m majoring in Computer Science (biocomputation, specifically) I think I’m going to spend the break working on my applications for a few CS internships. Here’s hoping it goes well!

Do you have any special plans over break? Planning to apply to anything at Stanford and want to know more about it? Let me know in the comments!


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