Harvey Mudd College’s annual Summer Institute Program (SI) is a two-week summer program that takes place in August where approximately 28 incoming freshmen participate.
This program seeks to select a diverse group of students and specifically aims on targeting underrepresented voices in STEM. The overall purpose of the program is to ease students’ transition into college. The program is divided into two areas. The academic side of the program is centered on having the students have an early start into Math 30B which is proof based Calculus. The leadership side of the program is led by The Office of Institutional Diversity and focuses on discussions revolving around identity and social justice.
However, this is simply a generic view of SI. Having participated in SI last summer, I have to say there is a deeper impact this program integrates that cannot be communicated through a detailed description of the activities and events the students participate in. I realized that the best part of choosing to participate in SI is the people I met and the close-knit community we built.
SI not only gave me a glimpse to how college life is like before starting school, but also how to manage one’s time and to appreciate the art of learning. Listening to Prof. Jacobsen’s passionate lectures every morning as he let us dive into his calculus from scratch form of approaching the subject ignited my love for the course. His enthusiasm and energy lit up the room and truly made us all feel welcomed. I learned how working in groups and collaborating with others can help us solve problems in a more diligent and efficient manner. Balancing homework with other activities helped me value teamwork and problem solving.
Leadership became an integral part of the experience as Dean Sumi’s workshops led us to explore a wide range of topics centered on social justice. This allowed me to understand the dynamic of our group and how we all could work together to understand our unique perspectives. Through my first year at Mudd I realized that the goal of these workshops was to encourage us to become leaders and educate others about the importance of integrating social justice into our STEM focused education. It is quite simple to become blinded by all the work throughout the years and lose sight of the impact our work has on society. Topics ranged from privilege, defining one’s identity to understanding imposter syndrome. With a wide range of topics, we learned more about one another as we respected each other’s views.
Every SI group will be unique as we learn how to educate ourselves and others about our own identities and differences. Even though only a small portion of incoming freshmen participate in SI each year, I believe as Mudders we should all educate ourselves about societal issues in order to help foster an inclusive community in Mudd where all voices are heard and valued.