That firm handshake, that 10-second elevator pitch, and that eulogy. These are all lessons I learned in Aspen from the forums that the 2016 cohort attended and the private sessions with the Bezos Scholars Program team.
All of these lessons are aspects that have been very important in the start of college for me. From meeting new people on my floor to introducing myself to professors, to even, introducing myself to prospective students here at the University of Connecticut— I always find myself returning to those lessons. Those lessons are what I stand up for; They represent the Farm to Fork Forum and Computer Science as a Common Language forum I attended at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
The Aspen Ideas Festival is a community of problem-solvers and analysts, and helped influence me to become both a problem-solver and analyst. I see myself trying to problem-solve everyday. Whether it be trying to program my Arduino board to unlock my door for me or cancel out units in a chemistry problem, I am always persistent to find the correct answers to the problems I encounter.
My Local Ideas Festival (LIF) was hAPPy School, which was a symposium of programming projects created by middle school and high school students. This year’s theme was “Make your community a better place,” and the projects that arose from the LIF ranged from apps that increased communication between school teachers and students’ parents to websites that taught people how to “quick-draw.”
I learned two things from running my LIF: 1) younger students actually have solutions that yield a similar result to what an adult would create. For example, the middle school students who created an app to increase parent and teacher communication made something very similar to the Remind app that allows teachers to communicate with their students by phone. It was projects like these that made me think, “If they can create a similar app at this age, imagine what they’ll create when they’re older.” 2) Younger students are focused on different problems than young adults and adults. Surprisingly, a lot of projects targeted cyber-bullying and charitable projects, like soup kitchens requesting food items or pairing families with abandoned dogs.
Currently, I am a freshman studying Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Connecticut (UConn). I am a tenor saxophone in the UConn marching band, a member of the Cyber Security Club, and a student worker in University Information Technology Services (UITS). I mainly tackle problems relating to email security and protecting @UConn.edu email addresses. I find the greatest satisfaction in doing this work, where I love solving a problem and helping users.
The Aspen Ideas Festival truly allowed me to interact with problem-solvers, as well as become one myself! Whether it be through tutoring friends in Calculus I or solving problems regarding users’ emails, the Aspen Ideas Festival and LIF have taught me that I love to solve everyday problems and ultimately help people everyday.