Miniterm 2011

Last week was the end of miniterm. Miniterm is a week and a half between 2nd and 3rd trimester where we do not take any formal classes. Instead, we take an intensive class on any topic we choose. We can even make our own course! Courses range from Animal Behavior to Cryptology, Aviation to Teen Movies. I created my own course with a group of friends called Psychological Disorders through Film. We watched 6 different movies based on various psychological disorders. We watched A Beautiful Mind, Sybil, Fight Club, Girl Interrupted, Identity, and Rain Man. After watching each movie we discussed the film and wrote an analysis about the disorder portrayed in the movie.

I had watched some of these movies before, but the discussions were very different. Rather than just talking about what was apparent, we dug deeper. My favorite part of each discussion was talking about how the other characters and the society treated the character with a psychological disorder. We realized that treatment had changed so much based on time period and that much of the change in treatment was due to our growing knowledge about the disorder.

Outside of “class time” I spent my times our in Durham, sleeping, or just relaxing with my friends. Since this is my senior year, I had a mission to make miniterm the best it could be. My friends and I made a bucket list of things to do during the 10 days and checked them off our list one by ones. Some of the things on our list were: have a girls night out, bake cookies in Hunt Kitchen (the common kitchen open to students), ride the DATA bus (the public bus system in Durham). We also went on visits to UNC and Duke to see our seniors from last year, and look at the schools. We had a “photo shoot” in Duke Gardens, tried out the local eateries near UNC and the list goes on and on. Some nights a group of friends sat outside on a blanket and talked while looking at the stars. All in all, this miniterm was truly amazing.

A phrase my friends and I kept repeating was, “This is why I love NCSSM.” And it was true. At NCSSM, we come for the education, but stay for the people. Even if we do something as simple as talking about our futures, the topics we cover are very different. Not better or worse, just different. Maybe a little more intellectual. Visiting Duke and UNC made me excited for college, but it also made me nervous. I worry that in college, I wont be able to find people like I have met here at NCSSM.


Peer Pressure

Ever since elementary school, I have learned that peer pressure is a bad thing. I was always told, “You should never give in to peer pressure. It only leads to trouble.” Then yesterday I learned something new.

At NCSSM we have a class called Senior Student Life 201 (juniors have 101). In order to receive credit we must attend seminars, in short, listen to several speeches about living a healthy and balanced life. Yesterday, I was not feeling it at all. Another speech? And the topic was on sleep, stress and drugs. I already knew I don’t get enough sleep, more than enough stress, and I didn’t plan on doing drugs ever. I decided that an unexcused absence was well worth the 30 extra minutes I would get to study for my Spanish test. But when 9:00 rolled around, one of my hall mates came knocking on my door to walk to student life together. Bless her... I really didn’t want to go. But somewhat ashamed to have thought about skipping I walked down with her.

Student life was actually a lot of fun this time. There were funny people in my class, which made the time more enjoyable, and I learned some new things. I learned that it is better to have a normal sleeping schedule rather than trying to “catch up on sleep” during the weekends. This extra sleep throws off your sleeping pattern and confuses the body, causing you to feel even more tired.

In the end, I was glad that I went to student life, and glad that my hall mate came and got me. Positive peer pressure. One of the things I enjoy about living with my friends and classmates is that we push each other to do the right thing and to give our best effort. Thanks Dee!



There is a disease common in senior students. This disease has a wide range of symptoms but the main symptom is a serious lack of motivation to do anything related to school. This disease is called senioritis.

As an underclassman I had always heard about this phenomenon, but could never understand it. Why would seniors, the students so close to graduation, stop caring about school? Why would seniors, the students who had had so much practice as students, not be able to find any motivation? How could you just give up like that? With this wonderment I started my senior year, determined to not let this infection crawl into my system. I would finish strong and push until the end.
Now I am halfway through my senior year. My college applications are done, my grades no longer affect my admission to college, I have all of my graduation requirements completed, and I will be done in less than 6 months! If I survived 12 years of school, 6 months are going to be a breeze. I just need to do enough to pass the rest of my classes and enjoy the last months of my high school career. Oh, so this is senioritis.

Lately I have been struggling to find motivation to stay focused on my schoolwork. While trying to find how I can motivate myself for a little longer, I have thought about how I have been motivated for so many years. Was it the fear of flunking out? Not really. The longing to go to a top-notch college? Not necessarily. I realized that my motivation came solely from the joy of learning. The excitement I get when I figure things out. This passion to be not only a student, but a scholar has kept me eager to finish all of my homework, go to class, and learn.

After realizing where my motivation comes from, I can now more easily push myself back to being the hardworking student. But with so many friends to spend time with and so many lasts, this isn’t the easiest task in the world.


College Applications

Weekends, especially Sundays are a day of college applications. Essays, transcripts, soul searching, legal forms, the list is endless. One time, I spent a whole weekend searching the web for addresses and making labels for teacher recommendations. I found myself thinking, “College better we worth it." All joking aside, college applications have been a large portion of my life lately.

Most of my time spent on college applications is the essays portion. Who knew it could take months to write the perfect 250 words? At first I found the process tedious and often frustrating. I thought the prompts were the most boring prompts and the admissions officers were just shooting themselves in the foot by assigning them because in the end they would be the ones reading the essays. But as I spent more time figuring out what to write about, I realized that these essays were for my benefit as much as they were for the admissions officers. Of course the whole point was “to show my personality and voice through writing so admissions could get to know me better,” but for me it has also been a time to get to know myself better. Some prompts ask me to give two words that describe myself others ask about the evolution of my academic interests. Wait what? I would never doubt knowing who I am, but I never had to explain myself, in words, to others so it has been quite a task.

While trying to eloquently describe myself in an essay is a long process, it has been an even longer process finding what about myself it is that I want the admissions officers to know. Do I want them to know me as a studious student? A fun student? A hardworking student?

Another common prompt is what my values are, how they formed and how they have changed throughout the years. Until recently I had never sat down and thought of my values. Of course I value life, humanity, integrity, justice as so on but what do I really value? This essay is one that I have yet to attack, but questions like these have helped me find out more about myself, and made me think about myself in tangible words. Maybe college essays aren’t all just torture.


Senior Year

Wow, senior year already?

A tradition at NCSSM is a ceremony called Convocation. All of the students dress in their best dresses, shirts and ties; and the faculty and staff dress in their academic regalia. We all gather in the auditorium and listen to speakers mark the official beginning of the year. All very formal. At my junior convocation, I remember feeling energized and challenged to do my best at a new school, but this year was different.

We had an amazing speaker, Geeta Patel, who spoke to us about finding what motivates and pulls us; everyone looked great; we had a fun filled reception; and pretty much everything was the same. Except afterwards, when the seniors gathered around with smudged make up and pajamas, we said, “that was our last convocation.” And then there was silence.
We finally realized that we really are seniors. And we finally realized what being a senior meant. We now had juniors that looked up to us, the stress of college applications, the excitement of near-freedom, and many other feelings. But we also had a sorrowful feeling. We realized that from here on out, everything and everyday would be a last.

Our conversation continued,
“When we graduate, we technically don’t have to go to school anymore.”
“Can you remember when we didn’t have to go to school? When we were 4?”

We realized that pretty much our whole lives were related to school and the feeling that technically we wouldn’t have to go anymore was in a way, scary! Of course all of the high-achieving NCSSM students will continue their educations, but it was still different. From here on out, everything was our choice. We chose which school to go to, what to major in, what to do during the summers, everything!

We then went on trying to cheer ourselves up. After all, we were now SENIORS!!! I hope senior year brings so much more fun and so many more new discoveries. I hope that the happy feelings will out number the nervous feelings. And I also hope, that this year is the longest year ever.



Although it has been a while since RECAP has ended, I have still been in the research process. Part of the program is writing a full research paper and now that I finished my part in the lab, I have to write up my results. I have been writing my paper, which has been kind of stressful, but I am learning the whole process.

Another part of RECAP was presenting our findings at the end of the 3 weeks. This presentation was in front of the other students, parents, and professors. I had never done anything like this before so I was extremely nervous. As I made my slides I didn’t know what parts to emphasize and which to just mention. As I tried to think of what to say my mind was always blank. Before the actual symposium I had a couple practice rounds but on the actually day, my hands would not stop shaking. I knew I didn’t want to read off of a prepared speech, so I only had ideas in my head. When I went up to do my presentation, I felt unusually calm. Then I turned around to face my audience... I wasn’t calm anymore. But I had to start anyways.

As I started the nerves started to go away. After my presentation it felt so rewarding. I had answered all of my questions and although the nerves showed in my speech because I had talked fast, I had delivered everything I had intended to. I am not sure if I enjoyed presenting, but I know that the feeling afterwards was very rewarding.

After everything, I learned that I really enjoy doing research and working in the lab. I also learned that one question leads to another and once you start, there are endless questions you want to learn more about. I want to keep researching in college so that has also been an important factor in my college search.


A Year of Memories_Junior-Senior Siblings

This NCSSM event happened earlier in the year, but it seems appropriate to write about it sooner than later.

For the past several years, the NCSSM student body has organized a senior-junior sibling program. The administrators have nothing to do with this, which makes the program kind of special. To make the mix diverse, juniors and seniors are paired with people of the opposite sex. The job of doing the pairings is passed down each year and the students interested have to fill out an “application” explain their likes and dislikes and interests.

My senior brother and I adopted (rather than paired) each other during the summer because we were both too lazy to fill out the application. We talked during the summer about what type of people we were, what we liked, how we had gotten along in school, and everything else. I told him how I was nervous about the school and he gave me tips and helpful advice. He told me how to arrange my schedule so I wouldn’t be overloaded with stress. We talked all summer via chat and quickly became siblings.

Then we moved in. At the first picnic dinner, we finally met each other in person, and boy was it awkward. It was weird how two people could talk about so much through the internet, but then have to learn to become friends in real life. But as we talked things quickly became normal and he dragged me around campus introducing me to all of his friends. We went out to lunch and he taught me the ins and outs of the school.

As school started we both became busy and didn’t keep in contact as much, but it was always nice knowing that there was someone you could go to. When I became home sick, he told me how my parents would always be there for me no matter where I lived. When exams rolled around, he cheered me on as I went through my textbooks.

He may not know this, but I really looked up to my senior brother last year. That is partly why I decided to be a part of the program this year. This year, I decided to not be lazy and actually apply. Today, I was given my junior brother. And like last year, we talked about schedules and the workload, and our future interests. It was a little awkward today since we were kind of thrown together, but I am excited for a fun year with my junior brother.

We’ll see what this year holds! Oh, and also, wish me luck! I have no idea what a senior sister is supposed to do!