MIT’s Money Mistakes
When you read the words “Boston” and “history,” what do you think of? For most folks, two events typically come to mind: 1) The Boston Tea Party, or 2) Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride (contrary to popular belief, he never actually shouted “The British are coming!”). Boston is often considered “the birthplace” of the American revolution: no first-time visit to Boston is complete without trekking the Freedom Trail.
Every year, I look forward to the annual Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) Fall Dinner. Not for the free food, open bar or rare opportunity to dress up (although they surely don’t hurt), but almost exclusively for the company. HST is a unique program that allows PhD, MD and MD-PhD students to take classes and conduct research together. While I love my classes, my favorite way to learn is truly through the high-octane conversations I’ve gotten to have with my classmates about their thoughts on lectures, their research or their favorite new Science article.
In the COVID-19 research ramp-up, one return-to-work guideline was hotly contested. Community members should remain seated while flushing to limit viral transmission. For a moment, my department was as obsessed with toilets as I was, although for different reasons.
"Can't believe you got it done with children! Good for you!" an old friend told me.
I received similar remarks from other people as they learned that I had applied, enrolled and now attend graduate school with two young toddlers; they applaud my ability to do so DESPITE motherhood. However, as I reflect on my journey to grad school, I know it is BECAUSE OF motherhood I am here today.
Being aware of the COVID-19 crisis in China and Italy, I found myself researching it and getting involved in conversations about it here in the US. Even before MIT sent out its first official announcement to shut down the campus, I was already working from home. A few days later, the official announcement followed and everyone else was asked to do the same. This was a relief to me since it was very obvious that some people around me hadn’t realized the seriousness of the situation yet.
That’s right, I confess: I am a serial class skipper. It all started in high school, when I discovered it was possible to learn a lot more about a subject if I studied the material during class instead of paying attention to the teacher. Of course, I couldn’t physically skip classes back then without getting into some serious trouble, but you’d be surprised how well a girl can hide a pair of earphones behind long hair.
The way I see it, a major part of being an “entitled millennial” is our personal conviction that we all have a message to share and a voice to be heard; its primary symptoms are the oversaturated podcast market and the unlimited supply of Instagram influencers. As a new graduate student at MIT with new inferiority complexes, a poetry habit, and a Middle Eastern-American identity crisis, I also was swayed by the opportunity to empower a community with personal anecdotes and eloquent adages. So, I searched for a platform.
For thousands of years, Inuit women celebrated womanhood and rites of passage by giving and receiving traditional markings. Two years ago, I received my tavluġun (chin tattoo) through a traditional Inuit hand poke method, where a needle is dipped into ink and then poked into the skin.
One of the most challenging tasks every family must undertake at some point in their lives is deciding what to watch together. One evening, the compromise for our family was Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix standup special, Homecoming King. It was a win-win: my immigrant parents got to see a young brown man rise to fame, and I got to hear relatable jokes on the trials and tribulations of growing up brown in America. As I laughed unabashedly through jokes about subtle racism in romance, school and beyond, my parents sat beside me looking amused but mostly confused.