Student hones future at Ivy League conference
Peotone High School sophomore Kelsey Presto went to Harvard last summer. While it was just for a weekend to attend the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders, hosted by the Harvard-based National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists in the Boston area, Presto heard from some of the world's greatest scientific minds at the elite gathering. "It's an experience you can't match," principal Craig Fantin said. "An opportunity like that certainly has the potential to motivate her to lean toward that type of career as she goes through high school and, hopefully, maintain those same aspirations when she goes to college." Described by her chemistry teacher Nicole Phelps as "an extremely hardworking, dedicated student who has a deep knowledge of science and is always asking questions," Presto stepped out of chemistry class to answer a few questions — after taking notes, of course. Why science? What makes it so interesting to you? I like the forensics. I really want to get into that. Actually, watching TV shows such as "NCIS" and "Law & Order SVU" is what sparked my interest in the field. What was it like to represent Peotone High School at Harvard? It was really cool because, coming from such a small town, I got to meet people from all over the place. It was interesting to hear their perspectives. It wasn't really intimidating, but no one had ever heard of Peotone, Ill. What was it like to be around so many like-minded peers? It was nerve-wracking at first, but we were all just interested in the same things so it was cool to meet people my age with similar mindsets. How did you react when you found out you were nominated by a teacher as a freshman and selected to attend the conference? It was a big surprise. Even though the topics might not be exactly what I'm going into because it wasn't just about forensics, I knew it would be a really good opportunity. What was a favorite part? One of the speakers told us about spending an entire summer as a kid looking for a new molecule. That's all he did. While I would never want to do that, he was 13 when he did it so that was pretty cool to hear. How did listening to and learning from some of the top minds in science impact you now and your aspirations for the future? I realized I am interested in it for sure, because I was interested in everything they had to say. It assured me that I wanted to do something in science and work to keep my 4.0 GPA. Your dad traveled with you. What did he think about the conference? Since he had to sit in the back, whenever I came out he would say, "I even found that interesting." Well, that's because it was. So what's up this summer? Going to check out Stanford or Yale? I was thinking I actually might want to look at Stanford or Yale. I don't know that I'm interested in Harvard, but I guess I'll have to check out the rivals now.
How Asian American Studies at Penn stacks up against programs across the Ivy League
Credit: Haley Suh On Penn's campus, the topic of Asian-American studies and the importance of the program has grown increasingly prevalent throughout the past year. Since Grace Kao, former longtime director of the Asian American Studies Program,left to join the faculty at Yale University, protests and efforts to secure the survival of the program have persisted on campus. The program, which Kao helped establish two decades ago and which is now left without a formal director, has also lobbied for funding, support, and more teaching space for courses. The ASAM program at Penn, however, is not unique in its struggle. Across the Ivy League, institutions have largely struggled to institute structured Asian-American studies programs as well. Penn and Cornell University are the only Ivies currently offering an independent Asian-American studies minor. Princeton University recently announced the creation of a certificate (the equivalent of a minor) in Asian-American studies, which will be offered for the first time in fall 2018. Derek Chang, director of Cornell’s AAS program, said that the lack of programming and lack of attention paid to Asian-American studies across the Ivy League is not unique. "Given their resources, it would be nice if [the Ivies] took leadership,” Chang said. RELATED: Students and faculty are fighting to keep Asian-American studies alive. They say administrators aren't helping. Inside the year-long battle to preserve Penn's Asian American Studies program He added that Cornell is in the process of hiring a new tenured faculty member for the program. He accredited Cornell's decision to start the hiring process to the students who advocated for the hiring of more professors specializing in Asian-American studies. Anne Cheng, the director of Princeton's American Studies program and an English professor, said the program's expansion also was sparked by student protests and the formulation of a task force to promote Asian-American studies. Credit: Gillian Diebold At Yale, Mary Lui, a professor in American Studies and History, said there are plans to offer more Asian-American studies classes and find more professors to help guide the program. Kao, now the faculty director of Education Studies and the director of the Center for Empirical Research on Stratification and Inequality, said she may teach courses in Asian-American studies as well. “It’s really not possible to have a deep understanding of U.S. society, race, and migration without understanding this population,” Kao said. “It’s an incomplete picture.” Brown University does not offer any set programs for concentrating (Brown's equivalent of a major) in Asian-American studies. However, students may take courses or choose to concentrate in Ethnic Studies or American Studies with an Asian-American focus, or they may choose to set up their own independent concentration. Other Ivies offer a range of courses in Asian-American studies, but lack a formal minor. Dartmouth College's Asian-American studies website states that the school is in the process of developing an Asian-American studies minor under the Asian Studies program. ASAM Undergraduate Advisory Board member and College senior Lindsey Lui said there have been few advances since last year when College Dean Steven Fluharty agreed to put out an advertisement to hire an Asian-American studies lecturer for three years. While program leaders fought for the hiring of a tenured professor, English professor and former Director of the ASAM program Josephine Park said there was a compromise with administrators to instead hire a temporary lecturer. Park added that the lecturer would likely be teaching courses by next fall. Although ASAM leaders said administrators have been open to listening to their concerns, students and professors remain frustrated with the lack of action. “Administrators may believe they’re giving attention to these programs, but you have to give these programs four times as much attention and support because they’re systematically depressed,” Lui said. Kao, who advocated for a stronger ASAM program at Penn for over 20 years, said the decision to leave was primarily affected by the resources Yale offered, but also by the administration's lack of cooperation in expanding Penn's program. “Over the last 10 years or so, there hasn’t been much growth in terms of the resources given to the program,” Kao said. “It was very disheartening after a long time.” The last time the ASAM board was in contact with administrators was on Nov. 13 with College of Arts and Sciences Dean Paul Sniegowski, and they are currently waiting for a response from Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Steven Fluharty, who the board emailed on Dec. 21, nearly a month ago. “Students should work together. There is power in critical mass,” Cheng said. “This is an issue for all of the Ivy League schools.”
College Connection: Ivy League summer program for high school students
High school students who are dreaming of attending an Ivy League school can have their dreams come true sooner than they planned. All eight Ivy League institutions are offering “pre-college” programs, including the three that are an easy commute for Central Jersey students: Princeton University, Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). Princeton University will be hosting a three-week Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG) program from July 22 through Aug. 11 on its iconic campus. Students ages 13 through 17 can choose from a wide variety of courses in Humanities, Math, Science, Technology, Visual & Performing Arts and Fitness & Recreation. The application deadline is May 15 and tuition ranges from $4,895 for commuters to $5,795 for residential students. READ: College Connection: Strategies to raise test scores, not anxiety levels UPenn in Philadelphia is offering a choice of two-week Penn Summer Prep Programs. Session A runs from July 9 through July 21, while Session B runs from July 23 through Aug. 4. During both sessions students attend one “module” for two-and-a-half hours in the morning, and another one for the same amount of time in the afternoon. Subject areas include: Science, Math, The Arts, Communication, Philosophy and English & Writing. The application deadline is May 1 and tuition ranges from $3,100 for commuters to $4,300 for residential students. READ: College Connection: With January SAT gone, all eyes on March Columbia University, in the heart of Manhattan, will be hosting a three- week “Summer Immersion: NYC pre-college program for high school students from July 17 through Aug. 3. More than 60 courses, in a dozen subject areas, will be offered including: Architecture, The Arts, Business & Economics, Creative Writing, Engineering & Computer Programming, Law & Conflict Resolution, Marketing, Media & Communications, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physical Sciences, Politics & International Affairs and Psychology & Social Sciences. The application deadline in March 15 and details regarding tuition and fees will be available in early February. Susan Alaimo (Photo: ~File) Students who want to experience an Ivy League education can get a jump start this summer, while delving into subject matter that may later help them choose their college major! Susan Alaimo is the founder and director of SAT Smart. For the past 25 years, SAT Smart’s Ivy League educated instructors have prepared students for the PSAT/SAT/ACT exams with preparation courses and private tutoring throughout Central Jersey. SAT Smart also offers private tutoring for subject tests, AP courses, and all high school subjects. Visit www.SATsmart.com, or call 908-369-5362.