I remember driving to the airport from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute of Technology on a warm night that was filled with emotion. The month long journey was finally over. Six of my friends and I were all but excited when the time came to go because of our incredible experience and each of us wish that it could have lasted just a little bit longer. Yet staring out the window of the van onto the fading campus in the distance brought a smile to my face. Although I was saddened to leave, I was somewhat relieved knowing that I had come to Virginia Tech and accomplished everything I had set out to do. All in all, the summer of 2009 was the best summer of my life. Leaving Virginia tech, made me think about how I got there and what I had accomplished. It all started sometime in May when I had decided to take a chance and commit another one of my summers to research. This time though, I wouldn’t conduct some boring high school science project, and spend eight hours a day in our high school laboratory. For that summer, I chose to go away for a month with six friends, each of whom would work alongside a college professor and conduct cutting edge research. We all knew that the task ahead was daunting, but we were confident enough to take a chance, while getting a little piece of the college life. One thing’s for sure, within a week of being at Virginia Tech, we realized that we may have slightly underestimated what we had gotten ourselves into. All of us were forced to learn new aspects of science, many of which aren’t taught in high school, some of the knowledge learned wasn’t even published in textbooks yet. My task was to recreate a human gene defect inside the genes of mice with the help of various genetic engineering techniques. A seemingly simple task for a college professor, but for a high school student, the task was all but simple. For one month, I stayed at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute of Technology and used their laboratories all in the hopes of achieving this goal. The success of my project would not only increase my understanding of genetics, but would help my professor tremendously in developing new techniques to fight obesity from the molecular level. One thing my professor didn’t mention was the fact that she failed three times when trying to complete this project herself, but of course, I didn’t find that out until much later for obvious reasons. A few moments after leaving Virginia Tech, the campus finally faded in the distance. I knew that there was a strong possibility that it was the last time I would see that amazing campus filled with memories. Yet as I turned around to see the road ahead all the sadness seemed to disappear. I faced the road ahead feeling accomplished and feeling excited. I no longer feared what college, and in fact I felt well prepared for it. In one year I will be graduating, and once again I will return to the college life. The high school chapter is almost over, and as Virginia Tech clearly demonstrated, a future filled with knowledge and excitement lies ahead. It’s amazing what can happen when you simply take a chance.
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