Reflective essay: RISEs Summer Bridge Experience By: Angélica M. González-Sánchez When I decided to apply to the RISE program by entering the Summer Bridge, I never thoughtthat it would be such a remarkable experience. At first, I was really scared because I would have to be outof home for a long time, like I have never done before. I was also intimidated by the tons of work that theprofessors told us that we would have to do, as well as by the competitiveness of getting chosen to still bein the RISE program by the end of the summer. Getting adapted to a new home and to university lifewasn’t easy at first, but then, when I started to know the other students who were also entering theprogram I saw in them my own reflection, all the fear, the insecurity, but –at the same time- all the faith,the passion for work and all the friendship to give. That was when I understood what the RISE program isreally about: getting potential young scientist prepared for all the situations that they can find on researchlife so that they can feel confident and enhance themselves in the scientific community. The first week can be summarized as the week of acquaint because we got familiarized witheverything: the houses, our housemates, the chaperones, our professors, the campus and with universitylife as a whole. We also got to some workshops with various professors between which was ProfessorElena González, Ph. D. These workshops taught us about important technological skills. Then, after theworkshops, since it was a requirement of the Summer Bridge, we started taking a course of IntroductoryBiology (BIOL 3095) which was taught by Professor Eneida Díaz, Ph.D. This course was mainly about allthe essential terms and topics on Biology. It continued developing in complexity, form the simplestconcepts to the hardest ones, until the end of the summer. This course resulted quite interesting because,since Biology is the study of life and we are alive, it has some kind of direct relationship with us. I alsothink that this course is very useful because it gives us a broad knowledge about the processes of life,which helps us understand almost everything alive that surrounds us as well as ourselves. While taking the Biology class in the mornings, we were also taking a Biology Lab class, but in theafternoons. This one was taken with Professor Edwin Vázquez, P.h.D. In this lab we were able to apply allthe knowledge we learned in Biology and, that way, we got to see some of the most amazing and complexprocesses of this discipline. I really enjoyed getting to use some lab equipment that I haven’t even seenbefore in my life and, most importantly, to use those instruments to achieve the lab procedures. As part ofthe Lab course curriculum, we were asked to write a research proposal and to present it to a panel ofstudents and professors. The creation of this proposal was meaningful; it took many hours of sleep awayfrom us, along with the other hours that the biology tests required to study well. On the other hand, all ofthe sacrifices were satisfactory in the end because my proposal had a full acceptance and got me a goodgrade. The combination of all the hard work and organization finally paid off well because I got officiallyaccepted on the selected RISE program, for which I can say that this was one of the most enrichingsummers of my life. Although most of our work in the RISE program was to study and make homework, there was alsotime to go out and to share. First, as part of our Biology class, we went with Professor Robert Ross, Ph. D.to study trips to El Yunque, Guánica’s Dry Forest and Ponce’s School of Medicine. On these study trips wegot descriptive tours on each of the locations, collected data for our lab projects, got conferences andshared with our classmates, chaperones, professors and with other scientists. After each study trip, wehad to make reports, papers and reflections on them. These study trips were very enjoyable and unique tome because I have never gone before to none of the places we visited in the summer and because they gaveme a chance to observe further and to make analysis that I would have never done before if I haven’timproved my research skills.
One of the most significant things of this summer was the fact of living under the same roof witheight strangers and as immediate neighbors of 16 others, which then became just like family. At first, itwas hard adapting to the coexistence, because of our different manners and personalities, but then, whenwe got to know well each other very strong friendships, which still exist, surged. After a few weeks we evenorganized ourselves in teams for the cleansing of the house and helped each other with homework andtests. It can be said that this summer was even more amazing than what I already described because of thepeople in it, which are ones of the most amazing persons I’ve ever met. They were the ones who made mystressful days become a little lighter, making the road much easier. From our friendships and all theexperiences we lived together, is from where the memories, captured many times in mental pictures or intangible photos, come from. In conclusion, I can say that this Summer Bridge Experience was more than unforgettable; it wasa “once-in-a-lifetime” situation. This summer internship changed drastically the perspective that I had onlife because it opened my eyes to so many things that once were unknown. RISE has made me a moresociable person because it helped me cultivate some very strong friendships and relate to otherprofessionals in the Science field. As a freshman student, it has helped me to be more prepared for thebeginning of my university life because it has given me a head-start on everything related to it. In termsof a human being, this program has made me a more patient and effortful person because it showed methat, even when times seem to be hard, it is possible to do what you want if you really try your best. In theresearch area this program has been amazing for me because, first of all, it has helped me to be moreorganized. It has also made me develop useful lab skills and, last but not least, it has taught me whatresearch is all about and some methods to succeed in it. To conclude, I would say that the memories ofthis summer will last a lifetime because they will be reflected in the change it has made to myself bymaking me a better young scientist in all the senses of life. Each and every of the previously described experiences are available here in my electronicportfolio, for you to see them. Hope you enjoy them!