Monday, May 21, 2018
Colleges

A taste of college, and the future, at FSU summer program

BY SOHINI LAHIRI

King High

My nerves were causing me to feel nauseated before I even hopped into the car. I was being shipped off by my parents for six weeks over the summer to Florida State University for some apparently prestigious program. Six weeks. It seemed it would be a lifetime before I would be able to kick back on my couch and watch the Friends marathon again. I wasn't sure if I would make any friends in Tallahassee, or if it'd be my turn to be the lonely outcast.

Of course back in April I was thrilled when I was accepted into the Young Scholars Program, a six-week summer session paid for by the state of Florida to immerse high school students in science, math and computer programming with a focus on scientific study. But as I dragged the last suitcase into Room 462 in Southgate dorm, I was filled with trepidation. My roommate, Sarah Nguyentran from Jacksonville, with whom I'd been matched because of our love of photography and happy life mantras, was late and I had to face the other 38 campers alone. With a sigh and gritted teeth, I headed for the common area.

The next six weeks were a transforming blur. From classes and research days to weekend trips, I evolved from intimidated nervous wreck into a person truly confident in my own skin.

Sarah and I became the best of friends, blasting music from our open door, singing duets in our room and climbing trees on Landis Green. My birthday included a surprise: My new comrades threw me into Legacy Fountain at midnight (a well-known campus tradition).

Late nights always included multiple food runs with our favorite counselors to Chubby's Chicken Fingers and More (open as late as 4 a.m. for those infamous party animals), CrepeVine and Taco Bell. All campers bonded over our distaste for mandatory dorm meetings, cafeteria food, grocery store runs and being shuttled around in big white vans.

Even more than what I was doing, though, I enjoyed the people I was with. Never before had I been exposed to a more self-motivated, accomplished group of people. Daniela Veloza from Tamarac was competing in the Junior World Olympics for swimming in Singapore. Jonathan Galka from Boca Raton and Preksha Bhag from Fort Lauderdale had both placed top five internationally at a science fair. A handful of people had scored perfect (if not, then close) scores on their SATs and everyone had high hopes for college and beyond.

I became fast friends with the entire camp. Scoping out new lunch spots every day. Scaring others on our floor. Doing arts and crafts. Bunking in the corner rooms with the kind of all-American sleepover types you saw in movies, their space always open for visitors. Romances flourished (and died out). The sportier kids were always organizing early-morning runs and trips to Leach Gym.

The contrast between my first day and last night was a world apart. On the last night of YSP, the campers and counselors congregated in the common room to watch a video of our time at Florida State. We went on our final food runs; a group of us bought ice cream from CVS, snuck into the life sciences building and threw it off the roof at 3 a.m. Kevin, Danielle Hu and I scared a couple dozen more people. Those who managed to stay awake took a bubble bath in Legacy Fountain at 5 a.m. We watched the sunrise over Southgate, then fell asleep for a few hours until our final goodbyes by noon.

After my summer experience, I still find it difficult sometimes to transition back to the "real world." It's strange walking into a class and not seeing my friends from YSP there to greet me. Or to go to the cafeteria without Jonathan by my side. Or to come home to a room that's bigger than my dorm space, but with no space for Sarah.

As my senior year gets under way, YSP is helping me plan my life as I see it in 20 years: surrounded again by a group of great and genuine people.

     
   
Comments
Taggart delivers a bolt to area

Taggart delivers a bolt to area

TAMPA — After spending four years as USF’s football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it’s no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," he sai...
Published: 05/20/18
Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

TAMPA – After spending four years as USF's football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it's no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," ...
Published: 05/20/18
ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

The ACC has released some kickoff and TV information for the first three weeks of the season:Week 1 (previously announced)Miami vs. LSU (in Arlington, Texas): Sunday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m., ABCVirginia Tech at Florida State: Monday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m., ESP...
Published: 05/18/18
Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Old, unofficial news is expected to become old, official news today with a formal announcement that Florida State and Boise State are kicking off the 2019 season in Jacksonville.  A lot has changed since the schools announced the series (FSU pla...
Published: 05/16/18
FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

What had been an open secret for months is now open and shut: Group of Five power Boise State will face FSU at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville in the teams' 2019 opener.A formal announcement is expected Wednesday, but the '19 schedule on Boise's offi...
Published: 05/15/18
RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

TAMPA — He’s the accidental pitcher who can’t be pigeonholed into a defined role. He’s a well-spoken economics major who morphs into fire-breathing intensity on the mound. And he’s one of the biggest reasons why the University of Tampa Spartans are p...
Published: 05/15/18
Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

One of the Florida Gators' top incoming recruits was released from jail early Wednesday after police allege he kicked a female's car and broke her phone after an argument.Justin Watkins — a four-star athlete from Clermont — and ...
Published: 05/10/18
Why Gators’ Dan Mullen still name-drops his second grade teacher

Why Gators’ Dan Mullen still name-drops his second grade teacher

When first-year Gators coach Dan Mullen spoke to a packed crowd at the Tampa Yacht and Country Club this winter, he told stories about the stars Florida fans recognize instantly.Tim Tebow. Steve Spurrier. Percy Harvin.Then he name-dropped someone els...
Published: 05/10/18
Florida Gators coordinator Todd Grantham to earn $1.39 million. Here are the other salaries

Florida Gators coordinator Todd Grantham to earn $1.39 million. Here are the other salaries

New Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will be one of the highest paid assistants in the country, earning $1.39 million in base pay this year.The Gators released the contracts for Grantham and the rest of Dan Mullen's staff on Tuesday aftern...
Published: 05/08/18
Why Dan Mullen wants his Gators to hit every school in Florida

Why Dan Mullen wants his Gators to hit every school in Florida

As the Florida Gators hit the road for the spring evaluation period, coach Dan Mullen has a goal."It's really important for me that we try to get into every school in the state of Florida," Mullen said Monday before a speech to the Polk County Gator ...
Published: 05/08/18