Student Reflections

Get to know our students by name and story

What do students say about our programs?

"I’ve made a lot of friends here, which has been great because I don’t usually socialize that much. It’s usually hard to find people who have the same interests as me, but these people do and that’s been a great experience. I love being at Wash U. This school speaks for itself and is really prestigious. I like how connected the campus feels and that, in this program, you get a nice balance of structure and flexibility in the classroom. I used to view prestigious schools, and the thought of applying to one, as overwhelming. Now, after being in this program at Wash U, I feel like a prestigious school is attainable and within my reach."

-- Hasan Alais, PNP Institute student from Tucson, Arizona


"My favorite thing about the program was the collaborative environment here. It encouraged everyone to work together. When we did projects and labs, everyone was always willing to help, participate, and be engaged so this was a great experience for me. I also loved when we went on a field trip to the City Garden because we got to see how art and design relates with engineering and then discuss how that impacts a city."

-- Chantel Barua, Pre-Engineering Institute student from Boca Raton, Florida


"My experience with the Summer Scholars program has been a very eye-opening one. The courses are very challenging and fun. Not only did I grow academically in the program, but I also grew as person. The college seminars and workshops helped prepare me for college and to become a better person with time management & networking. The people I met also made this program unique because they were very friendly and supportive. It was great to work with these kind of people in a collaborative environment. I felt like the teachers and program assistants were always there to help us."

-- Bill Qian, High School Summer Scholar from Shanghai, China


"I decided to come back this year because the classes are really interesting and not like what you would get in a regular school setting. We focus more on creative thinking and the projects are more advanced. I like that because, instead of having to do everything exactly how the teacher says, we get to use our creativity to solve problems. I also really enjoyed the Group Think activities because we get to work in teams and it helps us practice communicating with people we don’t know so that we can get to know them. So, because of that, you get to make a lot of new friends."

-- Riya Bledsoe, Middle School Summer Challenge student from Ballwin, Missouri


"This program and people have been really supportive and made me feel confident in my ability to succeed."

--Janiya Dailey, Pre-Medical Institute student from Little Rock, Arkansas  

Reflection on the Young Leaders Institute

by Olivia Domansky

We were twisted together in a human knot. I felt my hands intertwined with theirs. We could feel the beaming sun radiate between our conjoined palms as we stopped at nothing to untangle ourselves while keeping hold of each other’s hands. We brainstormed different ways to work towards our goal. Some stepped over a peer’s arm, others crawled under, and sometimes, some attempted one of these methods and then chose to undo the action after recognizing a flaw in that movement. Some efforts worked, others failed, and yet we remained driven to free ourselves and each other, learning from every loss and gain. As every one of us successively straightened out, our faces lit up. Our energy was almost palpable.

The rush of excitement after finally untangling ourselves stuck with me for hours after and I couldn’t understand why. Why should a game resonate so deeply with me? It was just a game, wasn’t it? As I parsed through this experience, I realized that this model of solving our human knot is in many ways representative of what it takes to be a true and effective leader. I learned that the process of enacting change is cyclical and never ending: if a first attempt at policy change fails, don’t think of it as defeat. Rather, work with others and confront each obstacle as an opportunity to reflect, rethink, learn and improve, as we did when a certain movement proved ineffective. I learned that if you are passionate about something, even if it is just being determined to break a human knot, don’t give up. Keep driving forward, even when it seems that the knot, the issue at hand, is unsolvable. Perhaps a great leader should think of problems as a human knot, that with motivation and passion, can be solved.

Want to read more about students' experiences in our programs?

Read 2019 Reflections: A Collection of Student Essays