A Summer at MIT
English and secondary education double major Hannah Jang ’16 spent her summer out of her comfort zone but close to home. Well, her college home anyway (Hannah has actually lived in three different countries—most recently, China).
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hannah worked closely with instructors and students as a residential teaching assistant (RTA) for a program organized by MIT’s Office of Engineering Outreach. The six-week Minority Introduction to Engineering and Sciences (MITES) program invites elite high school students from underrepresented communities to come explore their interest in science and engineering careers. Hannah performed the traditional duties of a TA, and also led girls during workshops, field trips and day-to-day dorm activities.
She reports that her position of leadership in this new environment taught her “to face uncomfortable and foreign situations without striking back and running away.” As an RTA, Hannah interacted with students from a variety of backgrounds, and found that her Diversity in U.S. Populations class, and other Gordon courses, prepared her to help students have hard conversations about racism, privilege and ethics. Her work with the English and Education Departments helped her not only understand her students better, but teach them effectively. Also, her training and experience at Gordon as a writing tutor positioned her well to help both native English speakers and English language learners in the MIT summer program revise class work and formal papers.
The summer was an opportunity for Hannah to encounter the realities of her future vocational. With days full of helping rewrite papers, grade assignments, and organize events, Hannah learned that living in an urban educational environment is about more than just administrative work. “As someone interested in urban education and as someone who is soon to leave Gordon’s protective environment,” she says, she found it “very different and lonely to live and work with people who did not share my faith and values.” But rather than retreating to her room, as the summer progressed Hannah found ways to deal with that tension. She discovered just how valuable “hearing about different people’s perspectives and learning amongst people who were eager to celebrate each other’s uniqueness and embrace diversity” can be.
By Hannah Wardell ’16, political science
Presidential Fellow, Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications