Pre-College Learning: Q&A with program attendees


Natalie Martinez

Over the summer, junior Hampton Thompson and sophomore Michaela Wilcox attended the Harvard Academies program. Senior Carmela Pollina attended Vanderbilt University to learn about the biology of cancer.

Alena Gillespie, Web Editor-in-Chief

This past summer, sophomore Michaela Wilcox and junior Hampton Thompson attended Harvard University to participate in the Harvard Academies program. Wilcox was nominated by science teacher Mary Beth Summers to participate in topics on pre-med. Thompson, who was nominated by computer science teacher Lori Dowd, participated in the Entrepreneurship Business Academy, where his group won the contest of building a business. After applying online, senior Carmela Pollina attended a summer academy at Vanderbilt University where she learned about the biology of cancer. Wilcox, Thompson and Pollina attended the university for a week with other high schoolers.

Michaela Wilcox

What is the Harvard program? It is an academy or class. People from all over the world come. You learn about a different part of the topic. I learned about pre-med. So, you learn about the different things of pre-med and how to get into pre-med. We also got to tour Harvard’s campus and their med school. 

How many other students were there? Around 20. There were people going into freshman year to people going into senior year. 

What did a typical day look like? We would go in and they would have pastries or a breakfast. Then, we would do an icebreaker. They usually would have a lesson we would go through. We would have lunch. Some days it was a box lunch and other days we would get to go to a restaurant right on campus. They would then do another lesson or tour and a project. We had a genetic disease. At the end of the week, we presented our project about genetic disease. 

What was your favorite part of the experience? Getting to meet different people and the process of working with people you may not know because that is what would happen in a work setting. 

Would you do it again? Yes. I am planning on going back to the second one this summer. 

Hampton Thompson

What is the Harvard program? It is a business run by Harvard business students. It is the Harvard student association. They have a bunch of different programs: pre-med, business, and computer science. They get a bunch of guest speakers. It is a week of classes. 

How many other students were there? My class had about 30 people.

What did a typical day look like? I show up to class at 8:30 a.m. Then, I get out between 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Throughout the day, I would spend my time taking notes and listening to the mentor. I would go to lunch. Usually, we would walk around the campus with our student mentors. We ended up setting up a business. We would work on setting up our company and then do interviews around campus. 

What was your favorite part of the experience? My favorite part was definitely setting up my business with my team and then pitching it to investors and Harvard professors, as well as Harvard business students. Since I had to leave early, I found out that our team won the investment, while I was in the airport. 

Did you get a reward for winning? I would have got a medal, but I wasn’t there. I got a lot of pride. I am very proud of myself and my group because there were a lot of very smart and wise people. There were a lot of people with a lot of potential there. 

Carmela Pollina

What is the Vanderbilt program? This is a summer academy at Vanderbilt 

Were you on the Vanderbilt Campus? Yes, I stayed on campus in the dorms. 

How many other students were there? They were from all over the world. There were about 100 people there. 

What did a typical day look like? We would wake up at 7 a.m. and then go to classes. It was basically a normal school day. 

What did you do while you were there? I took a class on the biology of cancer. I learned how cancer comes about and statistics on how effective it is. 

Do you have an interest in biology as a career? I hope to go into the medical field.