Hello, future SSTP students! I hope you are very excited for the adventure you’re going to have! Your summer will likely be very different from any other you’ve had yet.
To address one of your (or your parents’) first concerns, it is not scary to live on a college campus and take care of yourself on your own. It is actually a great way to prepare for living independently in college, as you have to do laundry and wake yourself up in the morning, but the resident assistants will take great care of you should you need anything. The RAs are fantastic college students who will be with you throughout your SSTP experience, accompanying you on activities and making sure you are having a good time. They are also downright great people. Therefore, no need to worry about dorm life!
Obviously, the lab experience is the biggest attraction of this program. I came to SSTP to find out if I want to consider a career in research. In my psychology lab, I worked primarily with a graduate student who worked very hard to make sure I was constantly learning. He had the courage and patience to try to teach me computer programming (that was a huge challenge). My lab mentor also offered me great advice and answered my questions. That’s a big hint: ask questions as much as possible! When it came time to create my abstract and poster, my mentor and grad student were great resources.
The SSTP schedule was busy to say the least. In a typical weekday at SSTP, I got up around 7:30 am, ate breakfast, and was at my lab by 9:00 am. Lab work was scheduled 9:00 am-4:00 pm, with an hour lunch break at noon. At 4:00 pm, I went back to Daum, the dormitory that you will stay in, and had some free time before supper around 5:15 pm. After supper, depending on the weekday, the group went to class with Dr. Lori Ihrig, listened to a presentation from a UIowa professor, or did an activity. Afterwards, we had more free time until floor check. Saturdays involved field trips to various locations, like a trampoline park and a baseball game, while Sundays were almost entirely free time.
My peers at SSTP were diverse and magnificent people. I made friends quickly and had the chance to get to know everyone. I am from a small town, so it was a new experience for me to be in a group with 38 other people who are smarter than I am. I had so much fun with them, whether we were having a movie night, playing ultimate frisbee or trivia (go Team Yoncé!), or at a waterpark, which was my favorite of the Saturday activities. Since the program is five weeks long, I had the chance to grow close to several people. I still connect with my SSTP friends on social media.
I’m glad I chose to go to SSTP and see all the opportunities that the University of Iowa has to offer. If you are considering SSTP, you should expect some challenges. That’s perfectly acceptable—researchers need to be able to solve difficult problems. If you are going to be a researcher, early experience is vital, and SSTP will introduce you to the inner workings of research. Come ready to learn and enjoy Iowa City!
– Sarah Cabeen, SSTP 2015
Sarah is a senior in high school from Clarinda, Iowa. She enjoys participating in band, tennis, theater, student council, cross country, TAG, and youth group. Her hobbies include reading and juggling. Sarah’s summer activities typically involve lifeguarding, teaching swim lessons, and playing tennis. Her favorite STEM subject is psychology.
Above: Mentor Ed Wasserman, Sarah Cabeen, and Graduate Student