It is always nice to see the great things that SSTP students are doing today! Nina Butkovich attended SSTP in 2013 and Lazarina Butkovich attended in 2014. Both now attend the California Institute of Technology and study Chemical Engineering. Out of class, Nina engages herself in the Latino Club while Lazarina involves herself in the Chemical Engineering Club. When she has free time, Nina likes to write in Dwarvish and play the cello. Lazarina enjoys reading, painting, and playing the violin. Additionally, the sisters take fun in playing computer games. Looking ahead into the future, Nina and Lazarina both aspire to be chemical engineers working in the industry.
How has SSTP helped you prepare for college?
SSTP was extremely important in helping me prepare for college: top colleges recognize that high school students who participate in research programs are in general more willing to “go above and beyond” in the field they are passionate in – which is exactly what differentiates a good student from a fantastic student. Not only that, but the program helped show me the wide applications for material science, a field that I was not well aware of before. In fact, I became so interested in material science that I intend to take the material science track of Chemical Engineering, and this summer, I am hoping to work in a Caltech lab relating to the field.
SSTP helped me understand both the large amount of work required in research and the great excitement that comes when success at last occurs. It also taught me the importance of dedication and patience when working on extended projects. The collaboration in-lab during SSTP and the ability to think innovatively continue to help me at Caltech.
What was your favorite part of attending SSTP?
My favorite part of SSTP was the lab work itself. Although we initially met unexpected difficulties in our work (as should be expected of any research experience!), we were able to think through what had gone wrong and eventually come to a conclusion about how to prevent that problem in the future. Success after struggle is always a sweeter victory! Besides overcoming challenges, I liked how the lab results themselves were tangible. We created the polymer we used from scratch every experiment, sometimes further altering the polymer with other reactions, which sometimes made the polymer brittle or darker in color. From start to finish, I helped every step of the way, which made the project meaningful to me.
One of my favorite parts of SSTP was the people. It was wonderful spending time with all the other program participants, all of whom were very gifted, and it was also inspiring to learn from my lab mentor. At the poster session for the end of the program, I felt a wonderful sense of achievement at the work I had done over the summer, and seeing everyone else’s projects was very exciting.
The Butkovich sisters have also featured in the Caltech news article. Click here to read more!