Ratnarajah Attends Yale Summer Enrichment Program
Yale Young Global Scholars Program
Posted on 11/03/2016
Dylan Ratnaraja

Yale University. 2 weeks. An unforgettable summer experience.

If youre looking to meet people from around the world and expand your curiosity in a business or STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), then YYGS is for you.

The program is broken down into six interdisciplinary pre-collegiate experiences: Politics, Law, & Economics (PLE), International Affairs & Security (IAS), Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship (TIE), Applied Science & Engineering (ASE), Biological & Biomedical Sciences (BBS), and Sustainability, Energy, & Environment (SEE). Check out the official website  http://globalscholars.yale.edu/sessions for specific dates. 

This past summer I had the opportunity to attend the BBS program, sharing ideas with some of the most creative science-oriented individuals around the world. During my two weeks at Yale, fun and enjoyment was merged with a rigorous curriculum.  A typical daily schedule consisted of a morning lecture by one of Yales esteemed professors followed by a discussion with a group of about 20 kids. The discussion sections were one of the most intriguing aspects of the camp, as it gave my peers and I the opportunity to present and debate their ideas and viewpoints on diverse topics -- ranging from that mornings lecture to Pokémon Go. After the lecture, discussion section, and lunch, I would then attend one of seven seminars. Prior to attending the camp, I was able to select my seminars based on my interests from a plethora of options. For instance, some of my seminars included “Experiments in Primate Intelligence” and “Kale: Superfood or Fad”. Each seminar was either taught by a Yale undergraduate student or graduate student and usually consisted of open-ended discussions and/or presentations. One of my favorite seminars was titled “Face to Face with Hoofed Mammals”, in which I was able to touch and examine real fossils from dinosaurs to Bison in the Geology Lab at Yale. After my seminar, I either had free time, dinner, or capstone project time. 

A capstone project can be defined as a process in which students pursue independent research on a question or problem of their choice, engage with the scholarly debates in the relevant disciplines, and - with the guidance of a faculty mentor - produce a substantial paper that reflects a deep understanding of the topic. Each student in the BBS program was put into groups of four to five and was instructed to present on a project based on their theme. My groups theme was Biodiversity & Ecology, and our capstone project was titled “Why Pandas Should be Left Alone to Die” (see me for more elaboration on this). The capstone project was designed to be as close to a real college assignment as possible, and thus we had to find scholarly articles backing our claims as well as cite our sources over the course of the whole camp.  After my group put together our presentation, we had to present our research project to a group of about 60 students as well as Yale faculty and graduate/undergraduate students on the second to last day of the camp. It was a truly incredible feeling to preach our argument - that took many hours to strengthen- and then received a standing ovation.

Aside from the great academics of the program though, the atmosphere at Yale and the charisma of all students was monumental and simply enjoyable. I was able to roam the New Haven area within a specific boundary anytime I was free before curfew. I was also able to eat all three meals anywhere I wanted, from one of the restaurants around Yale to the great dining hall.  I remember going to get sushi, frozen yogurt, smoothies, deep-dish pizza, Shake-shack burgers, or insomnia cookies with my roommates and friends on multiple occasions. Speaking of my roommates, I was put in a suite with 3 single rooms and a double.  The other suite on our floor consisted of four singles, and we all ended up being very close friends. My suitemates came from all over the world near and far, including China, California, India, Wisconsin, South Korea, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Oman. Im glad to have met them all, and we still keep in touch today. Another great social aspect of the program was something called family time. Each student was put into a “family” of about 15 kids and each “family” was led by a Yale undergraduate student. My family did a lot of different things like tour the secret spots of the campus, go out to eat, play mafia in one of Yales dance studios, or just unwind about our day. Other entertaining aspects were movie nights, a talent show, a 3 on 3 basketball tournament, spontaneous soccer games in the courtyard, late-night gamer talks, and the freedom to explore Yale at your leisure.

Lastly, YYGS is a selective academic program, but, regardless, the intricate application process proves to be a beneficial experience when the time for college applications comes. The application consists of an official transcript, two required teacher recommendation letters, test scores (optional), an activities section, and one 500 word essay and two 200 word responses. The application is very manageable, and if you have any further questions about applying or the program in general you should visit the website http://globalscholars.yale.edu/ or see me.

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