Minds Matter Denver Student Reports on Harvard Summer Program

Silvia Popoca, currently a Junior at Denver's North High School, attended the Harvard Summer School's Secondary School Program this year, partially sponsored by the RMHUC.  Here is her report.

 Information about the RMHUC's partnership with Minds Matter Denver can be found on this page.

Silvia Popoca, center, with her MMD mentors Rachael Greenberg and Sean Rush

With the help of the Rocky Mountain Harvard University Club and Minds Matter, I had the amazing opportunity of spending my summer in Harvard. I have wanted to go to Harvard since I was ten years old, so being there for almost two months was truly a dream come true.

Being there was like being in a different world. I was able to meet new people, live the college experience, and learn many new things.  While I was there I took two classes: Law and Psychology and an Intro to Philosophy.  I wanted to become a criminal attorney, so naturally I liked my Law and Psychology class more.  In that class we learned a wide range of things from airport profiling to mass murders and the insanity defense.  I learned about things in criminal law that I never knew existed.  In addition, I met other people who were passionate about the same things as me which made the class even more rewarding.  One of the things I enjoyed the most about this class was my professor, Dr. Fersch.  He was wonderful in teaching the subject even if it was gruesome and uncomfortable at time.  He was very sarcastic and at times a bit rude but he was also funny and made the class a lot more engaging.

The other class I took was and Intro to Philosophy.  This class surprised me by being a lot more challenging than I expected.  The class was significantly smaller than my other class, so I had more opportunities to really get to know the professor, Andreas Teuber.  While Law and Psychology was all about learning how psychology worked in court, Philosophy was all about learning about different theories that nobody knows the answer to.  This is what made it more difficult for me. But as time passed, I was able to learn that just because there is not a definite answer doesn’t mean I don’t learn anything.  This class ultimately helped me understand beliefs I have that I never knew existed.  Even today, at school and at home I like to teach others about what I learned, so that they can too learn about things that they had never thought about.

The last thing that made this trip even more perfect was being able to meet new people.  Not only to go to class with them, but to also live with people who I had never met before.  I lived in a suite in Canaday with my four roommates.  We were all from different places from China to Maine, Florida, and California. I became the closest to Hannah who was from Maine.  She was almost the exact opposite from me being from the country and hating the city while I loved the city.  We still keep in touch.  I had the pleasure to spend a weekend at  her house in Maine with her family. She lived close to a forest, so it as amazing to be able to experience nature differently than in Denver, but yet still just as exhilarating.  While I was in Maine, I had the opportunity to go sailing.  I had never seen the ocean before, and it is something that I will never forget.  It was incredibly scary but exhilarating at the same time.

By the end of the program, I was also able to visit New York which was by far one of the best experiences I had all summer.  I was there from six in the morning to almost midnight.  By the end, I couldn’t feel my feet and my whole body ache from walking all day, but it was one of the best days of my life.  Even though I was ready to come back home to see my family, I didn’t want to leave.  I cannot express how thankful I am to everyone who helped me make this dream come true because if it wasn’t for them then I wouldn’t have had one of the best experiences of my life.  I really hope that I have the opportunity to go again one day, this time hopefully as a full time student.