I had been to only one conference before attending BE program. I had the usual preparation before I embarked on my journey. Printed out the agenda, selected the workshops I was going to attend, learn as much as possible, meet new people, and come back with a report for my mentor. I still did all that at SIAM CSE. However, the BE program flipped the script- it wasn’t just a typical conference. Instead, we had fun while learning and we learned while having fun.
The most influential part of the program for me was the pathway to success workshop and paving the road ahead workshop. I had so many self-doubts regarding the career I wanted to pursue. I knew I want to be a physician scientist but being exposed to many different facets of science and technology made my vision blurry for a while. However, attending this workshop made me confident in the career path I wish to pursue and it also informed me of the pitfalls I could have on my way and how to deal with those pitfalls. I also love the guided affinity groups. Most of the sessions were very much advanced , and way beyond our knowledge, so attending the affinity groups help me make sense of the plenary speeches I attended. Attending conferences as an undergraduate is somewhat daunting because one feels ignorant about most of the speeches and topics discussed. The BE program changed the entire ball game. I can say every part of this program was influential: right from the orientation to the Google fiber field trip. It is rare that you go to a conference and come back feeling confident, visionary, and wanting to help others. It felt like home away from home.
I would participate in the program. Mary Ann is the major reason. I have never met her before attending this program. But over the course of 5 days, she has been very inspirational and selfless. She is someone I look up to because she is an emblem of what humanity is all about. Whenever she talks, she gives one hope about life and one’s journey in it. I actually used one of the talks I attended as an inspiration for my current research project and it has been going well.