Jenny's D-PlanWhat's a D-Plan?
FallOn CampusFavorite Class: Sociology 001
I looked forward to this class every week, partly because of the professor and partly due to the content. We read books on a wide variety of topics, ranging from privilege and how it affects our interactions with others to restaurant kitchens and the hierarchies inherent in surgical residencies.
WinterOn CampusFavorite Class: Biology 013
Biol13 is structured so that you have to work as a group on difficult class problems and even on some exams, which was novel to me and pushed me to really understand the material. This class inspired me to pursue research (both off-campus and on-campus) related to genetics.
SpringOn CampusFavorite Class: The Body: The Nude in Western Visual Art
Although this class was daunting to me in the beginning, given that I had little to no experience in either Women's, Gender, and Sexuality or Art History, it was also one of the classes in which I became the most engaged in. For our final project, I investigated the history of allegories in Western art and why they were so often portrayed as women.
I interned at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA under Dr. Livingston. I explored the mechanism by which BRCA1 acts as a tumor suppressor. It was really rewarding to be able to apply what I had learned in Biol13, including specific procedures and techniques we had been tested on, to a real-life laboratory setting.
FallOn CampusFavorite Class: Organic Chemistry
This class is notorious for its difficulty, and I would not call it an easy class. Nonetheless, it was my favorite class because I loved Professor Jacobi, who has taught at Dartmouth for 22 years, and I appreciated learning mechanisms behind why certain reactions happen. Instead of rote memorization, this class relied on being able to predict the products of a reaction, a skill picked up from lots of practice.
WinterOn CampusFavorite Class: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Although this was an introductory class, Professor Craig made it more dynamic and interactive, with several visits to the Hood Museum of Art, ethnography labs, and weekly discussion posts. I learned about everything from the Gebusi culture and their rites of passage to the opioid epidemic. For my final paper, I conducted an ethnography studying the social dynamics that take place in Baker Lobby and how that relates to the exchange of capital.
SpringOn CampusFavorite Class: Introduction to Programming and Computation
Though I had taken four years of computer science before (mostly in middle school), I did not have a very good experience with coding prior to taking CS1. However, the professor was one of the best professors I have had, explaining jargon in understandable ways and even giving out chocolate bars to students who answered the most difficult questions she would ask in class. I was certain that there was no way I would be able to create the lab assignments (such as a revolving solar system animation and map of Dartmouth that calculated the shortest possible route between two points), but she enabled all of us to through exercises, short assignments, and exams.
SummerOn CampusFavorite Class: Sex, Gender, and Society
I took this class for a distributive requirement and ended up loving it. Each student was assigned a day to present on a certain topic - mine being patriarchy. I decided to analyze relationships in Crazy Rich Asians through a lens of the patriarchal bargain. We explored transgender issues, the history of feminism, gender identity, and so much more. Would highly recommend!
FallOn CampusFavorite Class: Sports Analytics
As someone who didn't know the rules to pretty much any sport, I tentatively signed up for this class. However, the professors made it clear that everyone had a different sports background, so I never felt at a disadvantage. We used Markov chains to predict winners of tennis matches, analyzed field goals kicks using logit models, and listened to guest speakers from a variety of industries.
I spent the winter at the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health, studying epidemiology and global health. I was first involved on a project using data surveillance and social media to model Ebola outbreaks in the DRC, but as soon as the COVID-19 outbreak started, I transitioned to that. I was even able to publish my first paper!
I was planning to study in Rome for the term and practice my basic Italian skills, but unfortunately the program was canceled. Instead of taking classes, I decided to continue working at my winter internship at NIH. Some of the research I conducted involved analyzing data on excess mortality as a method of estimating the true burden of COVID-19.
I continued my research at Fogarty while also working part-time as a Learning Fellow for BIOL13 (Gene Expression and Inheritance), a job I also did my sophomore summer. It was great to see some familiar faces and help with transitioning this very interactive class into something Zoom-friendly!
FallOn CampusFavorite Class: Design Thinking
I had heard about this class long before taking it my senior fall, as it's one of those quintessential Dartmouth classes. We had a total of six projects over ten weeks, many of which were group projects. They included everything from building rollercoasters, creating Photoshop posters to combat harmful misconceptions, and designing prototypes to improve student dorm life. I learned so much about what it means to design ethically and purposefully, and will definitely carry these lessons forward with me in my future endeavors.
Hobbies at Dartmouth vs. at Home
Besides just taking on new hobbies like embroidery and digital art, I've witnessed a transition in my hobbies at Dartmouth, as I've been living at home for almost eight months now.
- No. 1
Dartmouth PE Classes vs. Youtube Workouts
Deciding to take a PE class with my roommate in my freshman fall was one of the best choices! We got to bond a lot and held each other accountable to spend at least part of the week in an active way. Freshman year can be overwhelming so it’s important to take time to destress, in our case through a spin class. Now, I’ve resorted to finding YouTube videos to do the same.
- No. 2
Movie Nights vs. Zoom Convos
I loved to do movie nights with my friends, whether that was in someone’s dorm, common room, or the Hopkins Center for the Arts (tickets are only $5 for students!) Nowadays, we like to plan Zoom calls instead, to update each other on what’s going on in our lives and play virtual games like Code Names and Scribbio.
- No. 3
Concerts vs. Spotify Playlists
There are so many chances to listen to new music at Dartmouth, as they will invite artists for large concerts such as Green Key (the annual music concert weekend in the spring) and smaller weekly band playings. I’ve gotten to see MILCK, hippocampus, and Noah Kahan at Dartmouth, all for free. Obviously that’s not an option now, so it’s best to stick to making Spotify playlists instead.
Five of My Favorite Assignments
Since I'm not taking classes this term, I thought it would be fun to look back at five of my favorite assignments throughout the years.
- No. 1
Genetics Group Exam
I had never done or even heard about a group exam before this genetics class. In the first week of class, we were assigned to groups, with whom we worked on problems every class. I was pretty intimidated because I was just a freshman, but I loved having extra support from my group. During group exam weekends, we would meet in the library for chunks of time to solve open-ended and complex genetics questions. Fun fact: our group name was Blue Genes!
- No. 2
First-Year Seminar Project
For our final project, we were allowed to choose any topic related to the course - The Body and the Nude in Western Visual Art. I decided to delve into the personification of Western ideals, such as democracy, liberty, and justice, as female figures in artwork. I really loved learning more about famous paintings and sculptures I had known about all my life - like Liberty Leading the People, American Progress, and The Statue of Liberty.
- No. 3
In my class on Applied Multivariate Data Analysis, we also had the ability to choose our final project topic. With three other students, I worked on a project on the factors determining sentence length and severity for U.S. inmates surveyed in 2004, across both state and federal prisons. It was a great learning experience to apply analyses we had covered to our data.
If I Could Talk to My Younger Self...
...what would I say? It's a question that has been at the back of my mind as I've matured from a freshman to a senior, especially now that my sister is an incoming '24.
- No. 1
Take classes from many departments, especially ones that others rave about
While I have already gotten a taste of various departments outside of my typical scope of classes, such as Art History, Italian, and Government, there are still so many more classes that I wish I could take. Unfortunately, I have no space left in my schedule for classes that don’t count for my majors, but ENGS21 (Design Thinking), TUCK2 (Marketing), and PSYC23 (Social Psychology) are just a few of the courses I have in mind. If you have friends who strongly recommend a class for its content and/or professor, don't be afraid to add it to your classes, even if it's unrelated to your major!
- No. 2
Take your professor to Pine lunch
Dartmouth offers a special program whereby each student gets a voucher every term to take a professor out to lunch at Pine, a local restaurant on-campus. While I did do this once, I feel like I should have taken advantage of the chance to get to know my professors better over a free lunch. Also, if you’re worried about awkward silences, bring a friend! Professors are such a great resource for major advising, research, internships, and post-graduate plans.
- No. 3
Don’t be afraid to join clubs
In freshman year, I stuck to clubs related to my academic interests, and these were mostly informal. I wish I had explored a bit more by joining more structured clubs such as The Dartmouth or community serviced-focused clubs. Also, I was hesitant to start anything new in my sophomore or junior year, but it's never too late! These are a great way to meet more people, and if you don't really enjoy it, you can always stop going to meetings, so it's almost always a low-commitment situation.
Three Lessons I Learned This Year
It truthfully feels like I just arrived for First-Year Trips, walking around campus with a sense of disorientation at all the people and things around me.
- No. 1
It’s worth it to branch out
In the fall, I tried a lot of new things, including which classes I took. I enrolled in an introductory Italian language and art history course, both of which I loved! I took Spanish through middle and high school, but wasn’t particularly good at it, so I was nervous about testing my rusty language skills again. But I saw my Italian skills improve dramatically as the course of the term went by, in part due to the speaking drills held multiple times a week (which were conducted by a student instructor and with no grades). It was so much fun to learn new phrases, and class felt more like a discussion with friends than a formal lecture. I also learned a ton about Maria Montessori and her education system...
- No. 2
Let your friends introduce you to what they’re passionate about!
This winter, it was really nice because two of my close friends were interning at D.C., only a few metro stops away from my house. Even though I’d lived here for a long time, there are a lot of parts of the D.C. scene that I didn’t appreciate before. One of my friends was a sports fan, so he took us to an NBA game. We also went to the Kennedy Center for an orchestra performance, and I’d never been before! My other friend was more into art, so we made sure to hit up the most famous art museums and galleries. This sort of thing happens all the time at Dartmouth, but I really appreciated it away from Dartmouth as well. And this is also reciprocal, meaning you should show your friends your interests and passions!
- No. 3
Embrace change (and the unknown)
I feel like this one is a given, considering everything that’s happened this year. While I was hoping for a winter in D.C., a spring term in Rome, and a summer in Boston, let’s just say that that hasn’t happened. But I’m super grateful for my internship and the fact that I’m able to spend so much more time with my family than I thought was possible during college. I'm someone who identifies as an absolute change-hater, but looking for the bright side kept me optimistic. For example, I've really loved my internship at the Fogarty International Center, and I've gained a lot by being able to intern for more than the typical two months of an off-term. It's definitely changed the trajectory of my career plans and made me want to pursue a Master's in epidemiology!