Riley DeBaecke spent part of the summer at the Syracuse University Summer College.
Why did you choose to participate in a summer program?
I chose to participate in a summer program because I wanted to do something meaningful with my summer. Participating in the Environmental Engineering program offered through the Syracuse University Summer College promised to help me achieve this goal. Enrolling in any summer program is beneficial to students, whether they realize the positive effects immediately or not. Not only did I gain knowledge of other cultures through social interaction with students from foreign countries, but I also continue to apply the knowledge I gained in this course to my everyday life. Additionally, I was able to live like a college student for two weeks – a small but enlightening glimpse into the self-sufficiency required for a successful college experience.
How did you decide which program was right for you?
I maintain a busy summer schedule, so I was only available within a short time frame. Among the programs available then were Social Media Strategy and Analytics, Creative Writing, and Environmental Design/Interior Design. I decided which program was right for me by asking myself, “Will this program teach me about relevant worldly issues? Will it teach me skills I might be able to use in my high school, college or adult careers?” To both of these questions I answered “yes” in favor of the Environmental Engineering program. Selecting the right program for you depends on your interests, life goals and the simple human desire to perpetually gain more knowledge.
What was a typical day in your summer program?
Once settled into Syracuse, I adopted a routine and followed it throughout the two-week program. I had class each day at 9 a.m., which meant I had to wake up, exercise, shower and eat breakfast by that time. Lectures in the lecture hall generally lasted from 9-11:45 a.m., after which my class went to lunch. The rest of the day would vary. We were given the freedom to complete engineering projects, presentations and papers, or we went on field trips. Field trips in this program were some of the best experiences of my life. They were entirely hands-on and provided great opportunities to bond with my classmates.
After classes ended each day, students had to use their time wisely – and studying had to come first. But there was plenty of time to hang out with friends and go to dinner, or even study with friends. This is a great opportunity to explore campus as well.
On weekends, we could go to Destiny USA mall, a waterpark, or even college visits in New York State – there were many opportunities to go off campus as well as participate in activities on campus. My friend and I even attended a 5K with our professor, where she ended up winning the raffle! Weekends were for having fun while also allowing time for academics, and there was plenty of time for both.
What was the most memorable moment of your summer?
The most memorable moment of my summer was definitely our field trip to nearby Tully Valley. We ventured into the fields and woods to examine mud boils, phenomena common in Tully Valley due to its high salt concentration and constant land movement. I loved learning about how local pollution of Tully Valley’s lakes has affected both its human and animal residents. My class truly bonded on this trip, in a spirit of adventure and helping the earth. I believe it is important for people to understand more about their environment, and attending this summer program certainly taught me a lot about it.
What advice do you have for teens looking at summer programs or camps?
Do something you love, or something that you’d like to learn more about. If you still can’t decide, enroll in a program involving a subject you are not as familiar with; it may surprise you by becoming your new passion in life. Use your resources well while you are there. Talk to college professors and admissions officers and utilize the school’s library resources. And most importantly, have fun!