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Back at Smith Again

Amirr Beathea, a rising 9th-grade student at the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School of Chicago, had such a successful experience as a participant in STEP UP (Summer Talent Exploration Program — Unleashing Potential), a week-long program for middle school girls, during summer 2006 that she returned this summer to take part in the Summer Science and Engineering Program. She wrote about her experience at Smith during her final week here in July.

Photo by Judith Roberge

My Time at Smith

By Amirr Beathea

It all started two years ago when I was in middle school, nothing more then a young 7th-grader in an all-girls school in Chicago. My advisor talked about a one-week trip to this great school called Smith College to attend the STEP UP program. The whole class was talking about it but I was unsure if I was going to apply. It came to the point when it was time to write the essays when my advisor forgot to tell the class one tiny important detail; that Smith was an “all-girls” school. When everyone heard “all-girl” they dropped out. Well, everyone except for nine girls, and I was one of those nine.

By the next month seven other girls and me were going to be on our way to Northampton for a week of success, leadership and growth. It was the first time I ever flew in a plane and my Mom was going to have a cow (she hates planes). My father couldn’t believe that daddy’s little girl was going out of town without him or my mother. (He really didn’t want me to go.) And before I knew it, I was unpacking and looking around my very own dorm room at Smith.          

On the first day me and the other STEP UP girls were so excited about what the day was going to be like. We were off to breakfast when we saw this large group of girls go into the dining hall before us. We were all asking, “Who are they? Why are they here?  Are they students?” Then our questions were answered by one of our staff members who said “You guys have it all wrong. They should be asking ‘who are you?’ and ‘why are you here?’” Then she explained that they were in a program called the Summer Science and Engineering Program, or SSEP, and how they were going to be there for a whole month and that there were even girls from my school there. From that point on I knew that I was going to apply for SSEP the next year.

The week I spent in the STEP UP Program went by so fast I learned so much, and I made new friends and got to know old ones. When the time came for us to leave I thought back on the time when I first arrived at Smith and I’d seen how much I changed from the first time I got there until it was time for me to leave. I changed so much, I had became something that I wasn’t before I left Chicago and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was yet, but I knew that I was going to figure it out. It was so hard to leave Smith. I had fallen in love with the school and the campus and the staff of the program.

It was time for the next school year to begin and I couldn’t think of anything but applying for SSEP for the next summer so I could see that wonderful school that I loved so much. Then the time came to apply for SSEP. I was so nervous about getting accepted. I wrote the entrance essay and got it approved a hundred times. After I sent my essay I prayed every night to get in.

One day I came home from school and saw a letter on the coffee table from “Smith College.” I jumped so high that I could have gone though the ceiling. I was so scared I didn’t know what to do so I decided to not open it. It haunted me all night until I woke up and finally opened the letter. I was accepted.

The time came so fast for me leave for Smith and my father again had problems with me leaving. Now, I have spent four weeks at Smith and here in my last week I know I’m going to miss it. I don’t know what I’m going to do for next year. I do know that Smith has helped me a lot in growing, getting to know new people, and preparing for college. Now I know what that something was that I had become when I first arrived here. I had somehow become a part of this great school. I wish I could stay just a little longer. I‘m going to miss this school so much and everyone here. But I will never forget my time here at Smith and hope that the other girls enjoyed it as much as I did.

There’s one thing that I know for sure: Smith College will be getting a college application from me come January 2011.


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