How one alum's EXP experience translated to college success

Sophie Kennedy '16 just completed her first year at University of Miami, where she is studying Marine Science. She recently reached out to Science teacher and EXP director Dr. Shani Peretz to share  with this year's EXP students the ways in which her participation in the Research Science Signature program at Peddie helped jump-start her college experience.

As the EXP students are getting ready to present their work and ship off to their labs this summer I just wanted to share how much EXP has helped me in college.

Since my first day in my intro to marine science lab, I immediately earned credibility when my professor asked how each student became interested in what they are studying and he learned that I had already done research. With that came experience in writing lab reports that my peers lacked. Most people got below a B and even a C on their first lab   ̶   I did not. I thank EXP for that. My TA also added that the majority of freshman and sophomores do not even have research experience or are offered research.

Sophie Kennedy scuba divingI then met Dr. Wanless who is the chairman of the Geology department and has been quoted in sea level rise articles throughout the year in some of the most popular magazines. He learned of my experience when I challenged his lecture on coral reef health with information from my research. Because of my experience he brought me to meet the mayor of Coral Gables while he presented on sea level rise, asked me to help with the CLEO (climate leadership engagement opportunities) Institute lectures on campus, and introduced me to other professors who offered me research in their labs after 45 minutes of talking about my EXP experience. Dr. Wanless also invited me to skip a series of intro classes to take his 200 level geology course that included fieldwork in New Mexico over spring break  ̶  the majority of the class were upperclassmen. I had little to no knowledge about geology but after teaching myself all the advanced research in EXP, teaching myself this was a no brainer.

In addition, one of the interns from my BIOS lab came to visit U Miami's marine school and asked me how my junior/ senior thesis project was coming. I had to explain to him that I was just a freshman and was in high school when I worked with him. He told me that he was presenting our research that he continued at the event in Maine this past March  ̶   he won best poster and will go on to present in Hawaii this summer.

Lastly, I applied to work on a similar project at BIOS this summer and they were so excited to have me come back that they gave me a huge scholarship to work there because my school is not included in their funding program. The majority of my marine science friends are not doing research this summer- mainly because the majority of programs are tailored to upperclassmen/ graduate students or kids with experience. I contribute my success at the college level to my EXP experience  ̶  I wouldn't be the student I am today without it. 

It's hard at first to backtrack into meaningless labs but even if you decide you don't want to work in the field that your lab is in this summer  ̶  the experience will prepare you for college beyond what you can imagine! I can't say that lab was the most enjoyable all the time  ̶  my lab reeked of dead fish and was over 90 degrees but man I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. I thought going into EXP that the actual research part of my experience would be the most useful. In fact the presentation, writing, and self teaching skills I developed contributed most to my success in all my subjects. Best of luck and make the most out of your experiences!