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Ready, set, go: Class of 2010 leaps into action

Freshman Tish Scolnik scrubs a jungle gym as part of the CityDays playground clean-up effort in Cambridge.
Freshman Tish Scolnik scrubs a jungle gym as part of the CityDays playground clean-up effort in Cambridge.
Photo / Donna Coveney
Zachary Bjornson
Zachary Bjornson

Tish Scolnik is one of 1,000 freshmen making their debut on campus this fall. The Class of 2010 comes from varied backgrounds and from all over the United States and the world to study at MIT. They have officially been here since Aug. 30, when orientation began.

Scolnik, of Waccabuc, N.Y., was expecting her courses, which started Sept. 6, to be a bit different than her first weeks, spent at the Freshman Leadership Program on Thompson Island in Boston Harbor and then at freshman orientation. "I have had a lot of fun these past weeks," Scolnik said.

With a planned schedule that includes joining the MIT-EMS ambulance corps and running for class council, Scolnik was realistic about what her academic future holds. "I see at least a couple of sleepless nights in my future," she said.

Still, Scolnik said she would not have it any other way. The passion she saw in the students was a large part of what drew her to MIT, she said. "Even if their interests are not the same as mine, it was their passion that really impressed me."

Freshman Zachary Bjornson is also planning a full plate at MIT. He is scheduled to take a full course load and also plans to enroll in an undergraduate research opportunity (UROP).

"I figured I might as well challenge myself since all the courses are pass/fail in freshman year," Bjornson said.

No stranger to challenges, the San Francisco native built a lab in his basement because he wanted to advance his school's science program at home. Stocked with a modified bioreactor and a $10,000 incubator he bought on eBay for $200, Bjornson's home lab was a good place for him to run experiments. Still, it was not without mishaps. A centrifuge he constructed in his lab broke apart and a piece flew across the room and hit his mother.

"No one was seriously injured," Bjornson said with a laugh.

While at MIT, he plans to continue his lab work. "I am really a hands-on learner," Bjornson said. "I have known my future was in science since the fifth grade. MIT seemed like an all-encompassing place."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 13, 2006 (download PDF).

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