On The Way Out

Hey guys! Sorry I’m getting this to you a bit later than normal.

This week, I sat down with some seniors, to get an idea of what’s it’s like to be on your way out, and to get some unique perspectives from people who have been through the whole process here at Mudd. I interviewed Calvin Leung, a Math/Physics double major, Justis Allen, a CS major, and Ramonda Giddings, a Chemistry major, to try to get the perspectives from each.

Calvin Leung

Q: What’s your major?

A: “Math/Physics double major.”

Q: How has double majoring been?

A: “Well, the story behind that is I couldn’t choose between the two, so I decided to do both. I was going to cut down on one, but I never got around to it. I’m a procrastinator.”

Q: Do you know what you’re doing after graduation?

A: “I do, and I’m very lucky to know that at this early point. I’m going to spend a year in Vienna at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information doing experimental physics research with a pretty well known group in Vienna. I’m a big classical music fan, and that’s a big part of why I was attracted to this opportunity abroad. So I’m going to do that for a year, then I’m probably going to go off to graduate school. I’ve gotten some acceptances, and I haven’t picked where I’m going to go, but it’s a good decision to have to make, and that’s the plan after Vienna.

Q: How did you figure out what you’d do after you graduated?

A: “It was really a combination of things that I did over the past few summers. The last few summers I did a number of things from research to industry. I was definitely more attracted to the research life, I found the environment very inviting, and the attitude of problem solving to be really fun. I felt less invited in the industry, so I decided that research was the right side for me. I fit into the environment very well.”

Q: What advice would you give students (or potential students) coming into Mudd?

A: “I know this has been said many many times before, but probably the one most important thing to do is to go to office hours and get to know your professors, I’m going to reiterate that because of how important it is. By a number of metrics you could probably measure me as a pretty successful student. I attribute pretty much all of that success to getting to know my professors one on one, and really engaging them in intellectual discourse. I think that gets you singled out, in a good way, and can lead to a number of opportunities becoming available that otherwise would not.”

Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned at Mudd?

A: “One that I’ve definitely been appreciative of, and that I didn’t have at high school, so you could say I learned it at Harvey Mudd, is being able to interact with and form a relationship with professors around me, personally. So, like, my mentor and friend, Professor Donnelly in Physics. I was initially just a freshman in one of his classes. And I was really struggling in one of his classes, but I eventually got through it. And I wanted to take some more classes with him, he seemed like a really cool person, and was really helpful. We eventually started a research project together, which went to publication. I got to know him a lot better, through this nominally intellectual process, but also just from talking and chatting with him all the time. He invited his entire research group to his house for cookies, and we played Cards Against Humanity, and had a really good time. So I’m really glad I got to know a lot of my professors like this, and I think that’s something that’s special about Harvey Mudd, and something you won’t get at a lot of other institutions.”

Ramonda Giddings

Q: What’s your major?

A: “I’m a Chemistry major.”

Q: Do you know what you’re doing after graduation?

A: “No I do not.”

Q: How do you go about figuring out what you might want to do?

A: “I think it’s very different for a lot of different people. Some people know that they want to go to grad school, and some people know that they want a job, or a certain kind of job, so they’re able to apply the job, and find out specifically what they want to do. Other people like me aren’t sure what they want to do, but they’re sure that they don’t want to go to grad school, and are trying to figure out what kind of employment is ideal.”

Q: Do you have any idea what you want to do at all?

A: “I’m pretty open to a lot of different things, but right now I’m just trying to figure out what I’d be happy doing. To me that’s more important than just finding a job, even if it’s not something that’s well paying or in service to society, quote unquote, I want something that I’d be happy doing.”

Q: What advice would you give students (or potential students) coming into Mudd?

A: “I have a lot of things that I’d recommend to students coming into Mudd. I think a lot of people get caught up in the future instead of living in the moment. I think a lot of people come to Mudd because of return on investment, or they know they can get a good job, or get a good education, and that will see them far into the future. But I think, what I’ve learned, and what was most beneficial to my college experience were the moments where I was living in the moment, and taking advantage of opportunities in front of me right now instead of thinking too much about the future. And so, yeah, I’d advise people to live in the moment, and not worry too much about the future.”

Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned at Mudd (if it’s any different than the last answer)?

A: “Yeah, I think that kinda comes from the last answer. But I think it’s also trying new things. I think that’s a way- OK, so people always say ‘Live in the moment’, but nobody knows what that means, because whenever you’re in the moment, you always think ‘I’m definitely in the moment’. I think it’s like seeing opportunities as they come at you, like take a chance, or do this thing, even if you don’t know what the outcome is going to be, just trying new things and seeing what you learn from them.

And be yourself!”

Justis Allen

Q: What’s your major?

A: “I’m a Computer Science major.”

Q: Do you know what you’re doing after graduation?

A: “I have a job with Google in the bay area as a software engineer.”

Q: How did you figure out what you’d do after you graduated?

A: “I think coming to Mudd, I was really interested in computer science, developing software for a living. I really liked Google at the time, because they seemed really… They didn’t have bad intentions with the software they were building for the world. And because they’re getting bigger and bigger, there are tons of different projects, so I’d have tons of different objects on projects to work on.”

Q: What advice would you give students (or potential students) coming into Mudd?

A: “Seriously consider why you’re choosing Harvey Mudd, Like, know it’s going to be a lot of work, and you’re not going to want to do it most of the time. But, if you want the experience of feeling like you’re dying every day, but then getting through that and feeling like you can overcome anything, Mudd is a great place for that. One thing that it’s maybe not so great at doing is actually educating students to critically analyze the impact of the work they’re doing on society. So if that’s something that you’re really interested, maybe consider other options.”

Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned at Mudd?

A: *Long pause* “I don’t know.”

A lot of stuff here. Each Mudder has a very different experience, and these are just a small selection of them. I know they’re all going to go off and do great things, even if they’re just great because they make them happy. If I can trust what alumni have said, making it at Mudd gives you the skills to make it a lot of places, but leaving and starting a new phase in life has to be hard too. See y’all soon.