I am currently majoring in chemistry, but I want to double major in chemistry and psychology. After graduating from Stony Brook, I want to go to pharmacy school. This is my plan for now, but it may change. I love listening to music, watching movies, astronomy, reading, and mint chocolate chip milkshakes.
I was born in Yonkers, New York. I grew up in the Bronx, in a one-bedroom apartment five minutes from the Bronx Zoo, the Botanical Garden, and Fordham University. Almost three years after I was born, my mother gave birth to my brother Michael. By the time I was five years old, my parents were divorced. My mother worked hard to maintain her job and provide my brother and me with everything we needed. With the help of my grandparents, my mother was able to enroll me in Holy Cross School. When I was in the first grade my teacher Mrs. Diaz informed my mother that I was having trouble reading. My mother quickly responded to the situation by forcing me to read short stories from Highlights magazines every night. At the time, reading was the worst form of torture for me. Eventually my reading improved, and I forgave my mother. Even though I struggled with reading, I was able to do well in all subjects each year. My two best years at Holy Cross School were when I was in the fifth and sixth grade. When I began the fifth grade my instructor Mr. Medina explained that he was a hard teacher and that no one had ever achieved an average of 95 in his class. My mother and I took this as a challenge. I worked and studied very hard with the goal of a high average in mind. When my mother received my report card for that marking period, she was overjoyed to see that I had accomplished my goal and had gotten no grade lower than a 95 in any subject. My sixth grade experience was completely new and unexpected. For the first time, I was changing classes every 45 minutes and being taught by six teachers. I really enjoyed having different instructors for different subjects because each teacher used distinct methods to help the class learn the material thoroughly. For example, Ms. Watts was my science teacher. As soon as we entered that class, her chalkboards were covered with notes and class work that needed to be copied and done by the conclusion of the period. I quickly learned to write fast and stay focused. One day I chose to not to give the class my full attention and I was only able to finish half of the work that needed to be done. Although this class was far from my favorite, I soon realized it was my best subject. I was able to understand the concepts and ideas with ease. I did not have to devote long hours to prepare for exams; simply reading over notes and questions once was more than enough.
In January 2003, my life seemed like it was ending. My mother told me we were moving and that after finishing the sixth grade I would be attending a new school. I cried and begged for days, but the decision had already been made. The two years I spent at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, I spent counting down until graduation. I didn't enjoy most of my classes. I hated my English class. My math class was excruciatingly boring because I had done all the material already. I was qualified for an honors math class, but the teacher thought it would be better to place me in the regular class. Eventually the teacher changed her mind. My absolute worst subject was social studies because I am terrible at American history. The only subject that made sense to me was science. Like Ms. Watts, my new teacher filled her chalkboards with notes and class work that I eagerly finished. Like before, good grades on exams came easily to me. I understood the material the first time it was taught and rarely needed to spend more than an hour studying the night before an exam. Eighth grade was basically the same as seventh except that I had learned to love English class and Mrs. Previdi. I discovered that I had a passion for reading and writing, and Mrs. Previdi helped me push myself to constantly improve both skills. I graduated the eighth grade with first honors, the English award, and a scholarship to St. Francis Preparatory School.
My four years of high school were my best academically so far. In my freshman year, my two hardest classes were my two favorite subjects: English and science. My English class was difficult because I was not used to writing analytical essays. I struggled to learn the skill but I enjoyed most of the works that we were required to read. I was very surprised when I had my first science class. My instructor Ms. Parzieli told us that the class was going to include half a semester of chemistry and half a semester of physics. I was immediately terrified because I knew that chemistry and physics were subjects that were taken by juniors and seniors, but then I saw it as a challenge to do well. At first, chemistry was a mystery to me. Thermodynamics and chemicals bonds were impossible. Then we started to learn about equilibrium, and I was able to understand the material and explain it to my classmates. This is when I knew I wanted to be a science major. I enjoyed the challenges my teacher presented and the satisfaction I felt once I was able to solve her intricate word problems. In my sophomore and junior year I took biology and chemistry. I achieved high marks in both classes with little effort. Then senior year I decided that I needed a new challenge so I chose to take A.P. Physics. I found what I wanted in that class. Mr. D'Antoni never gave an exam that I easily passed. I worked and studied for hours for his class. Most of the time, I had to go over the material several times to understand it. I was spending a lot of my free time asking my classmates to help me with assignments. Mr. D'Antoni taught me that it wasn't enough to understand the basics of force or magnetism or waves; he taught me to apply basic strategies in complex ways in order to solve detailed problems.
When I was applying to colleges, my dream schools were Columbia University and Fordham University. I wasn't sure what my career goal was but I knew that I wanted to major in a science. Stony Brook was third choice. I knew that it was a great school for research and science, but I really didn't want to go to school on Long Island. I never thought I would end up at Stony Brook so I didn't take the application very seriously. When I went through the supplement and saw that I fit the requirements for WISE, I just checked the box without researching the program. Obviously Columbia and Fordham didn't work out for me, and I truly believe it was for the best. I love being part of the WISE program. I took Chemistry 131 last semester and it challenged me. I studied more for chemistry than I had ever studied in my entire life. Now I am taking Chemistry 132, Chemistry 134, Biology 203, and Psychology 250 and they are all very demanding classes, but I like working hard for my grades.
I am excited about WSE 187 and my specific rotations. I first heard about the Laser Teaching Center in my ITS class last semester. My TA Jenna George mentioned working in the LTC and said that she had a great experience. This led me to inquire about the research taking place in the LTC. When I took A.P. Physics, I enjoyed learning about optics. In Azure Hansen's biography she mentioned how optics and astrophysics can be combined to find planets outside of our solar system. I would be very interested in a project like this.
Ashley Guadalupe, February 2010