A Personal Experience of Different Extracurricular Activities

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The numerous extracurricular activities that I have participated in throughout my High School and College careers have all impacted me in a variety of ways that have created the person I am today. Although the activities vary from piano practice, to an internship at a professional physics lab, to volunteering at a camp for adults with developmental disabilities, they have all impacted me indelibly in ways that even now I don’t fully realize.

The first experience I will discuss is my internship at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. While working at APL, I used a program called STK(Satellite Took Kit) to calculate how long a satellite would remain in the atmosphere depending on variables such as the mass of the satellite, its orbiting speed, and its altitude relative to earth’s surface. Once acquiring the information, I would put it all into an excel spreadsheet to list the data as well as showing graphs to showcase how the satellite lifetime would vary depending on the independent variable in the graph. However, the internship taught me more than how to use Microsoft Excel and STK. It showed me what working in a professional environment was like. I had to coordinate with other workers in the same department in order to exchange information and solve problems. It taught me quickly how to communicate efficiently yet politely in emails in order to get the job done the best way possible. The experience I received during the APL internship has been imperative in my communication skills for mentorships and job opportunities.

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During the summers of the past few years, I have volunteered at a summer camp for adults with developmental disabilities. This camp is called Camp GLOW. At Camp GLOW, which goes for a few weeks out of the summer, I “adult sit” the campers. I am responsible to make sure that the campers assigned to me receive any medications they need, are fed the right diet, that any mess they make be cleaned up, and of course, that they have a good time on their vacation. Primarily, being a companion at Camp GLOW has taught me patience. The campers are basically kids on the inside, and adults on the outside. They do all the thoughtless things that young children do (to varying degrees) but I can never let myself become exasperated or angry with them. I treat all the campers with love and respect and it shows in the relationships that I keep with them even in the years after they have been assigned to me.

Throughout my life, I have played the piano. I took lessons for 10+ years and partook in a number of competitions and exhibitions. This has taught me how to present in front of groups. Taking part in competitions and auditions taught me stage presence and how useful a skill it is. While most students dread the presentation parts of classes, I don’t mind them (I dare say that I actually enjoy presenting what I know to the class)!

Piano has also taught me another key lesson: knowing that some skills are developed over a very long time. This is a lesson that applies to far more than just piano and certainly applies to programming and working with computers. I realize that I have barely touched the surface of programming (even though I’d call myself proficient) whenever I talk to someone who has been in the field for 20 or more years. I mention a problem I’m having with some program and they generally recognize it immediately by pulling from their vast reservoirs of experience with programming. I know that my skills with programming and computers will progress with time, but pursuing them through UMBC will certainly speed the process.

The combination of all these experiences – which were all outside the classroom-, has impacted me far more profoundly than my education over the years. Although what I’ve learned has certainly given me an idea of where I am and where I can go, it is my experiences that define who I am and where I hope to go.

Works cited

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  4. Moreira, A., Ferreira, D., & Silva, M. J. (2014). Learning styles and strategies in programming: The case of novice programmers. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 51(4), 433-454.
  5. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.
  6. National Association of Colleges and Employers. (2017). The skills employers want in college graduates. Retrieved from
  7. Ramani, G., & Rangaswamy, J. (2015). Assessing the impact of extracurricular activities on students' soft skill development: A case study. Journal of Management Development, 34(7), 766-779.
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