Largest Class Ever
On June 3, 2005, forty-seven BCS undergraduates donned their caps and gowns marking not only their graduation, but also the largest undergraduate class in BCS history. The graduates, however, seemed unaware that they were making history. Some students struggled with caps that didn't fit and others forgot reading material to have on hand during the ceremony. One student had dyed, cut, and styled a graduation Barbie's hair to match her own.
Despite the pre-commencement antics, the Class of 2005 are a distinguished group. One of two MIT students to receive a Rhodes Scholarship this year is a Course 9 major, Laurel Yong-Hwa Lee. Laurel who hails from Bothell, Washington was also featured in Glamour Magazine's Top 10 College Women. Laurel received recognition based on her work with Mission Honduras in establishing centralized health care for orphanages and women's shelters in over eleven villages. She was also recognized for her summer research with the National Institutes of Health and spent four years as a varsity rower.
Three of Laurel's classmates received The Walle JH Nauta Award for Outstanding Research in Brain and Cognitive Sciences:
Nao Gamo from Killara, Australia
Kimberly Kempadoo from Hillcrest, NY
Shijun 'Cindy' Xi from Naperville, IL
Six more students from the Class of 2005 received The Hans-Lukas Teuber Award for Outstanding Academics in Brain and Cognitive Sciences:
Melanie Cornejo from Lima, Peru
Anna Holt from Lenexa, KS
Gargi Khare from North Wales, PA
Farhan Merali from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Sidharth Puram from Edina, MN
Lara Rogers from Puyallup, WA
BCS Department Head Mriganka Sur says that Brain and Cognitive Sciences "is the fastest-growing major at MIT." So what is it about BCS that continues to attract more and more students? The inherently multi-disciplinary nature of the Course 9 curriculum offers students a chance to apply neuroscience to overall themes of mind and body. Students are no doubt attracted to the diverse curriculum that is offered through the BCS department. But why did the largest class come this year as opposed to other years?
Jason Jacobson, Undergraduate Administrator, claims that "the field is growing at every level. A lot of the growth [of the undergraduate class] is just reflecting the growing interest in the field." He also cites the outgoing personality of this year's class as a contributing factor to the class size. The Class of 2005 organized a BCS undergraduate club and may have attracted more students to join the major.
One thing that did not contribute to the increased class size is the size of the student body. In fact, enrollment for MIT undergraduate programs decreased every year from fall 2000 (4258 undergrads) until fall 2003 (4112 undergrads) with a slight increase in enrollment this Fall (4136 undergrads). The decreasing enrollment means that not only are there more students majoring in BCS, but BCS now claims a larger percentage of the undergraduate population. With a growing field and expanding research at MIT, BCS is sure to continue to make a big impact within the undergraduate community.
What does the Class of 2005 plan to do after graduation? Many are off to medical or graduate school. At least two are teaching science. One is doing a start-up in Shanghai. Another is going to Yale Law and hopes to clerk for a Supreme Court Justice. Some will do research for one or two years before heading on to more school.
-Written for BCS by Cassandra Harris