Anna Li, PGSS 2016

Editor’s Note: Anna Li and Erica Wang both attended PGSS in 2016. Anna provided the following thoughts to Erica regarding her experience at PGSS. Anna is currently attending Carnegie Mellon University and majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Erica is a first-year student at Duke University, majoring in Economics and Chinese. The interview has been edited slightly for brevity. – Gwen Searer, PGSS 1987

Erica: What was it like, when you first arrived at PGSS?

 I was a little nervous. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle the workload. Leading up to Governor’s School, I had been taught to work independently, but the first night when we got physics homework, it was impossible to do alone. I ended up going downstairs to Donner Lounge, where it was oppressively hot, but we all worked together and got the work done.

Erica: What was one of the things that PGSS taught you?

Anna: Before PGSS, I was not the best at working in teams. I would do 90 percent of the work then heavily revise the remaining 10 percent [that my team members would do]. PGSS taught me to actually trust other people do the work. I no longer micromanage, and I am much more open to letting [my team members] contribute. PGSS also humbled me. I found that I had something to learn from each and every person in the group.

Erica: How else did Governor’s School prepare you for life after high school?

Anna: PGSS was like “mini-college”; everyone was from different places, but we still had enough in common to relate. We then transitioned from those shared experience to talk about things we didn’t have in common. In doing so, we were able to share experiences that we might take for granted in our hometowns. Prior to Governor’s School, I had never considered going into Computer Science, but now half of my major is Computer Science. I enjoy the [course]work.

Erica: What would you tell future participants about the PGSS experience?

Anna: Whether you come from a high school with lots of resources or whether you come from a school with fewer resources, you will get to explore new facets of science. You will collaborate with amazing professors (like Dr. Barry Luokkala), and you will do real research with real problems and real effects. And you’re going to make a lot of close friends.