“Good morning everyone! Breakfast is ready!” I hear a voice call from outside my tent at 6:30 a.m. The air is crisp and still on this early January morning in the Mojave National Preserve.
Into the desert
We are about three hours outside of Los Angeles, California, but we are the only people within 10 miles of our base camp. Jess Pelaez, the founder and CEO of Blueprint Earth, has been up for the past hour. She has been checking to make sure our Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and Thermo-Hygro-Anemometers — which are used to calculate wind speed, humidity and air volume — are fully charged for our eight-hour expedition into the desert.
The second annual Mount Holyoke College Girls in Tech Conference (MHC GIT) took place March 5. The one-day event, founded in 2016 by Onji Bae ’17/18 and Hashma Shahid ’17, is dedicated to inspiring local high school students to explore technology through engineering and entrepreneurship. It included interactive programming, hardware workshops and talks by inspirational women who employ technology in a variety of fields. Participants also practiced public speaking, networked during lunch, brainstormed together and experienced the power of mentorship — high school students were paired with Mount Holyoke student mentors.
For many of my early years, I thought everyone experienced the world as I did. When I encounter certain stimulus, such as hearing the musical note A, it involuntarily elicits another seemingly unrelated sensation, such as seeing the color red. It wasn’t until I read about synesthesia in V. S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee’s book The Phantom of the Brain that I had a serious “Aha!” moment.
“That’s so interesting!”
I smile politely as yet another person reacts to finding out that I am a biology and film studies double major. I’ve always struggled with responding to that statement. It definitely is interesting—that’s why I’m studying the two! But for me, these two disciplines, which seem galaxies apart for some, simply use two different lenses to understand the world: one through a microscope, the other through a camera.
You might know that Mount Holyoke has been home to pioneers since its founding in 1837. But did you know it’s also the first women’s college to host a hackathon?