On first glance, I probably did not seem to be a great fit for east campus. I was hopeless with power tools. I had no idea how to code or even assemble a computer. I’m not artistic. I’ve never been a risk-taker. And yet, second west (Putz) quickly became my home. During rush (back in those days) I was temporarily on third east and did my best to explore the other dorms but something kept bringing me back to all of the East Campus activities. It probably also helped that the residents of EC kept on giving me rides back from west campus on their rickshaws. There was no question that I wanted to live at East Campus for my entire time at MIT.
I became fast friends with the residents of Putz. I was amazed at how fast I was incorporated in the community there. We bonded over cooking in the kitchen, struggled over our p-sets together, and explored what Boston had to offer. If anyone was sick, there would always be someone checking on you and running to the store to get you OJ, tissues, or meds. Upperclassman put together semi-official tutoring sessions for the core courses and were always available when we were having difficulty figuring out a problem. I learned how to use a drill, how to wire an electrical socket, how to paint (skills that have come in handy in my adult life). I formed life-long friendships. When I got married several years after graduating, 21 MIT folk came from across the country and across the world to attend. 17 of them had lived on second west with me. Two years ago, I went to a wedding in for a fellow alum; 10 fellow east-siders came from across the world to meet up in a tiny mountain town in the Alps to celebrate their marriage. I know that anytime I go to NYC, San Fran, LA, Boston, Chicago, Paris and many other places across the world that I will always have a place to stay or a dinner date. When I run into a technical barrier in my research, I can call a number of friends to help me figure out some code or how to optimize a piece of lab equipment.
I have so many proud moments of my MIT experience. One particularly memorable night was a few years ago, at a MIT recruitment event in Cincinnati, where I saw that a full 1/3rd (I counted!) of the pictures shown to the high school students and their families were pictures of east campus, many of them from my tenure there. Later while interviewing some of these same students, many of them brought up these photos saying “did you really build a roller coaster?” “How did you get that fishtank in the wall?” “What is liquid nitrogen ice cream like?” and “Wow, that painting was amazing!” Now, whenever planning a big event, I think back to the skills I learned at EC by helping to cook thanksgiving dinner for 75+ students, alums and friends, or making over 2,000 servings of homemade ice cream in a few hours during CPW. My current friends are astounded at the random skills that I learned in college, including rudimentary lock-picking (very helpful when you lose a key to your work filing cabinet), basic construction skills, car maintenance, and an unusual knowledge of the chemistry of household goods.
It is so hard for me to sum up my east campus experience in just a few words. What I can say is that now, 10 years after graduation from college I know that living at East Campus has molded who I am today. My friends on 2W encouraged me to start UROPing and helped me to get my first lab job, which ultimately led to me getting a PhD in neuroscience. Seeing upperclassman go to medical school inspired me to do the same. The leadership skills I learned by organizing east campus activities (both formal and informal) have been invaluable in my roles on various institutional and national committees in my field. I’m proud to have gone to MIT, and I’m proud of the well-rounded education I got, both academically, through research experiences, and the wide-ranging experiences I got at East Campus. I’m proud of my MIT friends and all that we have accomplished. I’m proud to say that I lived at East Campus, and looking back, would not change a single aspect of my experience there.
Martine Lamy MD PhD
Course 9, Class of 2004.