You say "Goodbye," and I say "Howdy!"

Week ten is over. How did that happen? Each day of these ten weeks felt like a month, but together they feel like a blink. How can that be? I am definitely not complaining that I get to see my family and friends soon, though. That will be absolutely wonderful.

But, before that happens, I need to update you all on my last week of activities!

On Tuesday, we presented our posters (the whole series at once) to the other computer science REU students. We didn't think anyone would care about what we were working on, since it doesn't have anything to do with robotics or include any 10-syllable words, but I think our peers really liked it! We  presented for fifteen minutes, and they asked us 25 minutes of questions! If they kept asking questions, we trust that they were really interested, considering we were the last to present, and they knew that they could leave the meeting as soon as we finished. We were very pleased with the reaction.

Later on Tuesday, we had our first official poster session. We were pretty nervous, but overall, it was quite fun. I talked to four people and most of them seemed interested and friendly. One man came up to me, squinting at me over his glasses, and asked me what I did this summer. So I gave him my whole speech and then asked if he had any questions. He squinted up at me and said, "No. I work with bugs." I must have looked confused because he said, "You know, insects." Before I think of anything to say in response, he walked away. Strange man. We had a lot of fun though because we were really only occupied for about 20 minutes of the 2 hour session.

We had another poster presentation on Friday. This was the official one; we were judged by graduate students, faculty members and peers. I was a lot more nervous and had to present to a few people that were not interested at all in what I had to say. Many of my judges were grumpy and unfriendly, but I did meet a few people that seemed genuinely interested and excited about my work. It's an amazing feeling to know that in some small way, I might be making the world a better place. Anyway, I got through it and did my best and now I'm done!

My paper is done, too, so all of my obligations to this program have been completed. (Except this journal entry of course.)  Home is so close now!!!

I had my first one-on-one meeting with my mentor, Dr. Hammond this week. It was wonderful to be able to talk to someone about my future plans that understands, and doesn't have a hidden agenda. I learned a lot in that hour and I'm much more calm - at least for now - about finding my life path. Her advice was basically to make a path in every direction I think I might want to go, and then pick the destination I want most. I think I'll take her advice.

That conversation was a great closing chapter to my time here at Texas A&M. I can't wait to see  how my experiences here affect my life, my future. I am so grateful to this university and the DREU program for giving me this opportunity. I am forever grateful.

I'm not sure if the word "howdy" can be used for both hello and goodbye, like "aloha" can, but it seems fitting now anyway. I am saying "goodbye" to the fantastic people I've met in Texas, and "hello" to the world of opportunities before me, but I'll sum it all up into one final "Howdy". Thank you for everything, from the whole of my heart. I'll never forget.