Celebrating a real one, Kim

Summary: There is never a perfect time to do anything. So if you ever think about doing something (that is edifying and legal), do it today.

Kimmmmm. Someone that always brightened my nights 💛

I actually enjoy working front desk. Sure, it’s a job and may not be the most appealing when you are racing against time to submit a problem set or final project. It’s also not the most ideal when you need to be at your friend’s birthday surprise at 11:59pm, but your shift ends at 12:30am.

But 80% of the time when you’re not in those circumstances, it’s pretty nice. It’s a nice study break. A change of pace and place. Something different. Also, you have the added benefit of hanging out with the security workers who have the most interesting stories (and with whom you experience the drama of difficult visitors).

I usually worked the night shifts so I interacted with Kim the most. I’m not sure how exactly we started talking but Kim soon became someone that I looked forward to seeing everyday. She came around the floors once every hour and every time she saw me, she would either be fascinated at how hard I was working, or concerned that I was burning myself out.

If she entered the kitchen and it was past 4am, she would most likely say “Oh no, my poor baby. Please get some sleep”

Kim was so funny — she congratulated me every single time I came back to McCormick before 3am. 😂 She knew that MIT was hard and that I had no choice but to work hard if I wanted to stay afloat. But as a mother, she was concerned; concerned that I was trading off my health and wellness for something that was important but not worth it.

At 3am, talking to Kim was therapeutic. She was always curious about why I was still awake and sometimes I would tell her about some bug I was still trying to figure out. But most of the time, we talked about life.

We spoke about many things. Sometimes I would tell her about my background, the way my parents raised us, and the way living in America was both a blessing and a curse. She would also tell me about how she believed in the value of working hard and how she ended up living in the US. We spoke about relationships, life plans and everything in between.

One day, I was rehearsing my 6.UAT presentation at desk. After I had rehearsed it for the umpteenth time, Kim gave me extremely valuable feedback. She pinpointed the areas that were strong and then told me to spend some time explaining the relevance of my project because there was no hook to draw people in. Guess what? The next day, the one thing she told me to do was the one thing that everyone in the class loved about my presentation.

Kim was the last person I waved goodbye when flying out for interviews and the first person I saw when I returned after all my red eyes. As soon as I tapped my ID and opened the door, she would ask “How did it go? How are you feeling?”

Kim never ceased to remind me of how proud she was of me. She told me to never stop working hard and she always encouraged me to further my education and see it through while I was young. She said

“If you have a keen interest and you have been given the opportunity and funding, do not take it for granted. Make good use of it so that you can build a better life for your family.”

Kim looked forward to my graduation even more than I did. She kept saying “Wowwwww. It’s been 4 years already. I can’t wait to celebrate all your late nights and your hard work.” Every single night, whether she met me on 4E or 7E or when I went to drop off the study room keys, she urged me on. Every single time I won an award or was accepted into a program, she would cheer me on.

More than anything, I was looking forward to taking pictures with Kim on my graduation day. But this crisis has taught me that sometimes you just need to go for it; there’s no better time and tomorrow is not guaranteed. So, just do it.

#YouCanDoItOnlyYouCanDoItYouCantDoItAlone

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Jessie’s Journey

Jessie’s Journey

I’m an EECS MIT ’20 from Accra, Ghana. Here, I share my reflections and learnings based on my experiences.