Junior Nicole Wolkov (far left) sits with her "STEM friends," juniors Arvind Krishnan, Quin LaComb and Shriya Nadgauda.

MY ANGLE: Junior’s the outsider in a group of STEM friends

Ethan Hockridge
Junior Nicole Wolkov (far left) sits with her “STEM friends,” juniors Arvind Krishnan, Quin LaComb, Zane Jakobs and Shriya Nadgauda.

I enjoy sitting down at lunch to talk with my junior friends. We discuss engaging topics such as world events and controversial issues. I’m always interested. 

That is, until the conversation turns toward academics and career choices. 

“What did you do on question five?” asks Shriya Nadgauda. 

Immediately, Zane Jakobs rushes to the whiteboard and starts drawing out equations, none of which I understand. 

Numbers, letters and symbols appear on the board. Their combinations don’t make any sense to me. It could be a foreign language for all I know.

An elongated “S” appears at the front of the equation. Then more letters and symbols appear, raised to other numbers and pictograms. 

Other times, I listen attentively to Quin LaComb and Nadgauda talk about plans for their future in engineering. 

I try to follow as they discuss the best universities with programs in engineering and what specifically they intend to study. 

More often than not, Jakobs jumps in, adding his opinion to the conversation.

“You know, Caltech has a particularly good aerospace engineering program because they have access to the JPL,” he says. 

“Well, I’m thinking about studying biomedical engineering,” adds Arvind Krishnan.

My eyes dart to each person as they talk, and I don’t breathe a word because I can’t contribute anything. I know little about their world – the parallel universe of STEM. I’m a humanities person, after all. What do I know about engineering? 

As education becomes more advanced in high school, it seems that the divide between STEM and the humanities grows wider. This isn’t the fault of the students or the teachers. It’s simply the way the subjects and classes are. 

Students generally find themselves gravitating toward calculus and physics or toward history and languages according to their interests and/or strengths. 

Nicole WolkovI would argue that I’m probably a stronger student in the humanities, but, more importantly, I have a passion for those subjects. 

The love I have for history and literature surpasses the question of whether or not I receive A’s in those classes.

It is impossible to shut me up when a conversation begins about the Eastern Front of WWII. 

Science and math don’t interest me in that same manner. That’s not to say that I find science boring, as I find it fascinating, but it doesn’t have the inciting spark of philosophy or politics.

As for math, I honestly wish it interested me. But it doesn’t in the slightest. 

I eagerly await the day that it does, so that doing my math homework will be as easy as getting lost in the history of the Holy Roman Empire. 

Until then, it’s the long haul.

I deeply value my friendships. But until you change the topic to something slightly more interesting, Quin, Shriya, Arvind and Zane, I’m tuning you guys out.

—By Nicole Wolkov

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