Madeira senior, Bridget Duru, attended the week-long Adventures of the Mind Summit at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA through the generous support and nomination of Madeira alumna, Jaylaan Ahmad-Llewellyn '96. Jaylaan and her mother created the Adventures of the Mind Ahmad-Llewellyn Scholarship and seek to nominate girls who exemplify academic excellence and leadership. According to their website, the Adventures of the Mind is like a week-long TED conference for teens, designed to help students explore their future, including career paths that stoke their intellectual and creative passions. Bridget summarizes her experience and tells of the insights she gained below.
Stepping onto the campus of Occidental College for the 2014 Adventures of the Mind Summit, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that the program mainly focused on mentoring from reading our schedule, but I was still unclear on what was in store. Although I had a feeling that it would be an exciting and inspiring program, I did not expect just how much I would take from the experience and how much I would love it.
Waking up at 7:00 a.m. for exercise to returning to our dorms at 11:00 p.m., activities at Adventures, lovingly called “nerd camp,” were plenty. From conversing with famous journalists to collaborating in a Hack-a-thon to create the best app, the possibilities were endless. No field was left behind, as we heard from paleontologists, computer scientists, astrophysicists, authors, and magicians alike. There are not many people who can say that they met a famous ballet dancer (Jaques D’Amboise), listened to a panel of award-winning authors, joked around with a writer from the Big Bang Theory, and heard from a Nobel laureate in physics all within one week.
As extraordinary as it is to be able to say that I was taught by one of the top chess players in the world, the mentors’ wisdom and experiences proved much more valuable. We were given sound advice on the importance and possibilities of hard work and even got a taste of our financial futures during a first-hand breakout session. Embarking on our futures was a prevalent topic, and most mentors stressed that we should do what will make us happy and connect who we are with who we want to become. Each mentor was exceptionally intelligent and taught me something different. Professor Thaddeus Russell, who takes history from the perspective of the underdogs, changed my view on American history with the idea that the past “untouchables” of society are those who really opened the door to our freedoms and liberties. History doesn’t always change abruptly, and neither do people. However, during this single week in June, who I am and what I know was shattered, built on, and forever altered by these remarkable mentors.
Adventures of the Mind not only gave me the chance to meet amazing professionals who are changing the world, but also allowed me to connect with incredibly talented students from across the world who will be tomorrow’s leaders. I am positive that in a few years, I’ll call members of the Adventures Class of 2014 and find out that they are producing movies, inventing new technology, or writing award-winning books. Participating in Adventures was a phenomenal experience and I am so fortunate that I was able to attend. I took away a great number of things from attending this program: how to learn, how to look for poker “tells,” and how to create an app interface. Nevertheless, I think the best thing I learned was the importance of taking chances in opportunities, people, and most of all, myself. Just like I did not know what to expect from this program, I don’t know what expect for my future. Still, I know that whatever I do and become, I’ll always look back fondly on my time at Adventures of the Mind. – Bridget Duru ’15
Learn more about Adventures of the Mind >>Academics Leadership