My Experience With i-Trek

By Christine Richardson

“If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.“ – Mao Zedong

Throughout life we experience new things every day that can positively influence our inherent knowledge. I have recently learned that the only way to gain “true” knowledge on a subject is for an individual to personally see, touch, smell, and embrace the subject, or else risk having no real feeling or passion for it. This is part of the mission of i-Trek. i-Trek gives students from various colleges and universities the opportunity to conduct hands-on research, as this experience is often not available at underfunded institutions. As a member of the trek pilot program, I was able to experience what that hands-on research is, and be taken into a world that gives the word “experience” a new outlook.

During the first days of the i-Trek program I was scared. I felt as though I had no real knowledge of the topic that was being presented as our trek research challenge. Also, the idea of meeting new people and going to a strange place with them reminded me of a line from a horror movie. Reluctantly, as I approached the rest of the team, I could see the nervous faces seep through behind the smiles, and I knew that everyone was just as nervous about this experience as I was. As I took my first steps out of the airport, with the team that I was going to spend the next two weeks with, I knew that I was about to go through an experience that would not only change my résumé, but my life experience and fundamental knowledge.

As the first day of the i-Trek program began, I met new people with different backgrounds. We gradually got to know one another and bits and pieces of everyone’s major and talents began to show. Eventually, as the program came to a close, we all became a family, and were grateful for the experience and the ability to share our knowledge and talents with others.

In conclusion, I learned a lot while in this program. I-Trek showed me my strengths in communication and presentation and things I can continue to improve upon (I had some difficulty with the diving!) so I will make an even better candidate when reaching my ultimate goals in STEM. Now, at the end of this program, I can certainly say that if I could go back through time knowing both the challenges as well as the benefits I would apply for this program all over again.