Sarah Pan ’24 is a three year Upper from Monterey, California. On campus, Pan is on the board of the Andover Asian Society, Blueshells, Andover’s competitive cybersecurity team, and is part of the Abbot AI garden, an Abbot-grant funded project for intelligent automatic gardening. Pan considers herself to be relatively STEM oriented; over the summer, she interned with Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence and Medical Imaging Lab.
There’s a lot of really good STEM opportunities here, especially in the Makerspace. I think it’s such a good way to just go in with an idea and to make something out of it. I also think the faculty here are really amazing at supporting [students]. If you just go up to them and talk to them, it’s very easy for them to give you guidance or talk to you about what you’re interested in. And so, I think in those ways, Andover has been different from other places I’ve been to just because there is so much of that freedom, so you can really just get to explore whatever you want and whatever you find interesting.
I went to middle school in Hawaii, and everyone there is Asian, so I didn’t really think about being Asian all that often—I kind of just took it as it was. But coming to the mainland, especially to the East coast, I was curious as to what the Asian experience is in predominantly non-Asian communities. And so, I started by going to an AWE (Asian Women Empowerment) meeting, and we read poetry by Franny Choi, and I was like ‘wow, this is so interesting.’ Even though I was in a place where everyone was Asian, there was never really dialogue on what it means to be Asian, so I definitely started looking into that, and I just became really, really interested.
Andover’s taught me that there are so many different ways to live, if that makes sense. Like that sounds horrible as I’m saying it, but everyone is so different and everyone finds joy in their own ways. And you kind of see that and you’re like ‘oh, even though I might not be like you, I can still find a way to connect with you, and I’ll still be friends with you’ is one of the biggest takeaways I’ve had from Andover, and one of the things that I will appreciate the greatest.
When Rabbit Pond freezes over the winter, people take chairs and push each other across the ice. It [is] the funniest thing ever.
So right now the AI garden, it’s mostly just like putting stuff together. We’re building a table, and a mobile bed in the [robotics lab of the] Makerspace. So there’s going to be a little garden bed down there. And right now, there’s very minimal AI because we’re just setting everything up. But the long term goal is to kind of figure out what the software and hardware components need or where they can be improved. And then just contributing to the open source from there.
I think the strongest part of Andover is the community in terms of people and not just your friends, but also faculty, and also in terms of speakers. [All-School Meeting] speakers and sometimes clubs bring speakers. You get to hear about stories from so many people, and I think that, sure, you might be able to take a rigorous class or a good history class at any other school, but hearing these people’s stories, even your peers’ stories, how they might be different from you. That’s something that you can’t really get anywhere else.
Actually, this is very anti-STEM of me. Basically, when I was coming into high school, I was like ‘I hate history,’ ‘I hate English,’ ‘I can’t write for my life.’ But then I got here, and I started taking History 100 and English 100, and I was like, ‘Hey, this is actually really interesting.’ Over the years that I’ve been here, I’ve actually found English to be a very interesting subject. I’ve gained this new part of me that likes humanities… I know this is not really a conventional achievement, but I’m really happy that I’ve found something else that I’ve also really enjoyed.
I think STEM is a very, very viable career path. I’m also very passionate about how STEM and how computer science can help the future — not just for money but more so the social aspect of it… Instead of focusing on STEM as in pure science, I think it’s more interesting and more fulfilling to look at it in the lens of ‘how can this help the world?’
So, over the summer I started working for them as an intern and we just created a model that would look for misplacement of chest tubes, and so basically we’d go through this data set. And with X-ray imaging people’s chests, we created an algorithm that would basically detect where those tubes are, and that would just inform radiologists on how things are placed and whether they’re correct or not.
I mean, coming from California, I feel like I’m getting demoted because there’s so much fresh produce in California. And I get none of that here. I genuinely feel like I’m getting scurvy.