How MSMS students spent their COVID-19 summer


Courtesy of Linda Arnoldus

Arnoldus enjoys the scenic views during her trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Karlene Deng, Photography Editor

As students logged off their last Zoom lecture and rushed to submit their final semester projects, many awaited their much-needed summer break. For some, quarantine was the perfect opportunity to participate in summer programs and prepare for the upcoming school year. Others rediscovered their favorite hobbies and cultivated new skills. Below is a collection of ways students spent their two months.


Academic Programs

1. Mississippi StarTalk (University of Mississippi)

how students spent their summer
Luke Bowles
Bowles studies for his Chinese final exam through the University of Mississippi.

“MS StarTalk was a program where I learned basic Chinese speaking and writing skills. We met twice a day, five days a week, for an entire month. 我学了很多中文!It was one of the hardest yet simultaneously most rewarding things I’ve ever done.” – Luke Bowles, senior




2. Aspirnaut High School Summer Research Internship (Vanderbilt University)

“I was accepted into the Aspirnaut High School Summer Research Internship program with Vanderbilt University Medical Center this summer. The initial plan was to spend six weeks at Vanderbilt University working in the world-renowned Matrix Biology Laboratory, but since the pandemic seemed to be an issue, the program was held virtually for two weeks where I was able to connect with research scientists & Vanderbilt undergraduate admission counselors, engaged in STEM discussion, and even completed a small at-home research study as part of the program. 

Overall, it was a wonderful experience (especially since I was the only one representing Mississippi) and I will be back next year…hopefully this time at Vanderbilt! If you have a passion in STEM/Research, definitely look into it and don’t hesitate to reach me!” – Shanay Desai, senior


3. Yale Young Global Scholars (Yale University)

how students spent their summer
Gracie Rowland
Rowland enjoys a peaceful day after virtually joining her fellow scholars in a Zoom session.

“This summer I virtually attended the Literature, Philosophy, and Culture session of Yale Young Global Scholars. Students from over 134+ countries attended, and hearing their opinions and experiences allowed me to gain more insight into universal worldviews and gain more empathy for realities outside my own. I took classes on neoliberalism, queer theory, the male gaze in film and feminist critical theory.” – Gracie Rowland, senior




4. Telluride Association Summer Program (University of Maryland)

how students spent their summer
Courtesy of Shelby Tisdale
Tisdale plans out her day before attending a seminar with her fellow students.

“I had the opportunity to (virtually) participate in the Telluride Association Summer Program with the University of Maryland! For six weeks, I attended a seminar on ‘Education and Citizenship’ taught by professors from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the University of Maryland. 

Fourteen students across the country (and Canada) and I studied perspectives from Greek philosophers to modern court cases and podcasts, debated questions about educational structure and inequities and democratically governed our community (in alignment with the traditional ideals of the program) to schedule creative events. We also engaged with a variety of esteemed guest speakers, including educational policymakers and various professors.” – Shelby Tisdale, senior



Staying Productive

1. Programming a Rubik’s Cube

Courtesy of Maxwell Dobbs
Using extensive calculations, Dobbs successfully programs algorithms for a Rubik’s Cube.


“For the past month, I’ve been working really hard on programming a Rubik’s Cube in Python. There isn’t any preexisting 3D platform on which I built it; it was made essentially from scratch, with a lot of math. You can rotate the cube and rotate any of the sides manually, and you can also tell the computer to solve it slowly (showing ever step) and quickly (in approximately 3 seconds). Here’s a picture of the computer in the middle of a slow solve.” – Maxwell Dobbs, senior





Raeed Kabir's prep book
Courtesy of Raeed Kabir
Kabir shares his knowledge and experience about chemistry in his book, “AP Chemistry Prepbook: Understand Every Concept There Is.”

2. Self Study and Publishing Chemistry Prep Book

“I did lots of studying and learning in general for some classes I would take next year. I got out and ran very consistently, and I sat down and published a chemistry prep book. I tried to make this summer as productive as possible!

To elaborate, I decided to self study AP Calculus BC on Khan Academy and finished early June. I also plan on starting cross country at MSMS to be in shape for soccer, so I started running every day and preparing for the season.” – Raeed Kabir, junior


3. Studying Number Theory

“Dr. Benge taught me about number theory over this summer! I received weekly assignments and we would talk though Zoom on Fridays. I learned how about prime numbers, solved diophantine equations, and even proved there are no integers in between 0 and 1.” – Bryce Harrison, senior


4. New Languages and Businesses

how students spent summer
Courtesy of Keynijah Sullivan
Sullivan keeps herself busy during quarantine by learning several languages and helping her mom start a salad business.

“I practiced Spanish, Italian and Korean and learned how to do a few hairstyles. I also spent time with my family, burned cookies, and played ‘Just Dance’ until 3 a.m. and helped my mom start a salad business.” – Keynijah Sullivan, junior





how students spent their summer
Lily Langstaff
Langstaff takes a tour through Mississippi State’s beehives with the guidance of Gregg Tingle.




5. Visiting Bee Hives

“I visited a couple bee hives with Mississippi State’s Gregg Tingle. He had about 65,000 bees and showed me around each hive. Suiting up and being up close with the bees was a lot of fun! I love bees and hope to become an apiarist so this was an amazing experience.” – Lily Langstaff, senior




Volunteer Work

1. MSMS Summer Enrichment Camp

Courtesy of Courtenay Sebastian
Sebastian and her skeleton, Indiana Bones, worked with campers every morning for MSMS enrichment camp.

“This summer I was an MSMS Summer Enrichment Camp Counselor! After participating in the camps for 4 years, it was an honor to be a part of the camps yet again.” – Courtenay Sebastian, senior





Family Connections

how students spent summer
Courtesy of Zoe Damessous
Damessous took time to reconnect with her relatives in Florida.

1. Florida

“This summer I flew to Florida to visit my father, step-mother, and step-siblings. It was my first time back in 10 years. It was bittersweet to look back on my hometown and remember my childhood. I went to the beach a few times, but I mostly stayed home to spend time with my family and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.” – Zoe Damessous, junior