Patrick Liu from Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois was Highly Commended in the Psychology category of The Undergraduate Awards in 2016. Patrick attended the UA Global Summit in November and here he reflects on his experience:
“As a pre-medical student studying psychology, neuroscience, and biological sciences, I am obviously entrenched in a STEM bubble at Northwestern, and rarely do I have the opportunity to interact with and be inspired by an incredible array of global scholars outside of such a bubble. Throughout the week-long Global Summit, I only met a handful of students who studied topics within STEM and even fewer from America. Yet the moment I arrived, I felt an instant connection with the other attendees because of our similar yet so beautifully diverse passions for academic work.
Patrick chats with other Attendees at the Gala Dinner in St. Patricks Cathedral
It is not hard to imagine that when over 150 scholars from 25 disparate concentrations around the world blend together, world-changing ideas and thought-provoking conversations will flourish. However, what amazed me the most was not the immense skill and passion embodied by everyone there, but rather it was their commitment and motivation to utilize their talents to make the world better. The degree of collaboration displayed at UCollaborate on the final day galvanized me to strive to contribute my best to help foster global innovation, empathy, and compassion.
Patrick speaking with representatives from Western University
The Global Summit gifted me a lot. It offered me the chance to explore Ireland for the first time on a university sponsored trip, and it also allowed me to dive into other students’ cultural backgrounds vicariously through their stories and experiences. However, the aspect that will remain with me the longest is the people I met. Despite only being there for a few days, I am fully confident that the friendships I formed will be life lasting. The number of people there was overwhelming at times, but even as a massive introvert, I forced myself to make the most out of the summit by socializing with as many people as possible, knowing full well that I would have plenty of time to recharge after.
The moment I got off the plane, I met a man from London studying computer-brain interfaces. His research lies at the intersection of neuroscience, computer science, and electrical engineering. We immediately bonded over our mutual interest in neuroscience, and we coincidentally ended up being randomly paired as roommates for the duration of the summit. By the end of the summit, he knew much more about the molecular and cellular components of neural activity, and I the engineering perspectives.
Patrick receiving his certificate at the Awards Ceremony
In another instance, after hearing a brief presentation by a student with a background in philosophy and linguistics on the “dangers of generalization and dangerous generalizations”, I decided to strike up a conversation with him. His work applies to how stereotypes form, so I was able to draw from my psychology background on heuristical thinking to provide new insight into his research and point him to a psychology professor at his university who won a Nobel Prize on this topic. I had never considered his perspectives on stereotypes, and he did not know much about mine, but now we both have a much greater appreciation. Only now am I truly starting to understand how the humanities and arts are the guardians of modern society and culture; they answer the questions of if and why things occur, whereas the STEM fields predominantly focus on how.
The anecdotes of the marvellous people I met are endless. So many other friendships started with a spontaneous hello and quickly delved into much deeper conversation regarding academia, the state of the world, and future career aspirations. There was truly no boring moment, and even within my own field, I was both challenged and inspired.
Prof. Ian Robinson speaks to Attendees at The Colloquium
One of my academic heroes and an internationally renowned neuroscientist, Professor Ian Robertson, was invited as a guest speaker. I cannot recall the last time I have had such childlike glee in conversing with someone. Many other prominent individuals were also invited, such as the CEO of Blackrock, though my excitement was virtually nonexistent in comparison to the business students’.
In all, I have not much else to say besides that I am truly humbled and thankful to have been able to attend such a beautiful and life-changing conference. Thank you to all my professors and mentors at Northwestern who continually push me intellectually; to Dr. Civetta, Dr. Haarlow, and the rest of the relevant administration and faculty who sponsored the trip; and to The Undergraduate Awards staff.
I will certainly be applying again while I am still eligible, and I look forward to remaining involved with The Undergraduate Awards.”