One of our 2016 participants recently sent us this unsolicited note about his transformational INSPIRE experience:
"I would like to thank you for the opportunity which your program offered me.
To be blatantly honest, I initially did not want to enter the competition when I first heard about it. Not because I did not want to put the effort toward researching and writing a paper, but because I did not believe myself that my writing was something which could compete at a national scale. The mere fact that I was selected as a finalist caught me quite off guard when I received the news, though not in a positive manner. I initially wanted to forfeit my position; I thought there would be no chance for me if I were to compete in Cambridge – there must have been some kind of fluke if I had been selected.
However, much in part to the coercive power of my classmates and teachers, I did not go through with that plan. While at the [final round of] competition, I was able to see an expansive and deep insight into how people view the world just between each of the participants. Some of the projects there even changed the way I view my daily life and culture (I point to the project linking James Bond to an evolving figure of masculinity as the most memorable of which). The judges also gave a great understanding to just what esteem and scrutiny my work will be held to at a collegiate level, and I have been writing every paper since the competition at the very standard. At the end of the weekend I was there, I certainly had a very different outlook on not just college expectations but the expectations of me as a person. I do not think I could say the same had I not been a part of MIT Inspire.
So, I would like to thank you for that whole experience – being able to trust in my own skill and understand more intimately the expectations of me as I enter this next chapter of my life."