Have you ever heard of french fries on top of salads? It's a fantastic invention from my hometown of Pittsburgh.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, I spent most of my time going to swim practice with my brother, preparing to present projects at science fairs, and cooking delicious foods including salads with french fries on top. These three passions—swimming, science, and food—are why most people think I chose MIT. MIT has a vibrant swim team, excellent programs in Computer Science and Biology (I’m majoring in 6-7 :), and a campus surrounded by delicious food. While these were all large factors in my decision, something else stood out about MIT: the TCC (Tech Catholic Community).
Before even committing to MIT, I had the unique opportunity to join a TCC Bible study over zoom. I zoom bombed a virtual after-mass Coffee and Donuts session, thinking it would be a great way to learn more about MIT during the early phases of COVID in March 2020. “I’m running a Bible study in 10 minutes; you wanna join?” That invitation from Tara, one of MIT’s FOCUS missionaries at the time, changed my life. From that Sunday onward, I would connect into a weekly Bible study of bright, creative thinkers who wanted to grow in their faith. Bible study became a safe place to expand my mind and open my heart.
By the time I had decided to go to MIT, my faith was becoming alive in a way that it was not previously. In highschool, I went to Mass, played my violin as part of the music ministry, and taught 4th grade CCD at my home parish of St. Mary Magdelene. But Tara and my bible study pals helped me to see how my faith was interconnected with everything in my life -- from early morning swim practices to late-night study sessions.
Throughout the virtual semesters of my Freshman year, the friendship, mentorship, and fellowship of my TCC friends was invaluable. Soon I wasn’t just surviving MIT, but thriving! For me, a big part of that was receiving the Sacraments often by going to daily Mass and staying after for adoration. I am also so grateful to have a group of TCC friends to go to Mass with (even through Boston snow, sleet, hail, and rain).
A year and half after I Zoom-bombed Coffee and Donuts, I’m Freshman Outreach Chair on the TCC council. My goal is to help support new students in their transition to college in the way I was. Because of the TCC, I am more than just a swimmer, scientist, and foodie who likes french fries on top of her salads -- I am a daughter of the Father who knows the joy of growing in how I know, love, and serve our Lord.
-Aria Eppinger, MIT Junior