TA Reflection: “The Students I Met This Summer Changed Me in So Many Ways”
Qubit by Qubit teaching assistant Shayda Moezzi reflects on how teaching students quantum computing this summer reignited her passion for inclusivity in STEM.
Shayda Moezzi is a rising sophomore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This summer, she was a teaching assistant for Qubit by Qubit’s three quantum computing summer programs. She is pursuing a major in Computer Science and Engineering (6–3) with a potential concentration in the history of art, architecture, and design. She is also currently working with the Decentralized Information Group at CSAIL and is an active member of AI@MIT.
About 30 minutes prior to writing this, I said goodbye to some of the most inspiring, creative, and passionate students I have ever met for one last time. Today, August 6th, marks the last day of my summer teaching run with Qubit by Qubit. This summer, Qubit by Qubit ran three amazing camps giving students a strong foundation in Quantum Computing. We welcomed so many diverse and talented students this summer, that if I begin talking about how wonderful they were, I would need a few more pages.
From 8 to 40 years old, from San Diego to Turkey, we all shared one thing in common and that was a passion to learn, together. Coming into the summer, I didn’t expect to leave so inspired and motivated as I am right now. The more time I spent teaching, the more I learned about myself and the impact I can have on someone’s future, while still building my own. My title this summer was “Teaching Assistant,” but for me, it was so, so much more than that. I am coming out of this summer with a new passion to leverage the power of technology to bring students from diverse backgrounds together, and teach each other that we all share so much more in common than we are different.
One thing that stuck with me the most was hearing students describe that their hesitance turned into confidence over the course of our time together. I remembered back to my first experience in a STEM activity when I was a freshman in high school. I remember I was different in so many ways, or so I thought. I felt as though my opinions and thoughts were silenced, that I didn’t belong. I can confidently say now that it was those moments of frustration that brought me here today — to stand on the other side and remind those hesitant and worried voices in my class that they have everything and more to do anything they love and are deeply passionate about. Yes, I am excited to know the future of quantum computing is in great hands, but I am even more excited to know it will be in the hands of currently underrepresented groups, in the hands of students driven by passion, in the hands of students that are confident in their voices and in who they are — this is truly what excites me the most.
“The students I met this summer changed me in so many ways.”
While we way too often hear about division in the world, one thing I take away from this experience is how easy it is to bring students of all different technical backgrounds, cultures, and walks of life together by the beauty of learning. The students came to learn quantum computing this summer, but what they don’t know is how much they taught me. The most notable thing I can reflect on is how wonderfully students learned to celebrate each other’s differences. This taught me how easily we can make others feel welcomed and appreciated, just by spending time to learn more about who they are. Every day in class during our break time, I would play music for the students. I noticed the students began to have a discussion in the chat talking about each other’s favorite songs. Students began to excitedly share songs from their culture to the class, how beautiful this moment was for me. Brought together through a curiosity to learn about quantum computing, students and myself came out of this program learning a much deeper lesson than that of superposition and entanglement. Maybe it is some sort of beautiful entanglement we are all in, I will let you be the judge of that.
I wholeheartedly mean it when I say this summer has been a life-changing experience for me. If being a “teaching assistant” means being able to learn about so many cultures, give confidence to hesitant voices, and celebrate the beauty of science and learning, then I will do it all again, a thousand more times.
Interested in learning quantum computing yourself? Applications for Qubit by Qubit’s 2021–2022 high school Introduction to Quantum Computing course are now open.
Open to grades 9–12. Learn more and apply at https://www.qubitbyqubit.org/programs