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Students applaud Summit program

From January 6 to 8, Carnegie Mellon hosted its first annual Summit ? three days of classes, seminars and workshops for students. Course topics hit across the spectrum, including "God as CEO," "Snowshoeing," and "How to Be a Player: Relationship Tips from a Master." The instructors were a mix of faculty, professionals, and students who came forward to share their hobbies or interests.
"I feel like I learned a lot," said first-year CIT student Martha Ryan when asked how she felt about the Summit program. Ryan was among the 150 students who participated in Summit before the official start of University courses.
"Summit gave us the opportunity to try something we would've never tried before," said senior chemistry major Christine DeForest.
This type of attitude was exactly what Roger Ma, a fifth-year senior with a degree in business administration and economics, had in mind when he created the Summit program. Inspired two years ago by a friend who wanted to take a woodshop class that did not fit into his schedule, Ma decided to create a program where "you could take courses such as Acting for Non-Majors without being stuck as number 35 on the waiting list." He also wanted to encourage students from different colleges to interact. "A lot of the time, you meet great people at Orientation, but end up never seeing them again because they aren't in your college or major," said Ma. Both MIT and Johns Hopkins University have implemented similar programs.
CMU's Summit program has received a positive reaction from students who attended. "I made so many new friends," said first-year music major Aubrey O'Connor. "The atmosphere was comfortable and the interactive classes made it easy to approach people and start conversations." MCS first-year Gorana Smailagic agreed. "My expectations were more than met at the Salsa Dancing class. I learned a lot and had a blast. I want to dance and learn a lot more salsa now," said Smailagic.
Classes were typically between 10 and 20 students, and lasted for two and a half hours per day. The seminars spanned from as little as 30 minutes to up to three hours. No university credits are given for taking any of the classes.
While Roger Ma considers this year's run a success, he hopes to "double the participants and expand the 40 class offerings to about 80" for next year. Ma predicts that Summit will "continue to be a three day program for the next four or five years, [because] people at CMU like things in intense spurts." Any longer, said Ma, and the students would become uninterested. He also hopes that more faculty will decide to get involved. This year, Summit received assistance from the Tepper School of Business, Student Senate, Pep Boys, and the Ballroom Dancing Club, among others. According to Ma, even though Summit only costs 26 dollars and provides participants with three meals a day over the three day period, it "broke even because we get a lot of help from people who do things pro bono." For example, "The Culinary Arts: Slice, Dice, and Make it Nice" came with a 30-dollar meal, courtesy of the instructor.
CIT first-year Raihan Islam concluded that "Summit has a really high value for a small price. The food is awesome, we learn, and we get to have a chill time with people we probably haven't met before."