Jen Yu

Jen Yu

Hi, I’m Jen! I am a native of New York City and currently a senior at Caltech majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Biology. I’m a co-captain of Caltech’s tennis team and a member of Fleming House. On campus, I’m involved with the Caltech Y, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Chemistry Club. I love exploring both the urban and natural parts of Los Angeles by going out to restaurants or hiking on weekends.


Latest Articles


academics

Reflections: My Favorite Classes

Four weeks before graduation! While I’m looking forward to the summer and all the fun it promises, I’m also reflecting on my undergraduate experience over the past few years. This is a blog about my favorite classes during my time here, some expected and others less so. As a Computer Science major, no CS classes actually make my final cut, but my top three favorite classes all fall into the realm of Neuroscience, my other primary academic interest.

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culture

Being a Caltech Athlete

As I write this blog, I’m sitting on a grassy knoll on Pomona-Pitzer’s campus. It’s the last match of my final season of tennis here at Caltech. It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling to be done with my college tennis career (unless I decide to use my final year of NCAA eligibility, granted to athletes affected by the COVID-19 pandemic). Being a part of the women’s tennis team here has been a defining part of my identity and where I met my community on campus. In this blog, I want to discuss a bit of the process of becoming an NCAA athlete, the Caltech experience of handling schoolwork and a sport, and my take on how it affected my growth here.

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academics

Humanities at Caltech

I remember being a junior in HS and my APCS partner, Brooke, had just gotten accepted into Caltech. She was looking at the course catalog for humanities courses during class (instead of working on our project) and shaking her head at the offerings. When May rolled around, she told me part of the reason she didn’t choose to go to Caltech was how the humanities courses seemed to be “too scientific,” with classes that integrated history with quantum physics, etc. A year later, when I was in the same situation, I decided to matriculate to Caltech for its strong STEM offerings, but felt some anxiety about how my love of the humanities would be fed during my four years of undergraduate education.

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academics

Interactions with Professors

One of the most well-known benefits of being a Caltech student is the infamous 3:1 student to faculty ratio, which implies a personalized, interactive undergraduate experience with world-class research scientists. It was a primary reason why I chose Caltech above other schools as a high school senior. Now as my time at Caltech comes to a close, I can reflect back on my interactions with different professors and consider if this 3:1 ratio really “lives up to the hype.” I believe the answer is yes.

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academics

Pre-med at Caltech

Despite being a school known for its scholarship and prowess in research, Caltech is not the most popular destination for pre-med students, largely due to its reputation of rigor. For many, Caltech’s degree of rigor is synonymous with grade deflation, one of the scariest English phrases to any pre-med student. As someone who started off on a completely different track, I matriculated to Caltech as a Computer Science major, and fully expected myself to be working in the tech industry when I graduated. However, as I went through a few different internships and also got exposed to different areas of science, I rediscovered my passion for biology, specifically neuroscience, and decided at the end of my sophomore year to embark on the pre-med track. In this blog, I’ll talk a bit first about the requirements for pre-meds, then he different opportunities available here for clinical work/volunteering, and finally some of the fears prospective pre-meds may have about attending Caltech.

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culture

A Day in the Life: Jen

In this blog, I want to take you through a day in my life as a Caltech student. My daily routine has varied greatly since I arrived. In high school, I used to wake up early in the morning to run and play tennis; upon arriving at Caltech my freshman year, my wake-up time quickly shifted back to the 10-11am time range. Now that I’m a senior who has more of her life together, I’ve begun to start my day early again so that I can get a jumpstart. There’s nothing like waking up to the California sunshine and to feel the crisp morning air on your face.

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academics

How I Study

A while back, I wrote a blog post on the best study spots on campus. Now that you’ve settled in and found a place with a good ambiance for work, the questions evolves into: how do I get started? What’s the most effective way to study at Caltech? The answer, as always, is not clear-cut, since we each learn and process information in an individual way. However, in this blog post, I’ll provide some insight on the strategies I’ve used to study at Caltech and what tools I’ve found work for me.

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culture

Peer Advocates

I’ve been involved with the Peer Advocate program since my freshman year at Caltech. I always regarded myself as a person who could listen to and empathize with others, and enjoyed serving that role to my friends and peers in high school. A Peer Advocate is trained to build listening skills to address mental health issues in their peers and to improve the residential experience through hosting office hours and house events. It’s one of the most unique programs at the school and provides a valuable resource for all Caltech students.

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culture

The Residential Experience (Caltech RA's)

At Caltech, RA can stand for “Research Assistant,” but more commonly refers to “Resident Associate.” RAs are full-time graduate students who live in the houses with undergraduates and help to manage student activities and the house community. Recently, my house (Fleming) got a new RA, after our old RA, Steve, went off to do his postdoc at Yale University.

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culture

Ceramics @ Caltech

Many people, after getting into Caltech, get excited about taking a certain class, meeting a famous professor, or getting the chance to work at NASA. When I got into Caltech, I spent a week looking at the course catalog. Then, I sent a message to Ankita, an upperclassman on the tennis team who had hosted me when I visited the school. “How’s the Ceramics class?” I asked. To this day, she still laughs about me being the girl who asked about Ceramics even before getting information about the core requirements and whatnot (she didn’t know anything, by the way.) This year, my senior year, my schedule finally allowed me to squeeze in the class I’ve wanted to take before I even graduated high school – Ceramics.

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local

Traveling at Caltech

Maybe you’ve hopped on a plane to LAX and now you’re trying to get to campus. Or you found some free time in between the 5 sets due next week and the sport you’re playing to take a trip out to LA. Whatever your reasons are, I hope this post offers some useful resources on how to get on/off campus. While Pasadena is a beautiful neighborhood, it’s not located in the most convenient areas of Los Angeles, an urban sprawl in and of itself. Please note this article is updated as of 2/3/2022.

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academics

Admissions Reflections

I was sitting at the kitchen table, having just finished a meal, when I decided to check my admissions decision for Caltech. While I was nervous for what might happen, I’ve always had a “rip the band-aid off” attitude. The decision had been made and it was just up to me now to observe what it was. I remember the moment very vividly – I clicked on the link in my application portal and a stream of virtual orange confetti rained down my computer screen. The first line of the letter said “Congratulations!”

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culture

Caltech Food Tour

Caltech may be a small campus, but it has a large variety of food options. There are three main dining locations on campus — The Lee F. Browne Dining Hall, the Hameetman Center (which houses our beloved Red Door Cafe), and the Broad Café.

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research

My SURF Experience

SURF, short for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is a quintessential experience for any Caltech student. It is a widely accessible research fellowship for Caltech students that funds your proposed research for one summer term. While many of my classmates did their first SURF the summer after their freshman year, I sent in my first application to the program as a sophomore. As a CS major, I was trying to chase meaningful work that intersected computation with the field of neuroscience. I ended up doing a SURF at the Stanford School of Medicine that first year, studying hand gestures in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since then, I’ve been working in the research space of applying computational analyses to ASD.

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academics

How to take care of yourself at Caltech

So you’ve done it! You’re going to attend Caltech, one of your dream schools, and you can officially call yourself a Techer. Maybe you grew up in sunny Southern California or, like me, moved thousands of miles from the East Coast (where they actually have seasons.) Regardless of how familiar you are with Pasadena or the Caltech campus before attending, becoming a student is a unique and new experience. Life at Caltech can be fun, but it is also one of the most rigorous schools in the world. It is important that your own health and wellbeing is always a top priority, regardless of whatever commitments you have on your plate.

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Academics

My Favorite Study Spots

As the first week of fall term whizzes past, many of us are beginning to feel the schoolwork kick into high gear. While Rotation, the process through which freshmen choose their houses, wraps up, we can begin to discuss some relaxing study spots on campus. Studying is not everyone’s favorite activity but it can be synonymous with learning — and having fun! Here are a few of my favorite places. I’ve also rated each area out of three stars on various factors to give a better picture of each space.

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