I arrived at Visitas 2017 in a trance. I nearly hadn’t applied to Harvard, and I’d been shocked to see “Congratulations, Malia!” in my email inbox on admissions day.When I set foot on campus for Visitas, my acceptance still didn’t feel fully real. Walking through the Yard, everyone seemed so at ease; students were wandering through the Yard casually, and pre-frosh were eagerly exchanging phone numbers and sharing their College aspirations. At the time, I couldn’t believe how relaxed everyone on campus seemed. It hadn’t sunk in that I had been admitted, let alone that I was interacting with incredible, intelligent future classmates from all over the world.Fast-forward a year, and as an intern in the Admissions Office I was responsible for documenting Visitas 2018 on Snapchat. As I navigated events like the research symposium, the activities fair, and brunch in Annenberg, I was transported back to my own Visitas experience.At that time, I was overwhelmed, excited, and eager to begin my time at Harvard — I didn’t know what to expect. When I arrived, my host and her roommates were anxious to share their experiences as freshmen. I came with the misconception that it might be challenging to meet people I connected with, as a first-gen, low-income student. I was worried that my public education in Idaho would not match the intensity of the courses at Harvard. At the time, as my host listed off her classes, “LS1b,” “Expos 20,” and “Ec 10” may as well have been a different language. Now, I am well acquainted with these courses, and happy to report that I was completely wrong about the difficulty of finding friends.Re-experiencing Visitas allowed me to reflect on how much I have grown in just one year. During my own Visitas, I attended a cupcake-making event for a Phillips Brooks House Association program called “Strong Women, Strong Girls,” a mentoring program for girls in underserved Boston neighborhoods. I now serve on its board, and it has been the most rewarding part of my time here thus far. The mentors are a diverse, inspiring group of women whom I am proud to call my friends.I came to College thinking that I wanted to study psychology and neuroscience. While these are definitely still areas of interest, I am also fascinated by the study of history and literature and sociology, thanks to some general education courses I’m taking this semester. Harvard’s liberal arts education has allowed me to explore a wide range of interests, from introductory biology/chemistry to an in-depth survey of the history of capitalism. This structure has not only allowed but encouraged me to study topics that I might otherwise not.As a pre-frosh, I was worried that Harvard would be full of competitive, isolated students. To my pleasant surprise, I have found that the people here are incredibly friendly and open to conversation. Last weekend, I filmed the activities fair for Snapchat, and instead of being overwhelmed by the many clubs available at Harvard, I was happily greeted with smiles and waves from familiar faces, close friends, and strangers alike. As club members handed out candy and blasted music in the Student Organization Center at Hilles, I couldn’t help but smile, thinking about the support that members of the Harvard community have for one another.Malia (far right) and her blockmates will live in Kirkland House next year. Some group members met at Visitas, and the rest met during Opening Days, Harvard’s freshman orientation week. Courtesy of Malia K. Clark ’21On the way back to the Yard, I met a pre-frosh who was looking for a place to work. I reflected on the late nights I have spent this year laboring on a problem set in Cabot Science Library or finishing an essay in Lamont Cafe with friends. When we arrived in the Yard, my entire blocking group happened to be sitting on the chairs outside, listening to music and working together. They directed the pre-frosh to Lamont, playfully calling out, “We’ve created a Lamonster already!”When I talked with some pre-frosh later that night about their Visitas experiences, every one of them said that the best part had been the amazing people they met. I found myself echoing their statements, realizing that the best part of my Harvard experience has been the late-night library sessions and “family dinners” with friends, and (loudly) supporting each other’s art, theater, and dance performances throughout the year. As this year’s pre-frosh shared the events they had been to, and their excitement for College, I was reminded of being in their position just a year ago. I feel a renewed sense of excitement to see how I will change in another short year.As Visitas 2018 came to a close, I am filled with inspiration from the Class of 2022, and I can’t wait to welcome its members to the Harvard community.
MORE: Jalen Hurts distances himself in Heisman race with stat-stuffed Big 12 debutWith that, a look inside Tagovailoa and Smith’s ludicrous outing against the Rebels:274 receiving yardsSmith logged what might be the best receiving game in Alabama football history, catching 11 passes for 274 yards and five touchdowns (more on those scores in a minute). His 11 catches were only two away from tying the Alabama single-game record of 13, held by D.J. Hall (2007 vs. Tennessee) and Amari Cooper (2014, vs. Florida Atlantic and Auburn).Five touchdown receptionsNow, about those touchdowns: Smith caught five on the day, tying an SEC single-game record and obliterating Alabama’s old single-game mark of three. Several Alabama receivers have caught that many in a game, including Jerry Jeudy against New Mexico State on Sept. 7. Smith’s touchdowns Saturday went for 74, 25, 23, 33 and 27 yards, respectively.Six passing touchdownsMeanwhile, Tagovailoa broke his own record of passing touchdowns in a game, throwing six against Ole Miss. Smith was the primary recipient of those touchdowns, but Tagovailoa’s last touchdown went to tight end Miller Forristall from 19 yards out.Four five-passing-touchdown gamesPrior to the 2018 Iron Bowl, only one Alabama quarterback had ever thrown for five touchdowns in a game (coincidentally, it was when Gary Hollingsworth threw five against Ole Miss in 1989). Tagovailoa completed his fourth five-passing-touchdown game Saturday against the Rebels, and his third of the year. He’s the only quarterback in Alabama history to have completed the feat more than once.Seven touchdowns accounted forTagovailoa isn’t a one-dimensional player. On top of the six touchdown passes he threw, he also ran for one from 7 yards out. That gave him seven total touchdowns for the day, breaking the mark he set last year against Auburn, when he accounted for six.85 career touchdowns accounted forFor his career, Tagovailoa has accounted for 85 total touchdowns: 77 through the air, and eight on the ground. That puts him solely in first place and five ahead of AJ McCarron, who accounted for 80 touchdowns from 2010-13. The most impressive aspect of this stat is Tagovailoa still has several games left to play this season; by the time he’s finished in Tuscaloosa, his record might not be touched for a long, long time. Alabama put on quite the offensive display in its 59-31 win over Ole Miss on Saturday; more accurately, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and receiver DeVonta Smith put on the offensive display.Those two combined to tie or break six Alabama records in Bryant-Denny Stadium as the Tide advanced to 5-0 on the season. Tagovailoa was his usual accurate self, while Smith seemed unguardable. Postseason hardware may not be on these players’ minds, but they’ll definitely be up for a few if they continue playing at the same level they did on Saturday. 77 career passing touchdownsOne record Tagovailoa wasn’t able to break — but did tie — was career passing touchdowns. After tossing six through the air on Saturday, he tied McCarron for 77 in a career. That record will remain unbroken for at least another two weeks, when Alabama comes off a bye to play Texas A&M in College Station.72.2 completion percentageAs gaudy as the above stats are, what makes them more impressive is the fact Tagovailoa did it so efficiently: He completed 26 of 36 passes (72.2 percent) on the day. High volume combined with exceptional efficiency makes for a deadly combination.Zero turnoversTagovailoa turned in another zero-turnover day against the Rebs, giving him a 25-0 touchdown-turnover ratio this season. With seven games remaining in the regular season, that mark surely won’t last — but as long as it does, it will continue to remain an impressive feat.