Q&A with Sarah Crucilla
(Class of 2020)

Crucilla was scheduled to speak at the 2020 Torchbearers Appreciation Luncheon, which was canceled in compliance with the Safer at Home order.

What made you decide to come to Caltech?

Caltech was a top choice, and I will never forget when I found out I was accepted. No one was home, and I just ran around the house screaming until a neighbor came over to see what was going on. But before I made my decision, I visited campus and had dinner at one of the houses. I loved the culture. I always knew Caltech had amazing research opportunities, but ultimately I chose to come here because I felt at home.

Sarah Crucilla at Eureka Dunes,
Death Valley National Park, California

Did Caltech meet your expectations?

Definitely. I’ve done so many things that undergrads at most schools never get to do. I did two SURFs [Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships], and last summer I worked at JPL. I have handled rare minerals and have been trusted to use highly sensitive, very expensive equipment. In fact, my experience using a mass spectrometer helped me land the job I’ll start at Harvard after I graduate. And I absolutely love the house system and the people I’ve met.

Did you enjoy any opportunities you hadn’t anticipated?

As a member of the Interhouse Committee, I have met with Caltech administration to present students’ suggestions regarding house governance policies. It’s empowering to come to the table and interact with people of authority who believe that I have ideas worth listening to. And here’s something I really never imagined I would do: I helped paint a giant, crazy, bioluminescent structure of Atlantis for our Interhouse party last year.

Tell us about remote learning during your final term.

Professors have recorded their lectures and structured their courses in ways that encourage us to interact with them and with each other. And students can host their own small-group meetings on Zoom, so we’re still doing collaborative projects. I’m also a teaching assistant for Ge1 [Earth and the Environment]. It’s a course where we study rock and mineral specimens up close. It turns out there’s an online resource for examining 3-D models, so it’s even possible to teach a hands-on course remotely. What I miss most are the informal late-night house gatherings, but we’re making the best of it. Every Friday at 6:05 p.m., which is when we sit down for dinner in Blacker House, around 30 or 40 of us get on Zoom and eat dinner together.

Do you have any special messages for the members of the Torchbearers Legacy Society?

I wish I could thank the Torchbearers in person. The spring term is not what I imagined or wanted, but, in a way, I have found value in this turn of events because it has shown me that people don’t have to be physically in one place to be a community. Even here in New York, I feel a sense of connection with my friends, and I feel connected to Caltech’s donors. Their support has given me so much—from exceptional research opportunities to basic supplies. After all, students will always need pencils! So, to the Torchbearers, I say: “Thank you for being part of Caltech’s community. Thank you for caring. Without you, Caltech wouldn’t be the amazing, unique place it is. The world needs Caltech, and Caltech needs you!”