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Life in Stanford University: Dublin High School’s Kyle Reed Discovers Product Design

March 2, 2018

DUBLIN, CA–Our next Life in College profile shares the college journey of Dublin High School Class of 2016 alum and Stanford University sophomore Kyle Reed who is majoring in Product Design (part of Stanford Engineering). Kyle shares thoughtful advice on discovering your passion after starting college(even when you aren’t sure going in) and managing “imposter syndrome”.

kyle_3 What were the key reasons you decided to attend Stanford University?

Kyle Reed: “I applied and was accepted for early action to Stanford and as a result didn’t end up applying to the other colleges I was considering. I like that Stanford does not require you to declare a major unlike many colleges where you have to choose your major when you apply. Going into my freshman year I had no idea what I wanted to do and liked having the opportunity to find my path.

“I had an idea that engineering would be an area of interest, but I really had no idea and focused on taking individual classes that I found interesting. That approach really helped me discover where I would major.” Describe the process of going from undeclared to settling on a major.

Reed: “I don’t need to formally declare a major until the end of my sophomore year which provides a long time to explore classes and options. For me it wasn’t until the Spring quarter of my freshman year that I discovered Product Design. I took an introductory class and fell in love with the process of designing things. I loved how much emphasis there is on creativity and free expression.

“Interestingly enough some of the classes that helped me decide on Product Design weren’t in the engineering discipline. I took a lot of art classes during my freshman year and that helped me learn how much I enjoy making things. I also took math and physics, and found I was not as interested in that part of engineering.” Describe your experience transitioning from Dublin High School to Stanford University.

Reed: “It was a huge difference, in particular because I am now living on my own. I didn’t come into Stanford with a set group of friends, had to make new friends and had to find a new path outside of my parents and the Dublin community. I felt that once I entered college any path was possible, and that it was up to me. It was both freeing and intimidating to have so many choices.” What advice do you have for students going through that transition?

Reed: “Pay attention to yourself and how you are feeling. It’s easy to lose your core. I’ve seen my friends deal with anxiety or depression and think a lot of that comes from being on your own and not having a connection with your family, pets or old friends who would help you deal with problems. Being on your own forces you to deal with problems in new ways. It’s important you stay true to who you want to become.” What activities have you become involved in outside of the classroom to help establish yourself at Stanford?

Reed: “I’ve tried a lot of different things – I was briefly part of the band, the ski team, the film club, the Stanford concert network – I wanted to branch and discover which communities best suited me. I advise trying out many different things and getting outside your comfort zone.” Talking to other students who attend highly selective schools like Stanford there’s been a theme of managing the “Imposter Syndrome”. Have you dealt with that challenge?

Reed: “I’ve dealt with Imposter Syndrome a lot, it’s very real here at Stanford. Everybody likes to act like they have their stuff together – that they know what they are doing – and that’s intimidating. I still find myself overwhelmed when comparing myself to others. The most important thing you can do is to stop comparing yourself to others because they are on a different path than you are, and they are not showing you everything that is going on in their lives. It’s like in social media where you only see the good parts and it can make you think your life isn’t as good, or you aren’t as successful, as those around you. Comparing yourself accurately to other people is really hard because you rarely know the full truth.

“It’s hard to not compare yourself to others, but it’s a powerful way to discover yourself.”

OneDublin: If you could go back to Dublin High School is there a teacher in particular you’d like to thank?


Kyle (far right) at the Dublin High School Film Festival

Reed: “I’d like to give a shout out to Mr. D’Ambrosio. Dublin High School’s Video Production class was one of the greatest experiences of high school if not my life. I still find myself wishing I had the freedom that class offered, and seek out that freedom when making course selections. Mr. D’Ambrosio’s class was so ‘freeing’ in a way that’s hard to describe.”

OneDublin: Finally, if you could go back in time to high school and other yourself advice, what would it be?

Reed: “Try to do what you want to do, rather than what you believe other people want you to do, is the most important advice I would give myself. That is a path to happiness.”

At the Dublin High School 2016 Senior Awards Night, Kyle Reed received the Presidential Gold and Gael Scholar awards, and was named a California Scholarship Federation Life Member.


Kyle (far left) at the Dublin High School Class of ’16 Commencement

One Comment
  1. Irene Padnos permalink
    March 2, 2018 1:45 pm

    Fantastic article!! Very proud of Kyle and the young man he has become!

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