A Letter to the Class of 2017

To the Class of 2017,

Congratulations! The moment many of you have probably been waiting for is finally here. You are now seniors. As I watched you rush the senior steps nearly two weeks ago, I experienced a flood of emotions. At first I felt sad that my class had been “replaced”, but then I felt immediate relief that our long journey through college was almost over. As I finished and turned in my finals however, that feeling of relief quickly turned into longing. For as happy as I am to be finished with the rigor of Bryn Mawr, I am not nearly ready to be finished with my college experience completely. You have one more year in this place, and so I wanted to offer some words to consider as you embrace your seniority that I wish I had been told.

Don’t be afraid to set aside time for yourself. While it can be tempting to fill empty spaces in your schedule with work, other responsibilities, and commitments, if possible, try to leave some time for yourself. Senior year has many perks, but it comes with many unknowns, many stresses at times, and many things left to do. You will need this time to unwind, destress, hang out with friends, or just watch Netflix. At Bryn Mawr, I’ve noticed that it is all too easy for students to feel guilty when they choose to not work on school stuff, but as long as you manage your time and keep track of what you need to do, taking time for yourself can only help you do well.

Go out and enjoy the time you have with your friends. 9 months. That’s what stands between you and graduation when you come back to campus in August. It flies by incredibly fast. Enjoy every moment of those nine months. Go out to a restaurant you’ve never tried before, head to that museum you’ve always wanted to see, or go to that festival in center city. Thankfully with the technology we have today it will be easier to keep in touch with each other, but nothing can compare to the memories you make together.

It’s never too late to become involved (or even more involved) on campus. I didn’t find my groove on campus until spring semester of junior year. As a result, I have learned that it is never too late to join or become involved in activities, clubs, and organizations on campus. If you want to do it, do it.

Keep your goals in sight. No matter what your plans are after graduation, I found it easiest to get through the ups and downs of senior year by looking forward to my end goal. Whether that’s more school, a job, an internship, a service year, a gap year, or wherever your heart may lead you, planning for that and looking forward to it got me through some of the hardest parts of the year.

Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. I know, this is incredibly cliche, but it’s true. One day when I was walking back to my room, I stopped and stood in awe of Thomas. I am going to miss this beautiful campus. Because we live, work, study, and learn here it’s easy to forget how special this place can be. So go sit in the cloisters, or lounge in one of the hammocks and admire the nature and beauty that surrounds you.

And most importantly: don’t forget to celebrate yourself and your accomplishments. A wonderful professor told my class this semester that too often she hears students talk about their work in terms of what they couldn’t or weren’t able to do. I know I am guilty of this. She pushed us to change our frame of thinking from what we didn’t do, to what we had done. I want to push you to do the same. As you probably know, senior year is hectic and chaotic at times, and there are only so many hours in the day we can spend working and doing homework. So if you ever find yourself stressed or overwhelmed next year, stop and think about everything you have done in your academic career that has lead you to that point, and be proud. Be proud of being a mawrter, a senior, and a student. Be proud of what you have done, and think of ways to healthily keep working on the rest.


As I walked up the senior steps yesterday for what was probably the last time and rang the bell to ring in the end of my undergraduate career, my heart was heavy with emotions, just like it was on May Day as I watched you rush the same steps. Enjoy every moment of your senior year, and make the most of it. Anassa Kata, 2017. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.

Last Tastes of Philly

13177393_10206326012011181_4626714953447330551_nHave you ever heard of donuts, fried chicken, and coffee… served together? I hadn’t either! One day last week after work, a few friends and I drove into the city to enjoy Federal Donuts. Serving Korean- style fried chicken with a honey donut, Federal Donuts has turned Philadelphia a “fried chicken destination” according to an online article from last year. While we didn’t have to wait in line like I was expecting because of its popularity, the quickly dwindling donuts behind the counter were evidence of a busy and good day for the eatery. While I have to admit I wasn’t sure how I felt about the savory and sweet mix, the combination of tangy ranch and sweet honey was just right.

13096340_10206326012091183_1163314148597428784_nI was excited to share my Federal Donuts experience with some of my closest friends. Celebrating our last weekly dinner for our student group First Go-ers, it was the perfect little escape for all of us in between finals. As a senior in the group, it hit me how quickly the end of my time in Philadelphia was approaching as we spent time in the city. After our dinner adventure early in the week, I spent the next couple days working as hard as I could to finish my remaining finals. I am elated to share that last Thursday, I officially finished my undergraduate career. To celebrate, my best friends and I went into the city on Saturday.

13164217_10206358961754904_5018189429276057949_nWe went to El Vez, a restaurant we have tried for two and a half months to get a reservation for. After eating there, it was suddenly very clear why it was so hard to get a table! El Vez boasted six different kinds of guacamole which individually were big enough to share between four of us. For my entree, I ordered a taco sampler plate, and as you can see, it came with a little bit of everything! I got to try their pork carnitas, beef, chicken, crispy mahi mahi, and sea bass tacos, all of which were out of this world. If only we had discovered the restaurant earlier!

With less than a week left before graduation, I realized after that these two outings to Federal Donuts and El Vez were probably my last tastes of Philly, at least for now! I’d say we ended our culinary experience and college career in Philadelphia on a high and delicious note!

A Grand May Day To Me

13087352_10206326007811076_4578271050087353576_nEvery year since 1900, Bryn Mawr students have gathered at the beginning of May to celebrate May Day, which is the last major tradition of the year. On the Sunday after the last day of classes, we put aside our homework and studying for a day to de-stress and have fun before finals begin. Students don a variety of white outfits, typically waking up early to begin the festivities and spend the day enjoying performances, eating with friends, and relaxing on Merion Green. There’s May Pole dancing, concerts, and many fun activities throughout the day. Since 1906 and every four years after that, Bryn Mawr has celebrated a Grand May Day, where like the name suggests, the festivities are done and enjoyed on an even larger scale. My class got to enjoy Grand May Day during our sophomore year, and the next one won’t be experienced until May of 2018. However, after experiencing my last May Day as a current student last weekend, there are many reasons why this May Day was pretty grand to me.

13118975_10206326006611046_6290228184361907125_nWe started the day (not so) bright and early by climbing one of the towers of Rockefeller dorm. Since Rock is where I lived this year, it was even more special to view campus from the very top of it. After coming down, we headed over to the Wyndham Alumnae House where we ate strawberries and cream, the traditional May Day breakfast. Since Mother Nature sadly did not cooperate, we all grabbed our umbrellas and headed to the middle of campus to watch the May Day parade, listen to President Cassidy speak, and watch the classes compete during the May Pole dance. Despite it being dreary and muddy however, the reason my last May Day was so grand was because of my friends.

May Day can be a difficult time of year because students are happy classes are over, but face the remainder of their finals in the coming weeks. As seniors, we have half the amount of time as underclassmen to complete our finals and undergraduate work because professors have to have our grades in early to ensure everything is in place for graduation. (Shout out to all of our incredible professors who have helped get us to this point in our academic careers and have worked so hard to help us along this journey called college!) May Day feels like the calm before the academic storm. Sadly for us, May Day and the days surrounding it were full of literal storms, and so it didn’t feel like we got the sunny day full of fun to recharge before finals like we usually do.

13094384_10206312137144318_2664439339157095438_nWe spent most of our day after the morning’s festivities inside because of the rain, but even on the gloomiest of days, I know my friends are always there for and can cheer me up. Bryn Mawr became my second home because of the friends and community I found here. Whether it’s needing a push to finish your work, or needing somebody to vent to after a hard day, I know the women I have met and have the honor to call my friends will be there, rain or shine. Bryn Mawr’s traditions are always a reminder of that.

13094113_10206326010531144_51100458808985062_nMay Day is a unique tradition because at the end of it, the community begins to say goodbye to the seniors and welcome the junior class into senior status. It’s a moment of excitement and sadness at the same time. It was very emotional to see so many people that night who have made an impact on my life and been with me through my four years.

To my Bryn Mawr sisters and friends, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making May Day and my time at Bryn Mawr filled with joy, laugher, tears (of the best kind), and love. Anassa Kata 2016, we’re almost there!

When Done Is (Almost) So Good

April is a stressful month for college students. The last few weeks of the year are chaotic and hectic to say the least with seniors finishing theses, tying up lose ends, and everybody preparing for and taking finals. I find myself marveling at the end of each year how quickly the semesters and academic year flew by, and this year is no different. I remember writing back at the end of January about taking and celebrating the first step of beginning my thesis like it was just yesterday. Flash forward three months, nine interviews, and 23,910 words, and I am ecstatic to share I have completed and submitted my senior thesis.IMG_9857

The process has certainly been a whirlwind of emotions, full of ups and downs. I am so humbled and grateful to the individuals who took the time out of their busy days and lives to speak with me, and to my professors who supported and helped me tackle such a large project. I learned more than I could have imagined throughout the research process, and now that I’m finished, I need a wheelbarrow to take all my books back to the library! Being a senior has certainly had its perks, and being able to say that I completed such an extensive project certainly makes me feel both happy and proud. After taking a few days “off” to relax after finishing my thesis, it’s time to get back to work! I have three finals and 16 days until I can officially say that Done Is Good… forever! Well, at least for undergrad 😉

Perks of Being a Senior

You get to hang out with the President at her house!12919651_10206141408316204_3264127441256859673_n

One of the things seniors look forward to at the end of the year is attending Bryn Mawr’s Senior Dinner. Each year, the President opens up her home to celebrate the near- completion of our senior year, and our time at Bryn Mawr. It’s especially fitting because during our first week on campus as a freshman, we are invited to the President’s house for a dessert reception, and we end our time at BMC by returning to the same place!

12809724_10206141409116224_8017842457559840766_nIt was so much fun to get dressed up and see friends and peers in this happy and celebratory atmosphere. Dinner was of course delicious, (a huge thank you to everybody who helped put it together and make the night so memorable!) and President Cassidy made her way to each table during the dinner to share in our conversation and celebration. We are very lucky to have a President who is so invested, not just in the college itself, but in each and every one of its students. For example, I had the awesome opportunity to take a course with President Cassidy in the fall. Her commitment to teaching at the college, as well as being at its helm, is just one of the many ways she shows her connection and investment in students and the community.

And… hang out with the President in New York City!

IMG_9642Each year, students who are receiving a Bryn Mawr grant are asked to submit a scholarship profile, with the goal of being able to share our voices and experiences with donors of the college. We get to virtually share with them a little bit about our background, what we’re studying, and what we hope to do after graduation.  A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a scholarship event hosted by President Cassidy at an alumna’s apartment in New York City. I was extremely eager to accept, and last Wednesday, I got to attend and meet two of the incredible individuals who have helped make attending Bryn Mawr possible for me and my family.

IMG_9652My Bryn Mawr Grant is generously funded by the Class of 1958 Scholarship Fund, and I was honored to be able to meet a couple who has graciously donated to that fund so that I could have the privilege of saying that I am a student, and soon-to-be graduate of Bryn Mawr. I, and the other current students who were invited (who were from all class years!), got to mix and mingle with some of the donors to the many scholarships BMC provides to make attending our college more feasible and realistic for families. It was inspiring and incredibly humbling to be around and speak with so many individuals who were all committed to helping make attending Bryn Mawr a reality for me, my peers, and future mawrters to come. I am forever grateful to the members of the Class of 1958, and to all donors and their families for their generosity and dedication to Bryn Mawr students.

And… get invited to the Parent Welcome Reception for the Class of 2020!

IMG_9766As a thank you to senior tour guides in the office, we are invited to attend one of the Welcome Receptions hosted by the Admissions Office for parents of newly admitted students who could be part of Bryn Mawr’s Class of 2020. I can hardly believe that we are already welcoming the next class of baby blues. I have worked as a tour guide for the last three years, and each year as I give tours to future generations of mawrters, I can’t help but think back to my first visit on campus. One of the best parts of being a tour guide is seeing the look on students’ faces as they walk around campus for the first time.

As with all Bryn Mawr events, the food and company were fabulous, and it was an honor to meet and speak with parents about why I chose and stayed at Bryn Mawr. Members of the campus community were present, as well as President Cassidy, and together, we got to welcome our guests to BMC, and share everything we love about it. It was a fun event, and I’m so thankful I got to attend! This weekend is full of admitted student events, and I can’t wait to welcome the Class of 2020 to my second home!

Being a senior has a ton of perks, and these were just a handful! There is just about a month left before graduation, and just over two weeks until my thesis is due… While it feels overwhelming at times, I keep reminding myself that done is almost so good, and to celebrate each day I have left in this beautiful place. More to come!

Day at the Museum

Have you ever wondered how much a group of students could geek out about Anthropology and museums? Well after spending the day at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City last Friday, I can personally tell you that it is *a lot*. In a couple previous blogs, I have talked about my love for Bryn Mawr’s new Museum Studies program. After our visit on Friday, I am even more inspired by, in love with, and excited to see the program grow.

IMG_9464We started our visit off with a lunch of authentic New York pizza and conversation with six incredible members of the museum’s education department. Each educator talked to us about their path to their current position, and as somebody who is interested in museums and their intersections with education programming, I was fascinated to hear how they had become part of the museum’s team. After lunch, we made our way into the inner-workings of the museum building and quite literally got to go behind the scenes. On the way to our next stop, we walked through hallways lined with offices and cases full of artifacts. It was breathtaking to realize that even though the museum has an amazingly large amount of artifacts and objects on display, there are even more artifacts that are not on permanent display. If only museums had infinite amounts of space!

IMG_9465Besides being in awe of having the opportunity to see a side of the museum that not many visitors get access to, by walking through the hallways of the museum behind the scenes, we got to literally walk in the footsteps of Margaret Mead, who through her work helped popularize American Anthropology. This is where the geeking out came in! As an Anthropology major, it was surreal to be a place where not only one, but two prominent individuals in your field had once worked and left their mark on. Franz Boas, who is known as the father of American Anthropology also worked at the AMNH, and according to one of the curators we were fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with, the museum is where Boas decided American Anthropology should be taught using a four- field approach including Cultural, Biological, Linguistic, and Archaeology, a practice the Bryn Mawr Anthro. department still practices today.


Fellow Banter Blogger Maeve and I in front of Margaret Mead’s office!

The curator we spoke with also talked to us about what it was like to work with Margaret Mead, and even had her rocking chair right in his office, which one of my classmates got to sit in! She once told him that the classroom should not get in the way of students’ learning, a comment that has continued to stay in mind. I was struck by it, because it really highlights the need for programs like Museum Studies at BMC, and the other PRAXIS courses we offer that make field sites outside of the college integral to students’ learning. Our syllabus came to life, as we were able to see the artifact that is pictured on its first page. That is a cool feeling! We can learn incredible amounts from lectures, discussions, and our textbooks, but nothing can compare to the learning you get from immersing yourself in a place.

Our next stop was the Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples where we got to hear about the intricacies of museum display, communication with cultures represented in the hall, and the effects of popular media on the museum. After all was said and done, we had about an hour of free time to explore the museum before we had to board the van back to Bryn Mawr. While we all would have loved even more free time to explore, we were all exhausted after such a full day of learning, questioning, and discussing. I’m sad that my time in the Museum Studies program is coming to a close, but as I’ve said before in my blogs, I am beyond ecstatic that the program will continue to grow and expose students to these incredible places and the people who make them what they are today.

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Storybook Steps- A Celtic Dance Festival

IMG_9434Last weekend, one of my best friends and I had the fantastic opportunity to go to the premiere of Rince na Mawr’s performance of “Storybook Steps”. It was the perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick’s day on campus! Rince na Mawr is Bryn Mawr’s Irish Dance Club, and it was a phenomenal experience to watch our classmates and peers perform such beautiful, graceful, and engaging dances. The dance festival took place in Rhoads Old Dining Hall, which in my opinion, is one of the most gorgeous rooms on campus.


FullSizeRender (6)The first act was a creative rendition of the story “Brave” which tells the tale of Merida, the daughter of a Scottish King and Queen who wants to go her own way, against the wishes of the Highland lords, who want her to follow tradition. The music was perfectly matched with the dances, and the costumes were both cute and creative. The second act was a series of dances that were just as delightful to watch. I am still in awe of the coordination the dancers had, and it was evident they were having fun, not just with what they were doing, but being with each other as well.

IMG_9436Watching their performance was such a great way to begin the weekend and celebrate St. Paddy’s day! I am so happy we were able to witness the dancers’ passion, hard work, and talents during their show.

Spring is Blooming!

PicCollageI can’t believe Spring Break has come and gone! I was so lucky to be able to spend a few days with part of my incredible family. It of course went by too quickly, but I am so grateful for the time I was able to spend with them. I was surprised however to land to a sprinkling of snow on the ground in Cincinnati, and I know Philly got some snow too! It was definitely not very spring- like. However, in first few days I was back at Bryn Mawr, we experienced temperatures in the 70s, and flowers are starting to bloom ! I think we even broke 80 degrees one day last week, and I could not be more happy, because boy am I done with the cold temperatures! While I was visiting my family, we got to spend some really wonderful time together, see a movie, enjoy some delicious food, and relax together. It was definitely the breather I needed 🙂

I spent the second half of break working on my thesis. Over the course of two days, I spent 10 hours at Starbucks typing away. I conducted two more interviews, continued transcribing my previous interviews, and actually started writing! I am so excited to be drafting my paper, and seeing how the experiences of the incredible people I have had the privilege of talking to relate to each other, as well as my own experience as somebody who is preparing to become a teacher next year. I can’t wait to see how my paper unfolds. As I mentioned in my blogs earlier this semester, I am still dedicated to celebrating the small things, and because I made some progress on my thesis, I had a lot to celebrate last week! How did I celebrate, you ask? By going to the Philadelphia Flower Show!

IMG_9360Since it was my first time going to the show, I didn’t know what to expect. I boarded the train, and it seemed like everybody was going to the show! I got off and was able to follow the giant crowd directly from the platform to the Philadelphia Convention Center where the show was hosted. This year’s theme was called, “Explore America” and was a celebration of 100 years of the National Park Service. About half of the convention center space was filled with gorgeous and elaborate flower displays making up scenes and imagery from different national parks across the country.

IMG_9363The other half of the space was full of vendors selling everything from you guessed it, flowers (sooooo many flowers), to garden supplies, antiques, and everything in between. I went on the last Friday of the show and so while the lobby of the convention center and trains were overflowing with visitors, surprisingly, the flower displays themselves were not too crowded, which was really nice! I got to take some awesome photos, and the displays were truly beautiful. If only I had remembered to take an allergy pill! If one of the vendors had been selling them, I’m sure they would have made a mint 😉 I really enjoyed the show, and it was just what I needed to celebrate and relax before classes started again.

Here are some more photos!


Scene depicting Yosemite National Park


Display of flowers found in Death Valley


I missed where this was supposed to be, but the pond and waterfall were so pretty!

#112 Understand Wawa

IMG_9298As I look at the remaining tasks on the bucket list and talk to my friends about them, I have come to realize that for many of them, I am coming very late to the party! Since freshman year, I have heard friends talking about making “Wawa runs” at all hours of the evening and night. I thought it was just popular among my friends and fellow college students, but there was an article published just yesterday about the “cult of Wawa” and how “Here in the Philadelphia area, Wawa is much more than a convenience store. It is a provider, a security blanket, [and] a beacon in the dark” (philly.com, 2016)

IMG_9296How could I go my four years without stopping in? So without further ado, I tagged along with a friend when she made her Wawa run one night last week. A couple nights before I had a big research project and film presentation due, I was definitely in need of caffeine and a midnight snack. Wawa was certainly able to provide both! In addition to convenience store-like offerings like drinks, snacks, and coffee, Wawa has a hot food counter, speciality hot/iced beverage bar, and even a fresh pastry display. There were honestly too many choices! I ended up getting an iced coffee and turkey cheddar wrap. With those in hand, I was able to start tackling my two big projects! With my thesis due in a couple months, I’m sure I’ll be making some more Wawa runs before I leave!

“An Independence Pass please.”

Riding the train into the city is unfortunately pretty expensive, around $14 for a roundtrip ticket. There is a special type of ticket called an Independence Pass which is only $12 dollars and can be used an infinite amount of times any one day on regional rail trains, the subways, buses, and trolleys. Freshman year I remember asking the conductor for a roundtrip ticket into the city and receiving one of these independence passes. Seeing the confused look on my face, he explained how purchasing a pass saved passengers a little money. It was really nice of him to do that, and I’ve noticed most conductors do the same. Yesterday evening I purchased my seventh independence pass in two weeks. Considering I usually make my way into Philly once a month if I’m lucky, the past couple of weeks have certainly been full of craziness, exploration, and many things to see and do.

IMG_9222Two weeks ago, my Museum Anthropology class made our way to the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology for a visit. In a blog last semester, I talked about Bryn Mawr’s incredible new Museum Studies program, and I am thrilled I was able to take the next course, “Museum Anthropology” this semester. After walking through and visiting their new exhibit, “The Golden Age of King Midas” we had the opportunity to speak with two very influential members of the museum’s staff. We had really rich discussion throughout our visit and it was really neat to have such a close experience with the collections and people that bring them to life!

As you might have read last week, my next visit into the city was to take the TExES teacher certification exam which is required for me to be able to teach in Texas after graduation. My trip that day had a sweet beginning though, as I stopped by Reading Terminal Market for a treat and some caffeine before my test. The other six trips into Center City were related to my thesis research, which I am very happy to share is going really well!

FullSizeRender (5)To get to important events and interviews over the past couple of weeks, I took a mix of the subway and regional rail, which is where my independence pass was particularly handy! It was my first time taking the Market- Frankford line, one of Philadelphia’s two subway lines, and I am proud to have navigated it by myself! (It honestly isn’t difficult, but still 😉 ) I really wish I had explored this transportation option much sooner as it opens up and makes so much more of the city easy to access.

IMG_9274Because I was in the city so often the last two weeks, I have had the opportunity to see downtown Philadelphia in ways I haven’t seen it before. Going in and out of 30th Street Station so many times, it really struck me how beautiful the station building and the skyline behind it is, which is all too easy to take for granted when you are running for a train or dashing out into the city. This weekend I was in the city so much that I was able to watch the city wake up at 8am, watch the sun go down on downtown, and observe how night transforms the station into a piece of glittering beauty under the bright lights.

IMG_9289I regret not exploring Philadelphia as much as I thought I would when I first moved up here for college. I haven’t for a couple different reasons, most of all because we are always so busy. But with a few months left, I am going to try my hardest to see even more of this City of Brotherly Love before I head back to Texas!