#9 Discover Your Favorite Hope’s Cookie

IMG_9284Another week, another bucket list item completed. After almost four years, I have finally not only discovered my favorite Hope’s cookie, but had my very first one as of this Sunday! Hope’s Cookies is very popular shop on the mainline, sharing a space with another local favorite (especially at the colleges!) Peace a Pizza. Fun fact, Hope’s was opened by a fellow mawrter! Everybody I talked to couldn’t believe I had never had one of their cookies before, but that’s only because the Peanut Butter Cup ice cream they offer is to die for, and I have always ordered a scoop over a cookie. Being number nine on the original BMC bucket list, I knew I had to discover my favorite flavor before the semester was over.

And the winner is…. the White Chocolate Cranberry!

A Community Day of Learning

cdl session copyAs Bryn Mawr students, we are very fortunate to have a college and administration that supports its community in the best ways it knows how. One of the ways the college has responded to recent requests for dialogues around important issues on campus has been to create Community Days of Learning (CDL) where all classes are cancelled, offices are closed, and all members of the community are encouraged to attend sessions throughout the day focused on the highlighted topic. Last year, our CDL was on race, and this year it was on issues surrounding class.

IMG_9247One of my favorite parts of these days is that students are allowed and encouraged to organize and facilitate sessions. I am honored to say that I was able to facilitate a session with two fellow members of First Goers, the student group for first- generation college students on Bryn Mawr’s campus. Our session was called “Debunking Bryn Mawr: Perceptions and Realities of the Student Body”. To plan for it, we researched different statistics that we personally felt were really important for members of the community to be aware of.

At 10:15, the start time for our session, people started filing in, and they didn’t stop! We were not sure how many people to expect and so we had prepared for 40 thinking that would be too many. To our surprise, we had about 70 members of the community in attendance! We were ecstatic to see the response and interest in our session. To begin, we handed out index cards and asked people to make guesses about the different statistics we showed them. After discussing with their neighbors why they made the estimates they did, we revealed the real numbers. Some of the statistics we revealed were:

% of students receiving need-based financial aid: 49.7% (659 students received a Need-Based grant)

% of students receiving Pell grants: 14.0% (186 students received a Pell grant)

% of students who work on campus as part of work study: 46.3% (615 students received some amount of work study aid – Federal and/or College)

% of 1st generation students: 16.4% (218 students are First Generation)

% of 1st generation students receiving a Pell grant: 42.7% (93 of the 218 First Generation Students received a Pell grant)

IMG_9249There were literal gasps from some members of the audience when they saw the true numbers, and others were surprised to see how close or far off their guesses had been. We had them divide into four groups in order to create space for a deeper discussion of the numbers and questions we had created for them. Each of us went to a group to help facilitate, but they didn’t need it! The faculty, staff, students, and community members that participated had incredibly rich discussions and were willing to share their experiences, hopes, and thoughts with their small group as well as the group as a whole.

At the end of the session, the three of us that co-facilitated talked about why it was important to us for people to be aware of the statistics. I spoke about how as a tour guide, we love to tell prospective students about how at Bryn Mawr, we are more than just a number. We are very proud of this, as we should be, but at the same time, this can let numbers that really do matter fall into the background when they should be at the forefront of people’s minds. The statistics we revealed and our participants discussed about may be two-dimensional, but they represent the lived experiences of students on our campus and impact their relationships and ways in which they navigate and experience their time at BMC. It is incredibly important for our community to be aware of the backgrounds students come from so that we can support them in the best ways we can.

It was an incredible experience to be part of such a significant and meaningful day on our campus. It was also inspiring to see so many members of the community engaged throughout the day and in different sessions about these topics and issues that impact our community. While the Community Day of Learning is only one day, these conversations need to be discussed throughout the year, and I hope the conversations started yesterday continue as we always have “mawr” to learn. Thank you to everybody who made our learning yesterday possible! I am so proud to be a member of this community.


#128 Eat a beignet at Reading Terminal Market

IMG_9233After three and a half years of trying, I am very happy to say I have FINALLY eaten beignets at Reading Terminal Market and can cross it off my bucket list. Every time we have visited, my mom has always tried to order some so that I could try them, and every time we have been met with the same response, “Sorry, we’re sold out!” And since they only make them certain days of the week, it made it even harder to get a coveted order.

Last Friday I made my into the city to take my Texas teaching exam required for me to become certified to teach in Texas after graduation. The testing center was right next to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell which meant I took the train to Jefferson station to get there. Since Reading Terminal Market is right next door to the train station, I went into the city a couple hours early to try and get my beignets, and to my surprise they were still serving them! I got my order of six small beignets and a coffee from Old City Coffee and sat down to enjoy my long anticipated treat. It was a great way to start my morning and made taking my over 200 question exam that afternoon a little sweeter! I now have two items from my additions to the bucket list left and at least 12 from the original list that I want to complete before graduation, which is now 79 (EEP) days away. Stay tuned for more posts about completing my bucket list!

Acronyms, Lunches, and Discussions oh my!

Bryn Mawr has hosted so many events this month, and we aren’t even half way done with February! After attending the Life After Bryn Mawr talk (see my last blog for more info!), I signed up to participate in LILAC’s Alumna-in-Residence programming yesterday afternoon.

LILAC_logoLILAC stands for Leadership, Innovation, and Liberal Arts Center, and it is an incredible resource for students on campus. Most students may have heard about LILAC in relation to their summer internship funding program through which students can apply for and if selected, earn a stipend to complete an unpaid internship during the summer. This is just one of many ways they serve as resources to students helping us bridge our passions, work interests, and academic interests with communities outside of Bryn Mawr. The Alumna-in-Residence program allows current students to speak with alumnae/i in small groups throughout different programming during the day about their profession, path after Bryn Mawr, and advice for students interested in expanding their surroundings, whether that be through an internship, volunteering, job, and anything in between.IMG_9204

Yesterday we had the privilege of spending time with Mahnoor Ahmed ’03, who is working in Higher Education as the Associate Director of Student Diversity & Development at Towson University. The first session I attended was a lunch and discussion in the Wyndham Alumnae House restaurant here on campus. There were about ten students present and we were able to hear about Ms. Ahmed’s journey from her time at Bryn Mawr to her present position. I also attended a later session with her and two other students, which provided a more personalized space to ask questions. Her discussion with us was full of advice and truly invaluable information about how to navigate your time in undergraduate school, through to the “real” world, and beyond. Her words were especially meaningful to me, as she discussed her decision to pursue a field that made her happy, and how to move confidently in the direction of our passions, even if it is not the expected path.

I really enjoyed the event and look forward to future Alumna-in-Residence programming. To summarize my experience, some of the most meaningful things I took from her conversations with us were:

Invest in yourself. If you don’t do this, you can’t invest in others. This means that we must advocate for ourselves in order to ever be in a position where we can advocate for others. This involves the second tip she gave of us which was,

Find a mentor. Ms. Ahmed encouraged us to find mentors who will hold us accountable and be invested in our growth. I’ve always had a very cookie-cutter idea of what a mentor is, but she explained that there is no right or wrong kind. Further, she discussed the importance of building networks to help us navigate our professions, interests, and lives.

Make the most out of your Liberal Arts education. As Ms. Ahmed discussed, dreams change. We should not be afraid of this however because our liberal arts education has given us a tool box to use to move around and adjust to new surroundings.

Whenever you are able, do what serves you and makes you happy, as this is a radical act of self love. This one especially hit home for me. I chose to go into education, to work towards becoming a teacher. Hearing her talk about how important it is to do things we love and give us life helped further validate my decision, and made me feel even more confident about following my love for teaching. Similarly,

Success is relative. Right now, we are in an environment where everything revolves around numbers. Our GPA, our graduate testing scores, our class rank. Success is not one thing over another, it’s the result of trying our hardest and being happy with our choices. Because of this, we cannot and should not compare our success to others, as they are not on the same path, and our passions will not always overlap.

Exist in other spaces. Being a rigorous and academically demanding institution, it is easy to become so consumed in Bryn Mawr life that it is impossible to be involved outside of it. Ms. Ahmed eloquently spoke about how if you exist in other spaces, you give yourself the ability to grow. This piece of advice will always be relevant, whether we are inside the Bryn Mawr bubble or beyond it.

Life 101: How to Adult

e1c7719a6542745a518956187aabc610At the beginning of last semester, this meme was floating around the internet. It perfectly captured how I was feeling about recently turning 21 and preparing to enter the “real” world. During my internship last summer, one of my students came up to me and asked permission to do something. My first instinct was to tell them to ask “an adult” until I realized that I *was* the adult in the room, and I had the authority to give them an answer. The idea of becoming a better, “adultier adult” is especially relevant right now as I am starting to think about postgraduate life, expenses, and worries. Luckily for me, and every mawrter, Bryn Mawr has created programming geared towards helping students become prepared and confident adultier adults.

IMG_9187Last night I attended the second talk, “Life After Bryn Mawr: Can You Pay My Bill?” with a handful of other seniors. Alums from different class years and staff from supporting departments and programs on campus were on hand to provide insight into postgraduate life, with this talk thinking specifically about finances and budgeting. Our first activity was to fill out a sample budget sheet with blank spaces for things like rent, cell phone, entertainment, charity, and insurance just to name a few necessities and luxuries that made the list. Looking at all of the rows and columns needing an estimate, it was pretty easy to get overwhelmed with all of the expenses associated with living outside of Bryn Mawr’s castle-like walls. The alums and staff however were there to calm our worries and give insight into how to make it all more manageable.


Milk and cookies make everything better!

We spent the rest of the time listening to the panel members talk about their experiences after college with money, finances, and budgeting, and we had an opportunity to ask questions. Throughout the discussion, words and terms swirled around us, some of which we weren’t familiar with. Everybody present was more than willing to explain and share their personal experiences with us which was very comforting and made the idea of finances post-college less intimidating. And, in true Bryn Mawr fashion, we were able to fill our tummies as we filled our minds with this truly invaluable information.

The two main ideas I came away from the discussion with were:

Figure out what is important to you. The alums made it clear that when coming up with our budgets, we should base it on what is important to us, and not necessarily on what is expected. What is important to one person may not be as important to somebody else, and that’s okay.

Being “independent” does not mean being alone. Just because we move into the real world does not mean that we can no longer ask for help, guidance, or support.

I’ve noticed during my time here that so much of what we talk about is getting through Bryn Mawr, but there isn’t as much conversation about what happens after we leave. I am so grateful for this series of talks about life after college and look forward to future events. It’s one thing to google these things, or read about them in books/online, but hearing from alumnae/i who have experienced what life is like at Bryn Mawr and then navigated the “real world”, makes hearing and understanding the information that much easier and more familiar. Thank you to everybody involved in this series! I am already feeling more confident knowing how much support there is for us, not only while we are on campus, but when we leave as well.

Taking (and Celebrating) the First Step

In my last blog post, I wrote about my goal of making an effort to notice, appreciate, and celebrate the small things during my day and in my life. I began work on my thesis this weekend, a project that is due in its entirety on April 29th. My nonchalant first thought when I heard this was, “Cool, it’s not due until April”. However, that very quickly became a panicked, “OH MY GOSH IT’S DUE IN APRIL.”

One of my assignments for this week was to make a week by week plan with everything I need to do for my project leading up to Spring Break. As I was filling it out, I realized there are now only five full weeks until break. While I would usually be ecstatic about that, I am hoping for once that the weeks don’t go by too quickly. There are two reasons for this. First, because that means I will need to have all of my data collected for my thesis and be ready to begin the writing process, and two, because I will have that much less time with my friends and mentors who have become an integral part of my life.

IMG_9110So, in the spirit of my new goal, one of my best friends and I went out Saturday night to celebrate both each other and my small accomplishment: taking the first of many steps towards completing my thesis. We finally made it to a restaurant we have been dying to try since the first week of classes last semester. We had dinner at Xolo Tacos, and after being spoiled with authentic food from home over break, I had really high hopes for our meal. It was beyond my expectations! We sat next to the kitchen and had a front row view to all of the delicious food coming out sizzling and steaming away. It certainly made our mouths water and stomachs growl waiting for our own yummy dinners.

IMG_9112We had a fantastic night, and we made a promise to have more nights like it with our friends. While we were only away for a couple of hours, we got to break the Bryn Mawr bubble, get off campus, enjoy some truly incredible food, and make another night of memories. While the prospect of my thesis still feels rather daunting, it felt good to celebrate friendship and the first (however small) step towards finishing my project. I am reminded of a quote by Lao Tzu which has gotten me through many big projects, decisions, and of course journeys, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

No matter how small.

The Little Things in the Big Picture

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View of the Franklin Mountains approaching El Paso from a day trip to New Mexico with family

After my first winter break as a frosh, I struggled with a second wave of homesickness when I returned to campus for the spring semester. I was told by an upperclassman that it gets easier leaving home each time as you got older. That being said, you would think by this point in my undergraduate career it would at least be easier to leave home and come back to school. I can tell you that for me, it still difficult to leave home. Honestly, I feel like it always will be because after all, home is home. No matter how much of a home we find in the places we move to and live, there will always be something irreplaceable about going back to where you came from.


Mini high school reunion 🙂

It was particularly hard to come back this spring for two reasons. Firstly, because of my interview in Houston, I got home much earlier than I would have normally. As a result, I was home for just over five weeks, the longest amount of time I’ve been able to spend at home since I’ve been at Bryn Mawr. I am very grateful for this, as I was able to spend quality time with family and friends. The second reason was knowing that once I came back, it would be the beginning of the end. As I landed in Philadelphia it struck me that it could be the last time I was flying into the area, at least as a college student.

12439246_10205572381250883_1890383707971639523_nWhen I got back to school, I made it a priority to begin getting back into a schedule and routine to try and make settling back into the rigor of Bryn Mawr after over a month off as easy as possible. The semester started and if there’s one thing BMC’s academic and social culture doesn’t understand, it’s the idea of slowly easing into things. It’s only the second day of the second week and my calendar is already flooded with to-do lists, meeting times, and emails to send. Having received the green light to begin collecting data for my thesis, I also have that on my mind. While I am thrilled and extraordinarily excited about that, there is so much going on already that it is very easy to get hung up on what’s happening in the upcoming weeks and months that we forget to notice and cherish what is happening in the moment.

12631419_10205597246832507_3012348020186259017_nOne thing I am going to make sure to do this semester is notice and appreciate the small things… small accomplishments… things that would usually go unnoticed when there are so many other things we are trying to juggle. One thing that was impossible not to notice was the blizzard we had over the weekend! Winter Storm Jonas brought us mawr snow than we knew what to do with! (See what I did there? 🙂 ) There is certainly beauty all around us, snow or no snow, and I am going to be soaking up every bit of it the next four months.


Home for the Holidays

IMG_8803It’s so good to be home and taking a break from the hustle and bustle of senior year! When I was packing to come home, I left all of my heavy sweaters and boots at school because I never dreamed I’d need them in El Paso, which is known as the Sun City. We earned that name by having nearly 300 days of sunshine a year. After this weekend, you wouldn’t be able to tell! The day after Christmas, it started raining, quickly turned into into sleet, and by nighttime, it was snowing! Our area had been under a Winter Storm Warning issued by the National Weather Service, but usually that means we get a dusting if we’re lucky. When they predicted 6 to 9 inches we didn’t believe them! Low and behold, it kept snowing and snowing all day and night.

It was so much fun to wake up two days after Christmas to a winter wonderland in the desert. I put on my scarf and hat and started playing! You know you grew up in the desert when you ask your mom things like, “How do you build a snowman?” and “How do you make a snow angel?” In the past when it has snowed, there is usually only a shallow layer and so when you try to make an angel you hit the dirt below. We must have had over half a foot because I was able to make one without any problems, but boy was it cold. D: With the help of my mom, we made a snowman that actually looked like a snowman! I searched the house for things to use for his face and buttons, and eventually decided on some chocolate kisses, leftover cranberries, and of course a carrot for his nose!

IMG_8808Despite having this awesome and unexpected snow storm, we still had to work against the sun as it kept popping out from behind the clouds just long enough to keep melting off our snowmen’s eyes and nose. After an hour outside, we decided to head in hoping the best for our frozen friend. Our fun in the snow was a wonderful surprise and a nice break from the warmer temperatures we were having in Bryn Mawr. While I’ve loved the cold and snow, I’m definitely ready for it to warm up just a bit. I hope everybody had a wonderful holiday weekend and best wishes for the New Year! More next week in… 2016! (Can you believe that? I certainly can’t!) Happy New Year to all!


The Sun City eventually did live up to its name, and unfortunately, my Olaf finally found out what summer feels like. 🙁

When Done is Good (Enough)

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through a Mawrter’s house                                 Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.                                                         Her finals were submitted by e-mail with care,                                                                     In hopes that her grades soon would be there.

She was nestled all snug in her bed,                                                                            While visions of lanterns and owls danced in her head.                                                  And with graduation just a semester away, thinking of her cap,                               She finally settled her brain for a long winter’s nap.*

*Inspired by Clement Clarke Moore’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas”

Oh how I wish things were this simple! Bryn Mawr is a very rigorous institution. There is no denying that. As a result, during the academic year in general, but especially during finals and the period of time we spend waiting for grades after we submit everything can be a taxing and anxious time for many students. Within this environment, it becomes too easy to put so much stress on and hold ourselves to impossibly high standards, making it hard to realize and appreciate just how much we accomplish and are capable of. Throughout my seven semesters at BMC, therel1864778764 have been multiple times when I have wondered how I made it to Bryn Mawr and questioned if I belonged there amongst so many incredibly intelligent classmates. Junior and senior year have been the most difficult for me. Wondering which internships to apply for, which classes to take, wondering how I would fit studying for the GRE in, applying for jobs, working multiple work study jobs, and planning a thesis have made for a busy and stressful two years. Second semester of senior year might be a little less hectic, but graduation and the emotions and new beginnings that will bring are both daunting and exciting in their own respects.

My undergraduate journey so far has made me realize something incredibly important I wish I had been told during freshman year. While it is of course important for us to put our all into our work, we must also remember that we are human, there are limits to how much we can take and do well with, and we are not perfect. We try our best and our hardest, but we must remember to make time for and take care of ourselves, mentally, emotionally, and physically. We have a tradition at Bryn Mawr where we make “Done is Good” lists. You get together with your friends and write down a list of all the things you have to get done by the end of the semester. Next to each task, you put a piece of candy and as you finish each item, you get to eat the candy as a reward. As people finish all of their work for the semester, Facebook becomes flooded with statuses saying “Done is Good”. While it is most definitely a wonderful feeling when everything is done and submitted, I know how easy it is to worry and fret over completed work, afraid it’s not enough.

l_38d005c0-6e4b-11e1-ba13-498d1e700001A close friend of mine reminded me this finals season that while done is good, it is also perfectly fine for it to be good (enough). She helped me realize how hard I have worked this semester and how I put everything I had into my final papers. I had done everything I could, and that is good enough. No amount of worry, anxiety, or stress will change this semester. We must remember to acknowledge our strengths, accomplishments, and successes no matter how big or small they appear to us as. We must remember we are human, and that we must take care of all of our needs, not just our academic ones, to be happy and healthy both inside and out.

Community Beyond Measure


My first view of the city

Last week, I flew to Houston for a whirlwind 30 hour visit. After going through the application process for my dream post-graduation position, I was elated when KIPP Houston invited me to town for their final interview and selection day. My excitement quickly turned into mild panic as I began planning my stay and realized it would be difficult to navigate and get around the fourth largest city in the country without a car, and without familiarity with the area.

Confused by myriad areas of town and foreign interstate loops, I reached out to a Bryn Mawr alumna from Houston. When she found out I was coming to town, she offered to help me find accommodation, gave me advice on how to get around, and invited me to spend the evening with her and other Bryn Mawr alumnae the night before my interview. One of her friends, another alumna, picked me up from the airport, provided me a delicious welcome to Houston with authentic Tex- Mex for dinner, and drove us to the gathering. That evening, I witnessed and was a part of something incredible. For the last three and a half years I have heard that Bryn Mawr’s community extends beyond campus through its immense and active alumnae/i network, and on Thursday night, I experienced the power of our community first hand.

The four amazing women who welcomed me to Houston did so with open arms and open hearts. They were genuinely interested in my experiences and wanted to know all about my time on campus as well as the position I was interviewing for. They gave me advice and encouraged me in ways only mawrters could, reminding me to be confident in myself and my abilities. At the end of the night, they anassed me and my first “adult” interview in front of bewildered onlookers. Their willingness to help, interest, and support showed me how the community we build within the castle- like walls of Bryn Mawr extend well beyond them into the world outside.

Untitled m copyAfter an anxious weekend waiting, I am ecstatic to share that I have been offered a position with KIPP Houston as an elementary school partner teacher and graduate fellow. When I shared the news with my new friends and fellow mawrters, they enthusiastically let me know they were eager to help me make Houston my new home after graduation. I may not know many people in Houston, but I know the Bryn Mawr community and the four incredible women I met that night will be there for me, and that is absolutely priceless.