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.

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.