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.

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!

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!

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.


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.

Leaving One Home and Finding Another

bmc 4 yrs ago copy 2Facebook has a neat (albeit kind of creepy) feature called “On This Day”. The app runs on the site and each day, memories of pictures, posts, or statuses show up on your feed reminding users of what they were up to on that day for as long as they have had an account. To my surprise, my reminder for today was a check-in at Philadelphia International Airport. I say “to my surprise” because I simply cannot believe it was four years ago that I visited Bryn Mawr for the first time. It’s already been four years since I left home for a college visit and found the place that would soon become my second one.


A photo of Senior Row I took on my first visit to Bryn Mawr, November 11, 2011

A couple weekends ago, the Admissions Office hosted its 2015 Travel Scholars. Since the Travel Scholar program is how I was able to visit BMC during my senior year of high school, I could not help but feel nostalgic. Bryn Mawr’s generosity afforded me the opportunity to visit, and I owe where I am today in large part to that experience. Spending time with this year’s scholars brought back my own memories of what it was like to see and experience Bryn Mawr for the first time. One of my favorite things about being a tour guide is seeing the same look of awe and wonder on the prospective students’ faces that I had when I toured for the first time.

When I left El Paso four years ago today to visit BMC, I was scared, nervous, excited, and every emotion in between. While I had traveled by myself before, I had never lived anywhere by myself, away from family, friends, and the familiarity and comfort of home. I remember pulling up to the Admissions Office in a Blue Bus and walking in with my backpack, suitcase, and sleeping bag not sure of what to expect. I had no idea the opportunities in store for me, or the happiness being a member of the community would would bring to me.

My hosts took me to get dinner, and every person we saw on the way to the dining hall went out of their way to welcome me, ask me how I was doing, and ask me if they could answer any questions. I wasn’t even a student and I felt like I was part of the community within twenty minutes of arriving on campus. After spending the night in a dorm common room, the following day I was able to sit in on two classes. I was impressed by how invested the students were in their discussions, and how the professors made it a priority to make sure every voice in the class was heard. I knew then that socially and academically, Bryn Mawr was where I wanted to be.


Convocation 2015

Four years ago today, I started a journey and chapter of my life that will be coming to a close in six short months when I graduate. During my time at Bryn Mawr I have been encouraged, supported, pushed, loved, cared for, and advocated for by friends, professors, mentors, and each and every person I have met along the way. I have been pushed outside of my comfort zone, I have worked harder than I ever could have imagined, and I have learned the true value of a Bryn Mawr education with each of the ups and downs that come with it. As the days get shorter and chillier and as we move closer to the craziness of the Holidays, I am reminded of how quickly this semester and year will go by. Before I know it, it will be May and my time at this special place will come to a close. I came to Bryn Mawr thinking I was leaving my home, but I ended up gaining a second home among its gothic arches, cloisters, and cherry blossoms. For this, and for the people and places that have helped shape me into the woman I am today, I am forever grateful.

Update (11/11/15): This is what Facebook reminded me of today. Interviewing on 11/11/11 at 11:11? I don’t think that was a coincidence 🙂

11:11 copy