Back at Penn!

Tonight was my first time back in the city since returning from winter break. I was able to attend UPenn’s talk hosted by the Annenberg School of Communication. The talk included a panel of black journalists and asked them pressing questions about the current politics of the country. The room was huge, the size of a theatre, and completely packed.

It was really great being in that room and feeling that energy. Even though I’m not particularly interested in journalism, the conversation included important points about the health care system and health inequalities that got me thinking about possible thesis ideas for the future!

I then spent some time in the city and found this amazing food spot!

Honey Grow stir-fry

I always forget how much I love spending time in Philly until I go back in and get completely re-energized.

NAACP trip to NYC

The NAACP group at Bryn Mawr took six students to spend three days in New York participating in a leadership diversity conference. The conference took place from Nov. 18th to the 19th and was full of students and faculty from colleges all over the country. There were people there from Florida, Texas, Illinois, California and so many other states. Bryn Mawr students were there to represent Pennsylvania 🙂

The weekend was packed with interactive workshops and meaningful discussions. Being a posse student, it was really interesting to participate in similar activities, but with a different atmosphere and group. Bryn Mawr posse students and our guests (who we call posse plussers) spend a weekend in the spring of every year diving deep into a conversation about diversity, very similar to this conference. But the experience in this conference was very different than my first posse plus retreat last spring.

On the second day of the conference, I participated in the identity politics workshop, where we did the same activity Posse had us do last year. The activity involved different areas of the room having posters with an identity (ex: race, gender, sexuality, religion, (dis)ability). The facilitators would then read out statements and participants would move to the area/identity that we most strongly connected to that statement. It was interesting for me to do this because I realized my answers changed from last spring. This made me think about how much I’ve changed in half a year and how much Bryn Mawr has impacted me to see things differently.

I really enjoyed this conference, as it made me questions and deepen many of my beliefs/values. Opportunities like this are why I appreciate having come to Bryn Mawr.

Election Day at the Mawr

Yesterday morning, Bryn Mawr students were excited to vote on what was, for many of us, our first time voting. There was a shuttle that took us from campus to the nearest voting poll. The polls were full of long lines of college students. I casted my vote, ate warm chocolate chip cookies with hot chocolate and awaited the results.

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Fast forward a couple hours and both TGH and the campus center are full of concerned students watching the election. As time went on and it became evident that Trump was doing remarkably well, you felt the energy drop. Bryn Mawr is a very liberal college and many of us were rooting for Clinton. Trump represents so much of what we are trying to fight against.

This is a very different experience from my sister’s time at Bryn Mawr when Obama was being elected. She spoke of TGH being filled with cheers everytime he won a state. I speak of the campus center being filled with tears and hugs everytime Trump won a state. But the hugs, the warmth, the solidarity in that room made this night less threatening.

Today my professor sent a heartfelt email about self care and assuring us that if we had to take the day off because this election was too personal, we could. I appreciate that Bryn Mawr is an institution that is helping me cope with these results rather than amplifying my pain.

Later today there will be vigils, protests and activism to express our sentiment at this difficult time. Bryn Mawr students don’t sit with their arms crossed in the face of hate. We fight back.

 

Adelante Panel

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak on a panel that “Adelante” was running for the Latinx parents of their students. Adelante is a college-bound program that Bryn Mawr students work at to engage middle school students in college prep workshops. I was asked to be one of the panelists and talk about my experience as an immigrant in higher education. Professor Montes, a sociology professor at Bryn Mawr that focuses on immigrant studies, was also with me on the panel sharing her experience as an immigrant in higher education.

I loved being a part of this panel and meeting these parents because it reminded me so much of my own. These parents want the best for their children and are working day in and day out to make sure they have the best opportunities. Talking about my own experience reminded me of how blessed I am to have gotten the Posse Scholarship for Bryn Mawr. I’ve had amazing opportunities, but I know how difficult things are and how different circumstances can limit you. Speaking to these parents, listening to their concerns, answering their questions, and letting them know that affordable higher education for their children is possible was so valuable to me.

I attended Girls Inc. when I was in middle school and high school and if it wasn’t for that organization I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. So I am so glad that Bryn Mawr partners with Adelante and is doing similar work. This is just a testament to how Bryn Mawr students constantly seek to make a difference.

Ethical Science Symposium (Day 2)

Today was the last day of the Ethical Science Symposium at Haverford. My favorite panel from today was on the ethics of preventive medicine, specifically on vaccines. Guest panelists Dr. Kristen Feemster and Dr. Jason Schwatrz talked about herd immunity and discussed how we can debate the ethics of individual decision vs. duty to public good.

These conversations are really important to have today in the wake of many parents being hesitant to vaccinate their children due to fear of side effects and perceived links to autism.

I loved having the opportunity to listen to a variety of perspectives on how best to deal with this issue in order to address people’s concerns while still working towards the health of the public. All of the topics that were discussed at this symposium fit well into the classes I take and helped give me insight into questions I should be asking.

This weekend was my first time attending a health-related symposium and my first time attending any symposium while in college. I love that these are the kinds of conversations that we can have within the science departments in the bi-co. We don’t just discuss hardcore STEM issues, but the social implications of these issues as well.

This weekend, along with several weeks of trying to hone in on what I want to study, has made me grateful to have the opportunity to ask these vital questions. My Dominican family tends to stick to traditional fields of study and don’t really consider fields where intersectionality is possible, such as bioethics, public health, medical anthropology, and others. So participating in a symposium that asks vital interdisciplinary questions made me realize how much I value that.

This weekend helped me become confident in what I’m studying and have a clearer sense of what issues really matter to me. Now, if I could just declare a major and minor.

Ethical Science Symposium (Day 1)

This weekend Haverford College is hosting a symposium that discusses questions of ethics in science and research. Today I was able to attend a panel of three HIV activists as they discussed the ideas that are central to their work.

The main topic of discussion in this panel was community-based participatory research (CBPR) in relation to HIV and AIDS. This discussion was my first introduction to the idea of CBPR and opened my eyes to so much. CBPR aims to do research work with the very people they are trying to help, rather than on these people. It centralizes research justice in order to involve communities in the work that is being done.

Panel on HIV/AIDS research

Panel on HIV/AIDS research

The three panelists were all women who are living with HIV. The words they shared with us today moved me and challenged me to think critically about research and what constitutes research justice.

In order to not be carried away by my passion for these conversations, I’ll just quote one important thing from each panelist that I consider valuable.

Laurel Sprague (on why it’s important to have people living with HIV involved in the research being done):  “If you are not inclusive, you are exclusive.”

Cecelia Chung (on what it felt like to be a trans woman of color living with HIV trying to do activism): “I felt like I was banging on the door of a very privileged system.”

Waheeda Shabazz (on why de-personalizing people is problematic): “It is important to be identified as a person not an HIV-infected person… I am a person thriving with HIV. I have done nothing since [my diagnosis] but thrive.”

This panel gave me a lot of insight on research and how to make research do the best work it could do. It reminded me just how important it is to give the people who have the most at stake a seat at the table.

I really enjoyed the panel and the student poster presentations today and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s sessions have to offer.

Bryn Mawr and Beyond

Today Bryn Mawr hosted an event in TGH to kick off parent’s weekend. Bryn Mawr and Beyond was demonstrating the variety of summer internships Bryn Mawr students take part in.

At first I was terrified to come to this event and present on my summer experience. I have never been too fond of public speaking and having all eyes on me. But the event ended up being more of a social, consisting of conversation between students and visitors about the work we’re passionate about and where we want to go moving forward.

TGH

Not only was I able to talk about my experience working at Boston Children’s Hospital, but I also got to listen to the work other students did over the summer. I saw a variety of programs that related to my interests and that I’ll probably apply for next summer. It was a great opportunity to learn about what else is out there for me.

On top of that we got free donuts and a free T-shirt, and every college student knows free stuff is the best stuff.

Free Bryn Mawr merch!

Free Bryn Mawr merch!

D.C. Trip

Two of my friends participated in a LILAC career event that took place in D.C. this break. Another friend and I decided to take advantage of that and tag along the trip to sightsee for two days.

The first night we got there, we attended a spoken word show at Busboy’s and Poets. This place is half restaurant, half spoken word hall, half art gallery.

a look at the gorgeous art that was in this place

D.C. is full of love for spoken word poetry so this event was more than worth it. On top of that, Busboy’s and Poets had guest star Clint Smith performing his new poetry so it was a big event. It had been a while since I attended a poetry show and this reminded me how much I loved it. Philadelphia is also big on spoken word so I will definitely be making my way into the city more often to attend shows.

The next day, we spent all day hopping from museum to museum. We started with the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of the American Indian, and then the zoo.

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I love going to new places and really appreciated having time over break to visit D.C. Today, however,  is the last day of fall break and I will be catching up on all the readings I didn’t do while I was traveling.

Cheers to the last half of fall semester!

Fall break is calling

I am now halfway through my first semester as a sophomore, which is both terrifying and exciting.
Spending midterm week obsessing over my essays was an adjustment from last year’s non-stop studying for exams. I opted to take more interdisciplinary and less STEM-driven classes this semester and it has been a very different experience for me. Nonetheless, midterm weeks never fail to put me in my own world, so I’m sorry it took so long to get a story out of me!
Now it’s officially fall break and I will be on campus all week, so expect to hear a lot from me to make up for the lost time.
For today, I will just be curled up in my bed watching Netflix and telling myself I’ll be productive tomorrow. But can you blame me with such a cozy home?

my favorite place to be