UFLi Digital Archive

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Category: FLiSP Scholars

Frances Imarhia (’22)

Meet Frances Imarhia (she/hers), a sophomore from Granbury, Texas. Frances is a Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) candidate and plans to concentrate in Biomedical Engineering. She is also a junior representative for First-Generation/Underrepresented in Medicine (FURM). Read the full interview below:

How are you? How’s your year going so far?
I’m doing well surprisingly. My year has been really busy. I decided to take 5 classes this semester. So far, I’ve been managing it. You can say managing very loosely. I’ve been really busy but in a good way. I think I’m getting a lot accomplished and starting to really settle in here. 

Can you tell me a bit about your work with FURM?
I’m currently a junior representative for FURM. First of all, I’m a PLME, which coming here I was really excited about. I quickly grew to notice as a PLME you’re surrounded by a lot of people who have been exposed to medical and higher education for pretty much their entire life.

For people like me who are first-generation, there are obvious differences in our experiences in the field and our comfort talking to physicians. When I heard about FURM, I saw it as something that was really necessary. I was looking for more ways to get involved. That’s how I became a junior rep.

My freshman year, I struggled a lot with imposter syndrome. Getting to know these people in the UFLi community and the FURM community and realizing that these intelligent and talented people also felt the same way, it made me feel like maybe I’m not the problem. I felt really comforted by that fact so I’m hoping to help other people who feel the same way. 

Advice you’d give your freshman year self?
Learn to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness. Specifically in the STEM community for UFLi students, we typically come from schools that are underfunded or not well run. We don’t start off on the same playing field as our peers, so it makes intro classes very difficult. I struggled in multivariable calculus. Half the people in the class had taken it in high school. At my high school, the calculus class was basically just us watching Khan Academy trying to piece things together. It feels like you’re playing catch up, so it’s not wrong to ask for help. We’re the ones those resources are here for. We deserve to be here just as much as anyone else.

Abigail Teshome (’23)

We’re excited to finally reveal our first Community Narrative of the semester! Last week, we interviewed Abigail Teshome (she/her/hers), a first-year participating in the FLi Scholars Program. Abigail is a PLME (Program in Liberal Medical Education) student hoping to concentrate in Cognitive Neuroscience. She is from Denver, Colorado. Read the interview below:

How are you? How’s your semester going?
I’ve been doing pretty good. I feel like this semester is a lot less overwhelming than first semester. The transition period is kind of fading out. I feel more comfortable. I feel like classes are getting a lot harder, which is the main thing I have to transition to now. It’s more academic than social. I’m really excited for this semester. I feel good.

How was your transition to Brown?
I grew up in a town that was very diverse. My high school was basically even in terms of race, and I grew up thinking that’s what the world was like. When I came to Brown, I realized that’s not what the world is like. People talk differently here, act differently, the humor is different. I feel like it was hard to make a genuine connection to the people here but after I found people I’m comfortable with, the experience was much better. It was a learning experience. I learned more about myself and who I am. I was in a situation where I had to figure that out and find the people I wanted to associate with. 

Has FLiSP helped with the transition?
FLiSP has made such a nice community from the start. It starts really early in the year, so I felt like if I had a concern, academically or socially, it’s a nice place where I didn’t feel like I had to put up a front and act like I had it all figured out. Especially with the one on one with Renata. During the first meeting, I was uncomfortable. I didn’t know what I was doing academically. At the end of the semester, she went over my goals and how I felt and compared it to now. I saw how much I grew as a student and as a person. I feel like without that community, I wouldn’t be able to conceptualize that.

What does it mean to you to be UFLi?
I feel like there’s definitely comfort in having a shared experience with other UFLi students on campus because at least day to day, it’s kind of rare to meet people who identify as UFLi. One of my good friends in FLiSP, Harriet, is from Kenya. I feel like having the shared experience of coming from an African household and not having guidance helped me feel less isolated. And even though that was my circumstance, I’m still deserving of my spot here.

Who are you away from Brown?
I feel like away from my identity as a student, the biggest thing that has influenced my life is my culture. I’m Ethiopian and Eritrean. There’s a very big Ethiopian community in Colorado. My high school had over 100 Ethiopian students. That’s something I keep near and dear to me. Outside my identity as a student, that has influenced not only the way I perceived the world and the things I learned, but also the way that I’m open to seeing other points of views.

Agnes Tran (’22)

We’re excited to share we’ll be continuing U-FLi student highlights into the new academic year! For our first highlight of the semester, we interviewed Agnes Tran (she/her/hers), a sophomore from Covina, CA. Tran is considering Public Policy/Econ or International and Public Affairs as her concentration. She is also a member of IMPULSE Dance Company, Vietnamese Students Association, and a writer for Visions Magazine. She’s also looking to interview UFLi students as her project for the Storytellers for Good Fellowship. Read more below:

How are you? How’s your semester so far?
I’m good. I think it’s been pretty good. Mainly getting into the groove of doing school work after a summer of not reading. This summer, I interned at a multimedia journalism company in Vietnam. About 90% of my time was spent translating articles into English. I can’t read Vietnamese so I spent a lot of time on Google Translate.

Can you tell me a bit about what you’re involved with here at Brown?
On campus, I’m part of IMPULSE Dance Company so I dance a lot with them. I’m also on the academic proposal team for the Southeast Asian Studies Initiative and part of the Vietnamese Students Association. Sometimes I write for Visions Magazine. 

This year, I’m on the board for IMPULSE. I’m the Community Chair. Technically I’m in charge of workshops so I thought I should try to lead some of them. Last Saturday was my first time doing it. It was very scary but probably one of the most memorable things I’ve done at Brown so far.

Why did you audition for IMPULSE?
I saw IMPULSE before ADOCH and I really remember thinking this is the kind of school I want to go to. In auditions, I came in with the mindset that it was a workshop so I wouldn’t be too stressed about it.

I heard you’re also working on a storytelling project. Can you tell me more about it?
Students are able to apply through the Swearer Center with project ideas so mine was talking about first-gen low-income narratives at Brown or other elite institutions. It’s a year long project. You can write, make a podcast, use photography, or video.

I really like writing and I wanted to use storytelling as a venue for social change and policy. I feel like a lot of students at Brown aren’t familiar with FLi narratives so maybe this would help bridge the gap between those two groups.

I’m looking for anyone who’s interested in sharing stories. If anyone has any experiences they’d be comfortable sharing, I’d love to talk them.

What does it mean to you to be UFLi?
I think it means being resilient and resourceful. Being a part of two worlds and knowing how to navigate that. I think a lot of it is remembering who helped you get here, why you’re still here, and the people in your life that have shaped you for the better – and for me it’s family.

Lastly, advice you’d give your freshman year self?
You’re not going to be a neuroscientist – or anything related to STEM. You need to breathe because you still have 3 years to figure things out.

Roberto Castro (’22)

Last but not least, we interview Roberto Castro. He’s from LA and plans to concentrate in Chemical Engineering. Check out his interview below:

Favorite class you’re taking this semester? Why?
I do like math, so that’s probably my favorite class. I know people are gonna be like how? But it’s one of the easier classes I’m taking, and I like the people in the class.

What are you currently looking forward to?
Recently, being here at Brown, it opened my mind. Realizing the potential that someone has within a community, not just as an individual, gave me a sense of what I can do outside of academics. 

One thing I want to get engaged with that I couldn’t get engaged with back home is going out to schools and tutoring students. It’s harder at home, because you need the mission, but here it’s already set. 

Favorite place on campus?
This greenhouse is really nice. It reminds me of home.

Adrianna Maxwell (’22)

Our penultimate interview this week: Adrianna Maxwell, a student from Chicago. She intends to study International Relations and Health and Human Bio. Read more below:

Favorite class you’re taking this semester? Why?
Surprisingly, it’s been Intro to Poetry. It’s my favorite class because I like how free the class is. All of my other classes are very constructed. Poetry is something I’ve always wanted to do but never explored and this class gave me the opportunity to explore those interests that I never had the time to delve into.

Why did you decide to apply to FLiSP?
I decided to apply because I knew that when I came to Brown I’d need a community I could relate to and talk about our experiences and have someone who would just know my situation. 

The workshops have been helped me navigate Brown’s resources. The conversation with CAPS was also helpful. I think there’s a stigma around mental health and the workshops have been helpful in teaching us how to reach out. Julio and Renata are really good people. They really do extend themselves for us.

Favorite place on campus?
The RISD library. I go to Shiru the most but if the RISD library was closer, I’d definitely go there more often.

Jason Mero (’22)

For our second highlight, we met with Jason Mero, a first year from Brooklyn, NY concentrating in Public Health. Read his interview below:

Favorite class you’re taking this semester? Why?
A First Year Seminar, it’s a bio research class —it’s fun because the professor is very lax about it and even though you’re in lab a lot, everyone in lab is fun and everyone has a good time while there. I also like Arabic. Learning a language is so fun and the sounds you make are so different. We laugh together about our mistakes and the professor is really cool.

What have you found to be most challenging so far about Brown?
Even though you take less classes, it’s a lot more intensive work. In high school, weighting is everything. Homework is worth so much in high school. In college there’s an incentive to study more and do more work, but in the end I’m learning a lot from my classes.

What are you currently looking forward to?
Seeing what Brown is like over time, seeing what sophomores and juniors are participating in, and I’m excited to go home for Thanksgiving, especially for the food.

Leticia Wood (’22)

Meet Leticia Wood, a first year from Bergenfield, NJ intending to concentrate in Cognitive Neuroscience and Africana Studies. Read her interview below:

Favorite class you’re taking this semester? Why?
Intro to Africana — since it’s an intro course we have to study a lot of different things like history, philosophy. We also have a lot of really cool guest lecturers. It’s a very open dialogue and I feel very comfortable in the space, especially because the professor is a black woman.

What are you currently looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to taking more Africana classes and seeing what directions it can take me in. I’m taking two classes in Africana next semester and they’re both very different but it’s under the same discipline. One class is Gender, Slavery, and Freedom, which I’m seeing more as historical and theoretical, and the other one is Hip Hop Culture.

Favorite place on campus?
Is it weird if I say Andrews Commons? I really appreciate the food there.

Adela Herce (’22)

For this week’s second FLi Highlight, we interviewed Adela Herce, another FLiSP participant. Check out her interview below!

Hometown and intended concentration?
Hayward, CA and biochemistry.

Why did you apply to FLiSP?
I felt like it would give me a community and people I could relate to. It would help me make friends and it seemed like a really good resource. But a lot of us knew each other before. We all met each other on Twitter and ended up in U-FLiSP together.

What do you like best about Brown so far?
Aside from my friends, I like the fact that it is a very academic environment but not to the point where it’s not a collaborative environment. Brown isn’t a place where people are mean to each other just for asking for help.

What are you currently looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to building closer relationships with my friends and to see the growth from when I started at Brown until the end of first semester, end of second semester. Also going back home.

Antonio Almazan (’22)

In this week’s first (of two!) FLi Highlights, we interviewed Tony Almazan, a FLiSP participant hoping to concentrate in neuroscience. Read our interview with him below.

Hometown and intended concentration?
Los Angeles, CA and neuroscience.

What do you like best about Brown so far?
I really like the campus. I really like the buildings, walking around campus, and looking at some of the buildings. It’s cool to feel like, wow I’m at Brown, or I’m taking a class in Solomon – who else might have taken that class? The atmosphere of being at Brown is my favorite part.

What have you found to be most challenging so far about Brown?
Navigating the open curriculum is pretty hard. I don’t want to take too many classes within my concentration and I want to take some fun classes, so it’s about finding the balance of being able to take whatever you want and stay on top of it.

Favorite class you’re taking this semester? Why?
Neuro 10 – it’s also the hardest but I think that’s what makes it my favorite, because it’s my concentration so it’s really interesting to me to learn about the brain and how our behavior and everything we do is controlled by chemicals and electrical impulses. That’s crazy to me. I haven’t been challenged by a class like this in a long time.

Josue Adan Zepeda Sanic (’22)

Meet Josue: a first-year student hoping to concentrate in Political Science, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Visual Art. Read our interview with him below.

Favorite class you’re taking this semester?
VISA100 – it gives me a break, it’s a way of therapy, a way to still do work but work that you enjoy doing.

What kind of art are you interested in?
Primarily sculpture and ceramics. Sculpture is such a broad term, but I want to learn how to weld. I like making clay heads and clay plates and clay cups. I want to learn how to glassblow too.

What do you like best about Brown so far?
I’m not sure yet – it’s a big transition for me right now. It’s a lot of work but I like how uncomfortable it’s making me, because I see that as room for growth. It’s a good uncomfortable because I know it will help me in the long run.

Why did you apply to the FLi Scholars Program?
I knew I was going to need a support group to help me out and start my family, to handle Brown and it’s elitism. It’s a way for me to make friends also and get more comfortable with my surroundings. 

If you were a building on campus, what building would you be?
I’d be Granoff because I’m interested in modernistic architecture. There’s something so pretty and out of this world and elegant, but it also has so much personality.

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