Alexa Palomo 19C

"Twenty-two is still very young in the grand scheme of things, but in comparison to 18… at 18, I thought I was a lot more invincible. I knew I had all the answers. I was like, ‘I know exactly what I want. I want to go into business. I want to be a marketing major and climb to the top at a marketing firm!’ And then I took my first marketing prereq class was like, ‘Maybe this isn't what I want to do. Maybe I'm not well equipped to do it.’ So then I started taking other classes and was like, ‘Well, why not? Why not just major in them?’ I had a conversation with my dad on the phone, and he was like, ‘You know, at the end of the day it doesn't matter. What you're going to learn in life might be very different from what you're going to do in life."


Erin Oquindo 18Ox 20C

"The Callaway walkway is a bit of an oasis for me, in that it is one of the only areas where I feel fully surrounded by the liberal arts. Pre-med, pre-bus, and pre-law academics dominate spaces on campus, but this area, Callaway and its little courtyard (if you could call it that) is a space for the humanities. It feels like home for me in an academic sense. I was very put-together in high school, and did a lot of big talk about my future before understanding the work that would have to go into making that happen. I'm still in the process of viewing myself and my work through a realistic lens, and learning what it is to push myself toward the future I have always told myself I would have. "


Fredrick Thompson 20C

"To dance is to find a sense of freedom that I haven't been able to find in any other art form. I've done piano. I've done violin. I've done choir. I've done art. But dance has been the number one place where I found the most in myself and the expression and creativity that I've really wanted to tap into and share with the world. You are yourself. It's not like acting where you're another character or something. You are your own body, and you have to accept that. That's the only way you can really, truly find your own artistry. Coming from Augusta I didn't think I was going major in dance at all. I was like everyone coming in, thinking hard sciences was the way to go. That you couldn't make a living any other way. But I found that not to be the case. [There are] many opportunities through the dance program within Atlanta, so many more than you think. I feel I've grown so much more than if I were in some huge program. The professors are really behind you. They really want you to get all the training you need to move on to the next step."


Connor Cochran 20C

"I want to be able to create for my entire life. I want to make advancements. I want to make people ask questions. I want to make people examine what they’re doing and be like, ‘What if we could do something different?’ As long as I can remember, I have been writing stories and music. I went to an arts-based preschool, where the whole concept was learning through telling stories and putting on little plays. I was a music person, literally, since before I was born. My mom would play music for me in the womb. The first thing I experienced was music, and I haven't stopped loving it since."


Aisha Mahmood, 18C 20PH

"The masjids around Atlanta are very diverse. I love going there and just connecting with the larger Atlanta community. This past year, I had to celebrate Eid here. Usually I go home, but because of school I couldn't. So I went to Masjid Al-Farooq in downtown, and it was packed. There were so many people. It was beautiful just to stand with all these people. Most of them I didn't know them, but we were there for that one period of prayer and reflection to celebrate this day in our faith. And, it was beautiful. Yeah."


Daniel Hamm 21C

"Emory Scholars Finalist Weekend, last year I want to say, there were two finalists for the scholarship I have, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship, which is for students coming from the Atlanta Public School System. (I'm a graduate of Maynard Jackson High School here in Atlanta). I saw a disconnect between the experience those students had that weekend and what Emory has to offer … [the] resources, organizations here for minority students. That prompted me into doing advocacy work on behalf of students who want to come here, especially from Atlanta Public Schools. I'm in a privileged position by having a full scholarship here. And, I use that privilege and the resources that come with it to pay it back."


Alisina Bazrafshan 21PhD

"Working in labs, or I guess any PhD project, is solo work. It's you and your project. You wake up every morning to push this one idea forward. The development of the project... it's just you. Sometime last year, I basically restarted this student-run organization, SEED. The premise is communicating science to high-school students. One of the things I realized is I really enjoyed talking and planning with people and having my work have people involved in it. PhD student life … I don't want to use the word isolated, but it is kind of.

I heard some comments, ‘You're going to the South’, and, as an Iranian that might be concerning,’ but Emory is very friendly, very open to internationals. Atlanta is very open. The more I've lived here, the more I appreciate how diversity is celebrated. You go on Buford Highway, and there is a sampling of the whole world there. I love that it's a mix of different groups of people. It's just the culture of the city. "


Janell Goodwin-Farley 19C

“My mom worked here. We used to come on campus and play as kids. So I grew up at Emory, and it's always been home for me. When I came here in 1989, I came in as a data-entry specialist. I was promoted a few years ago and became a certified event-planner. To be able to work here and get an education from Emory … it speaks volumes. I want to be a change agent for women. That's what directed me toward women's studies. There are so many women who are voiceless and unheard. I want to be that bridge for them. Before women's studies, I didn't have a lot of background, a lot of context about what that really means. I used to take things for face value, but now when someone tells me something, I'm so fast to research it. When I speak now, I speak from facts. I'm able to bring my education into my conversations. I have a 12-year-old granddaughter, and I always challenge her to not be closed-minded, to hear the whole story. The coursework I've taken makes me think different. It has made me a critical thinker.”


Alex Gazmararian 19C

"Debate was something I was really passionate about I love that basically no matter who you are or what your background is or your experience, people have to take what you say for what it's worth and really engage with it. Being forced to look at an issue from both sides ... it's magical in a way. It really makes you reflect on the beliefs that you hold as an individual."


Esther Garcia 19C

"My dad is a pastor of a Pentecostal church. Everything growing up was very black and white. Very binary. Very "this is right, and this is wrong and, that's it. "No room for interpretation or growth or anything. Coming to Emory, I have learned so much about myself and other people. I refuse to discriminate against people because of who they love, how they love, how they express themselves, and how they just behave. Now it's more like, "Do good, and be a good person, and fight for what's good!" There's this really cool quote that I heard in my Gender Trouble class my sophomore year, "Where there is power, there is resistance." Even though there are so many oppressive systems functioning at this institution and in this state and just this world, there is so much activism that happens here, so many communities that form in response. That is so beautiful. It has taught me how to build community, how to just make space where space wasn't there for us before."