Day in the Life

Alina Peon
Boca Raton, FL
International Studies – Economic Development Concentration

A Regular Wednesday

9:30 am – Work meeting, I work for the Pensby Center at Bryn Mawr as a Student Social Media Coordinator. I have weekly check ins with Kathryn, my supervisor, where we plan future podcast guests, Instagram content for the upcoming weeks and marketing strategy. 

10:30 am – Breakfast and yoga time, this is a new habit I picked out during quarantine and for the first time ever I can now touch my toes 🙂

12 pm – Team lift, I play Field Hockey and we lift twice a week. Today it was outside, at the turf field and we did a Tabata workout! 

3pm – Work meeting, for Bryn Mawr Communications job! We check in weekly and brainstorm content for the Instagram and website

4pm to 5:30 pm – Homework and a quick power nap!

6pm to 7:30 pm – Field Hockey Practice – being a student athlete means that I have to plan my day around practice times, but getting to see my teammates daily and play a sport I love is so much fun. During the off season, we practice 4/5 times a week, and during season we practice everyday and play one or two games a week! 

8 pm – SAAC Meeting, I am the SAAC Diversity and Inclusion Co-Head for this year and it has been a lot of work but super rewarding!

9pm – Finishing up some readings and homework, and reading the last few pages of a new book

10:30 pm – BEDTIME! 

What Bryn Mawr made me do…

For some of us, deciding our major comes naturally and we find our calling even before freshman year of college. For others, it takes time and trying out a couple classes during our freshman and sophomore year in order to realize what we want to do. For myself, it took more than the average in order to declare only one area of interest – if it were up to me, I would have majored in “nothing”. It is not that I don’t like school, it’s actually quite the opposite – I chose Bryn Mawr because there was a lot that I liked and becoming a Mawrter gave me the chance to roam the hallways of all departments before declaring my major and even after, exploring my own areas of interest in a creative way while completing my major requirements. 

My freshman year, I found economics so interesting (I know that is hard to believe) that I went ahead and took every single economics class I could. I fell in love with the theories and applications of one particular area: economic development; but when I took on a summer finance internship at a financial intelligence firm, I quickly realized that it was not for me. Don’t knock it till you try it, I guess? 

I felt lonely and frustrated because I couldn’t find a way to connect economic development into a career path, most of the economic majors I was talking to wanted to go into the finance world and I just knew that was not what was right for me. I wanted to maintain my economics focus but do something completely unrelated to the cubicle job I had that previous summer. 

I decided to switch my major to International Studies on a whim, I grabbed the phone and called my dad: “I am switching to International Studies, don’t worry I think I am onto something”. My dad, of course, panicked – he saw an economics major as a more “traditional” path for me and was worried of how the mix of philosophy, politics and economics (the three pillars of an International Studies major) was going to play into my career path. I began taking classes in all three areas and took on an economic development concentration, focusing on classes such as the politics of economic development, global ethical issues, indigenous and settler politics, human rights and crisis and policy economy. 

That next summer, my mindset was completely changed and I decided to take a big leap of faith and choose my own experience: I started my own business. Taking what I knew from each class I had and the backbone of my economics major, plus the work experience from my on campus and internship jobs, I took on the chance to build a company that focuses on selling sustainable, women-made and artisan art from around the world. It is a growing endeavor and one that has taught me more about the own choices I made in life, for example, how crucial it was to choose a women’s liberal arts college which allowed me to expand my areas of knowledge beyond a traditional major and also pushed my power as a woman to create small, but crucial impacts in the business world. 

After my first two years at Bryn Mawr, I am in a completely different place than where I started although I now believe, technically, I am majoring in “everything” – because all of my experience has had a crucial impact on the student and entrepreneur that I am today and will be in the future. 

  • Uncommon Grounds – one of our coffee shops on campus, where I called my dad to tell him I was changing my major but also, where I usually spend my weekday evenings!

  • The first draft of my business logo, I knew nothing about design or building a website yet and I am still learning…

Working for Social Justice at Bryn Mawr

Almost everyone who first visits Bryn Mawr College will tell you they love how much it feels like home, or how strong the Bryn Mawr community is. I can tell you the same, since that is the main reason why I chose to apply to Bryn Mawr College back during my senior year of high school!

At Bryn Mawr, there are many resources, groups and projects fighting for social justice. One of them is the Pensby Center for Community Development and Inclusion.

“Pensby” as students call it, has an amazing staff working on interfaith services, diversity/equity/inclusion, international and undocumented students, first-generation students and supporting student groups. As described in their website, the Pensby center “implements programs and activities that address issues of diversity, power and privilege, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, country of origin, class, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and disability, with a goal of improving the campus climate and enhancing community life at Bryn Mawr College”.

This summer, as part of my role in SAAC – Bryn Mawr’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee – as Co-Head of Diversity and Inclusion, with my friend Jackie Fernandez ’21 (Crew Team), we worked alongside Pensby to create a workshop series for athletes, coaches and staff.

This workshop series launched in August, after months in the making, and presented our first topic: white supremacy in sports. It was a powerful, personal and educational conversation alongside fellow athletes and our coaches, with the caring help and expertise of Ann-Therese, Vanessa and Kathryn from the Pensby Center staff.

Future sessions will explore privilege, recruiting, and how to build a better athletics community. SAAC’s Diversity and Inclusion upcoming projects – an inclusive athletic recruit tour alongside Black at Bryn Mawr, *Mujeres, ASA, etc; an athletic bias report system; a lacrosse clinic for Philly schools and much more – combined with the Pensby Center’s expertise, aim at promoting a more equitable athletics community at BMC. With the help, feedback and power of the Bryn Mawr community we are setting an example for fellow athletes and schools.

Right at the end of our workshop, not only was I amazed by the extremely high turnout, but also felt nostalgic… I remembered why I first chose Bryn Mawr, my first time visiting campus and talking with Professors or seating in some interesting classes. That feeling of belonging, of home, of community came back to surprise me once again and to assure me that I am were I was meant to be.

A photo of the Pensby Center, located above Applebee Field and next to Cambrian Row.

A view of the Pensby Center, located above Applebee Field and next to Cambrian Row.

5 Steps to Manage Mental Health When Returning To Campus

There is no doubt that 2020 has been a different and stressful year, with the time we spent quarantining to protect everyone’s health, student’s are ready to go back to campus. As a rising junior, returning to Bryn Mawr’s beautiful campus is exciting and a dream come true after a hard summer. We are all aware of the dedication Bryn Mawr staff has taken on to achieve a safe and healthy return to campus and of the measures we need to follow in order to maintain everyone’s safety.

Part of those measures, the 14 day quarantine before the start of classes and the social-distance measures to follow during the school year, can make students feel lonely and bored – trust me, I already picture myself talking to the wall.

During these times, where we are thinking about our health in a physical way we need to remember the importance of mental health, specifically for students as they return back to campus for a non-traditional semester. Here are simple and effective steps one can take to manage mental health during COVID-19 and the return to academics:

  • Take a break from the news: make sure the information you are listening to or viewing is from reputable and non-sensational sources. After long periods of quarantine I have found myself spending so much time looking at the TV, with news not changing much but creating a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. Listening to and viewing pictures of the crisis can be emotionally upsetting, and the time spent looking at the TV or reading the news instead be spent talking through FaceTime, getting ahead on the interesting readings our Professors are starting to post or catching up on some Netflix! Here is a book recommendation if you find yourself craving a good read: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
  • Let’s take care of our body: for me this screams: catch up on sleep and stretch! Adjusting to the non-traditional semester will take some time, so focusing on healthy habits during this period of quarantine can help us be more effective as soon as we hit the books! Do what feels right, what gets your mind off the boredom and whatever your body is craving!
  • Learn a new skill: before quarantine, my artistic talent was non-existent but now, I can skilfully paint by numbers! I painted a bunny with a bunch of colors that I now have framed and hang in my dorm room. If anyone is interested in becoming the new Bob Ross you could tune in to your artistic self or search for something that rocks your boat, like YouTube dance classes or bracelet making. Extreme TikTok dancing can be a time consuming but fun task!
  • Give to others: from a sweet text to a donation or maybe just calling your friend on FaceTime, connecting and spending time with someone else or taking part in a wholesome and generous act for a good cause can be a productive and heartwarming way to spend your time.
  • Reach out to Counseling Services: Bryn Mawr’s great Counseling Services is offering drop-in student support groups for all students via the Zoom Healthcare platform, facilitated by BMC Counseling Services.

A beautiful rainbow outside my friend Maeve’s window reminding us that better times are coming! 🙂