An eventful weekend

As a student coordinator for Bryn Mawr’s Body Image Council alongside Emily George’ 21 and Iris Liu ‘ 19, it is my responsibility to strive towards making Bryn Mawr a more accepting campus towards all body types. On Thursday, 8/11, BIC collaborated with EnAble (the accessibility club on campus) to conduct a joint movie viewing of Margarita with a Straw – a heartwarming story of a girl suffering from cerebral palsy who makes her way to pursue higher studies in the United States. The movie tackles themes surrounding sexual orientation, disability, self-discovery and relationships between a mother and her daughter, lovers and friends. There was a brief discussion followed by the movie screening. We spoke of the different resources that are available to students on campus and also highlighted the various ways in which Bryn Mawr can strive to be a more accessible campus to its students. I started working towards a more positive Bryn Mawr experience for myself and for my peers when I became a peer leader for the Bryn Mawr Body Project. Now, as student coordinators of BIC, Emily, Iris and I work alongside the Health Centre and Student Athletics in hopes of making this college a more accepting and acknowledging place of various bodies. I personally liked Margarita with a Straw. Laila’s strength and resilience, in embracing life and its various intricacies left a mark on me and perhaps gave voice to my reason for being so actively involved with BIC. 

Last Friday also marked the joint Eid/Diwali celebration hosted by the MSA, SAS and the DSA. Students all over campus gathered together to join us in celebration of our respective religious and cultural observances. It was a great night – a wide variety of Indian food catered from Tiffin Indian Cuisine was served, a lot of the South Asian students on campus dressed in their cultural clothes (either the salwar kameez or the sari), and we danced our hearts out to the blaring Bollywood music. 

I have previously mentioned that I am taking a Social Epidemiology class at Haverford College. As part of our total grade, we were instructed to take the route 23 bus between 11th and Market Street from Center City to Chestnut Hill in order to observe the built environment around us. It was particularly interesting because as someone who is generally not particularly receptive to her surroundings, I started to view Philadelphia in a new light. We had to relate our observations to readings that drew a positive correlation between neighborhood conditions and health outcomes in communities. After soaking up ample material to talk about in our reports, by classmate and I walked around Chestnut Hill for a bit. It was a dainty town – with cobbled streets, fancy boutiques and an overall Bryn Mawr-esque vibe. We spent a good portion of our time on the way back talking about what we had seen around us and how we could relate them to the demographic characteristic that each place encompassed.

Today, I attended a volunteer reflection meeting for Holisticare Hospice. We talked about all the patients that we have been assigned and it felt great to sit back and reflect on our actions as volunteers for families that are experiencing the “end of life” experience.

As a very busy week ends and we are on our way to a new one, I am once again thankful for the place and the people that I continue to be surrounded by.


Sophomore year of an aspiring academic

I declared my major in biology earlier in the week after much debate. The human body and its various intricacies have never failed to amaze me ever since I was a three year old trying to convince her micro-biologist grandfather to let her look through his microscope. I came into college thinking that I would be a biochemistry major and molecular biology major but owing to the diverse list of courses that Bryn Mawr offers, and with my interest in health systems, I started to develop an interest towards public health. Although Bryn Mawr does not provide public health as a major, the Bi-Co Health Studies minor is a good alternative.

As I have mentioned earlier, in order to get approved for study abroad next semester, I have decided to focus more on some of major and college-wide requirements this semester. Hence, the decision to take on five classes seemed like an impossibly possible task. I have a wide array of courses this semester that range from STEM to the humanities and an intersection between the two.

Organic Chemistry I – the academic life of a pre-med in their sophomore year seems to revolve mainly around this course (a trend that I’ve seen amongst most upperclassmen and my fellow classmates). My instructor for this course in Dr. Maryllen Nerz-Stormes and is probably the entire class’s biggest source of motivation. We have an exam coming up on conformation analysis, acid-base reactions and resonance – and like for any other exam, my study group sessions are in full swing. This course also has a lab component that undergraduates can do with post-baccs. Orgo lab is fun – I’ve learned several new techniques this year and have made my fair share of mistakes while attempting to conduct my experiments. 

Topics in the British Empire – this 200-level reading and discussion based history class taught by Professor Madhavi Kale, focuses on the history of colonised India and the different perspectives/events that led to the birth of independent sovereign nations as a result. As a Bangladeshi, my knowledge regarding the matter is not as broad as it should be and it’s very interesting to see why things came to be the way they are now and how history aids us in being able to understand that. We’re reading accounts by James Mill and a book by Romila Thapar currently and are analyzing the various ways in which a historian chooses to contextualize a given time period in history. 

Introduction to Health Studies and Social Epidemiology (at Haverford) – Both of these classes are to be counted towards my minor in Health Studies. The intro class, taught by Dr. Susan White,  focuses on the mechanism, representation and social structures of various diseases – currently, we’re going over influenza. Visiting professor Anne Montgomery, teaches Social Epidemiology and it is probably one of the most interesting classes that I have ever taken. We try to analyze various social determinants of health and read extensively in order to gain a better understanding as to how they may contribute to the theoretical model of how the social world gets under our skin.

Introduction to Neuroscience – this 200-level biology course taught by Dr. Karen Greif is probably my favorite amongst all the courses that I am taking this semester. Although very challenging in terms of the depth of material that one has to remember, it is fascinating to see how the smallest of neurobiological processes tend to have such complex mechanisms. I personally like writing bi-weekly blog posts that discuss a neurological topic highlighted by an assigned Scientific American article. Not only does further research on the matter enable us to understand how neurological experiments are conducted, they also assist in making us realize how intricate the the higher-order functions of the nervous system truly can be.

It is very difficult to find a balance between my academics, work-study commitments and off-campus volunteering engagements. However, I have realised that the key to not be overwhelmed by the girth of assignments and responsibilities that I have to live up to (mainly this coming week) is to work happy. If something is worth doing, it really is worth doing well. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who will act as your support system, eating healthy, getting proper sleep, ( 5 AM yoga, in my case), going out into the city from time to time to appreciate what’s beyond Bryn Mawr might make the work load somewhat manageable.

It’s all about taking in the beauty around us
Nitisha Bhandari’22 and I taking time off to play with kittens!









I really do hope that the rest of the semester is a smooth ride for us all. We’re almost approaching Thanksgiving break!





An ode to self-care and self-growth

We’ve reached a point in the semester where the wheels are in full motion, midterms are in full swing, cups are filled with caffeine and the general adrenaline around campus is high. As someone who is currently enrolled in five courses this semester, it is natural to become overwhelmed with how fast paced my days are. To top it all off, I was sick throughout fall break and my productivity hit an all-time low. I do not recall ever sleeping as much as I did during that week – an indication that I was not tending to my body’s needs (self-care is SO important). Thankfully, although I did have a lot of assignments due for the week following fall break, I managed to take some time off for myself in order to appreciate the things that continued to happen around me.

On Friday, after three hours of organic chemistry lecture plus problem solving and two hours of hospice volunteering, I needed a breather. Don’t get me wrong. I love organic chemistry and the patient that I’m currently spending time with; but it is essential that I take some time out of my busy schedule to reflect and plan ahead.  Hence, I took to my favorite place during times like these – Manayunk, PA. It is a small, trendy town located approximately fifteen minutes away from Center City. Mainly known for its famous eateries and bars, this town generally tends to attract a younger population. I love walking around the streets of Manayunk and that is how I came upon Safa – a cosy Persian tea place. I am always on the hunt for good tea and it was pleasant to see the wide selection of teas that this place offered. I went with the classic Persian tea and got some pastries to go along with it. The ambiance of the cafe makes for a great study spot and the change in work space was refreshing for both my friend and I.

Persian tea with an assortment of sweets
A gem in the heart of Manayunk








The past weekend also marked Halloweekend. I serve as a classroom aide in the Phebe Anna Thorne School and spent my Thursday carving pumpkins with kids and talking about costume ideas for Halloween. Some of my hallmates in Brecon decorated their doors with stickers and signs in celebration of Halloween. There were several social events on campus during Saturday night which felt nice given how stressful weekends tend to be for most people at this time of year.

Sunday marked my favorite Bryn Mawr tradition – Lantern Night. Each class has its own color – green, light blue, red, and dark blue. This lantern night welcomed the incoming dark-blue first year class to Bryn Mawr. The lantern is symbolic to knowledge and wisdom and it is said that the passing down of the lantern is representative of the passing down of knowledge from upperclassmen to first-years. I volunteered to be a ticket taker this time and witnessed the magic of Lantern Night unfold before me – dimmed cloisters, dark blue lanterns, first-years adorned in our “cult-like” black robes.

The dark blue lantern
Getting the lanterns ready for the Class of 2022






Upperclassmen and first-years take part in step sing afterwards

It truly is a humbling experience. I was ticket-taking with a current senior and after completion of the event, we went on to discuss what the event meant to us. Something they said to me will perhaps stick with me forever, “I realised how much I have changed, how much I have grown since my first lantern night.” There was so much truth to their words. Bryn Mawr does change you, at least it changed me. It pushes you to reach new heights, leads you towards self-discovery, makes you experience community via decades worth of traditions and I hope that by the time I am a senior, I too will have learned and loved to appreciate the things about me and around me.

Welcome, Class of 2022.

A picture from my Lantern Night last year. Pictured Tanjuma Haque’21 (left) and Hilana El-Mekkoussi’21 (right)