Sonya Williams: Bioengineering, Class of 2018

After spending the first 18 years of my life living with my family in Southern California, I had no idea what to expect when I matriculated at the University of Maryland. But it wasn't until I was on the cross-country flight that I realized how nervous I was. Both my elementary school and high school were incredibly small, and I worried that I'd get lost in the sea of students, activities and classes. I really shouldn't have worried. When I got to UMD, I was immediately taken in by the ILS family. Smaller classes with the familiar faces of my hall mates and a program where the faculty almost immediately knew my name helped me realized that I'd come to the right place.

Beyond just offering me a home away from home when I first came to college, ILS has given me so much as a student. My mentor through the program helped me find a research lab within the Bioengineering Department - one that I'm still working in 2 years later and in which I'm pursuing Bioengineering Departmental Honors. I had the opportunity to serve as a Section Leader for an ILS-specific introductory course for Freshman as well as a Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the ILS Genetics course as a Sophomore. I wouldn't have had those open doors of opportunity without the ILS program.

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Furthermore, ILS gave me a community. From day one, friends to eat dinner and study with, to rush Greek life with and be by my side when the going got tough. Faculty who want me to succeed and have given me the tools to do so. Without that community, I wouldn't have had the same college experience. I'm grateful for the community and the opportunities that I've been given as a part of the ILS program and I can't imagine what my experience here would have been without it.