After deciding to come to Maryland, one of my biggest fears was that I would be overwhelmed and lost on such a large campus. Having an ILS family to immediately be a part of provided me with invaluable guidance, especially during my first year when I was adjusting to campus life. I truly believe this program allowed me to have the best of both worlds at UMD in terms of limitless opportunities in addition to a close-knit support system.
ILS has been a community that has invested so much in my personal growth, development, and well-being. One of the best examples of this is through Terps Helping Turtles, an Alternative Breaks service-learning experience specifically for ILS students. During this week long trip, we volunteer at a sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center and have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in learning about environmental conservation. As a freshmen participant, I met some of my best friends and mentors, and have had the opportunity to lead the experience for the last three years. The most rewarding aspect of Terps Helping Turtles is being able to form incredibly meaningful and genuine relationships with individuals in different cohorts. Through this amazing program, ILS allowed me to develop leadership skills, interact with community organizations, and learn and grow with my participants. This has truly been one of the most empowering, defining, and transformative experiences of my entire college career.
Both directly and indirectly, ILS has blessed with so many wonderful opportunities, including conducting research at the National Institute of Health and the University of Pennsylvania, founding a club (Oxfam America) focused on social justice, joining a cultural sorority, teaching an introductory course to ILS freshmen, and becoming a peer mentor for the college of Computer, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences.
I am extremely grateful that ILS has provided me with an environment in which I can grow and explore my passions with the most amazing mentors supporting and encouraging me along the way.