What brought you to St. Mike’s? How did you decide to come here?
My sister goes here, she’s a senior now. I came to visit her during her freshman year, and I got to follow her to her classes. At the time she was taking the Examined life, so I got to experience a discussion based class where you can sit wherever you want, and the professor was really there to help students understand the class material. I went to a statistics class with her as well, and stats is not easy, but the professor was really good at trying to make it easier for students to understand. I liked that students worked together to understand the material, and that walking around campus I saw people smiling and saying hi to each other. I really liked the professors that I saw and the energy on campus that I experienced, so that drew me in to apply.
What’s one incredible memory or experience that you’ve had here so far?
Last year, I was the secretary of the Diversity Coalition, and I had to plan different events. I got to plan an event where we brought Arun Gandhi, Mohandas Gandhi’s grandson, to campus to speak, and that was amazing. I got to speak at the event to introduce him, and I never thought I would be in a position to be introducing someone like that. A lot of people helped me with writing my speech, and it was great to experience everyone’s support. At college, we definitely have a lot more opportunities than we think.
Do you have a favorite professor, or a person who has been influential to your college experience?
I would my say that all my professors so far have been amazing. It’s hard to pick a favorite, all the economics professors are great. Allison Kuklok has definitely has been influential to me. I came into college not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life. My major was exploratory, and Alison Kuklok was my advisor. She helped me figure out that economics was the right path for me. She was more than just an advisor to me, I could also go to her to talk about my problems. Although she’s not my advisor anymore, I still like to go talk to her. I also took two of her classes, and besides an amazing human being, she’s also an amazing professor. I would definitely recommend taking her classes.
Why did you choose to major in Economics?
I chose economics because I like math, but I also wanted to work with people. I want to help improve the lives of poor people, and I think majoring in economics will put me on the right path toward being able to do that.
What was the transition into college like for you? How did you overcome any challenges you faced?
College is definitely harder than high school. Knowing my priorities is important for me in overcoming the challenges college brings. Being involved on campus is great, but you have to balance that time with the time you spend working for your grades. For me, though I am involved on campus, I know my grades have to come first.
How is Vermont different from home for you? Do you like it here?
I came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and it was hard coming here because of the language. In my country French is the first language, so I had to learn English while going to high school, and that was difficult. We don’t know the cold or snow in the DRC, and here it’s really cold and snows like crazy, which was a challenge for me at first. I also came from a big city back in the Congo, but Vermont’s not big at all. I do really like Vermont, I like how it’s small, and I think Church Street in Burlington is a really nice place to go and hang out with your friends.
Do you have any advice for prospective students about how to make the most out of their college experience?
First rule, do not skip orientation. So many people skip events during orientation, but you should definitely go to all of them. I met so of my friends through those events. Don’t be shy! Know that you can go ask your professor for help, as they are always willing to help you understand the material. Getting involved is also a great way to make friends rule, so don’t be afraid to try something new.
What has been your biggest challenge during your time at St. Mike's, and how did you get through it?
My biggest challenge was when I got a concussion playing rugby, and I had to miss 3 weeks of class. Even after I was cleared to go to class, I couldn’t really do anything for a while. But my amazing professors were so understanding about it! They gave me more time on my assignments, and replacement assignments so I could make up the work I missed. I will forever be thankful for their kindness. They really helped me get through it.
What are some of your most important goals for yourself?
For the short term, I want to try something new each semester, and create personal relationships with my professors. I’d love to be able to get coffee with them and discuss economics even after I graduate. For my longer term goals, I’d love to learn Spanish before I die, and hopefully travel to a Spanish speaking country. I want to learn something that will change the way I think about life, and about how to solve problems. Most importantly, I want to help our society become a better place for all different kinds of people.