What to Expect from Customs Week – Chloe Owen ’19

Customs Week is a special time. You get to be on campus without any academic obligations, which doesn’t happen again. Because of this, you get the freedom to explore Bryn Mawr. The week is a welcoming introduction to your school for the next four years. You meet friends (in and out of your customs group!) and adjust to the new environment before school starts. Simply put, Customs Week is fun – don’t worry too much about it! J

–Chloe Owen ‘19

Mawrter Advice: Choosing Courses, From Claire Petitt ’19

Preregistration and choosing courses might seem intimidating or scary, but when looked at in the right way, it can actually be an exciting process! Many first-years mistake preregistration as a sort of binding contract and think that the classes they end up taking their first semester will end up dictating the entire course of their future academic career. However, as a first-year, signing up for (and taking) classes is really more of a chance to explore the multitude of options available to you and to hopefully learn more about the academic paths that interest you the most. Below are some tips for how to successfully tackle choosing your first courses:

  • Keep an open mind. Even if you think you know which discipline you want to major in right now, don’t lock yourself into taking the prerequisites for that major right away; there are paths of study here that you might never have thought would spark your interest.
  • Give some novel courses a try, even if you’re not sure you’ll like them. Your first few semesters here are a time for exploration. Take advantage of this time to figure out what really interests you.
  • Don’t worry too much about getting your college-wide requirements (CC, SI, IP, ) out of the way in your first few semesters. If you take the time to explore various disciplines throughout your time here, they’ll take care of themselves by the time you’re a senior. It’s a good idea to keep them in mind, but don’t let them completely dictate which courses you end up taking.
  • Have some variety in the classes you choose. You’ll have plenty of time to specialize later.
  • Don’t overload yourself your first semester. It’s a time of adjustment for everyone, and a heavy course load can make an already challenging (though rewarding) time more stressful than it needs to be. That being said, make sure that you do take one or two courses that you know will challenge you. College is a time for great personal growth, and challenging courses that take you outside of your comfort zone will help you become a better student.
  • Choose courses that genuinely interest you. Every discipline is “relevant” in some way, and all will help you to become a better thinker.
  • Ask any older students you know about what they know about particular professors or departments. While the courses you choose are important, it’s equally important (if not more so) to consider the professor and the department you’ll be spending a good portion of your time in.
  • Talk with your Dean! Your Dean is there to help you navigate through the sea of choices available to you.
  • Breathe! You don’t have to have it all figured out right now. Take this time to get to know yourself and the school better.

–Claire Petitt ‘19

Tips on Packing for College, From Carrie Filion ’19

I am about to say the words that most parents and guardians dread hearing: believe it or not, it is possible to pack too little for college. Speaking from experience, an empty, under-decorated room is a very sad room. While minimalist packing and bringing only the essentials is nice, it doesn’t exactly create a room environment that you’d want to spend a year in. Keep in mind that your dorm is your new home: make it yours! Personalize it – bring things that may not be necessary, but are pretty and make you smile. If saving space is your style, consider flags or tapestries that can be folded into compact spaces. Don’t forget to bring a light or two, as it can get dark without the natural lighting, and the right lights can transform a space and your mood!

–Carrie Filion ‘19

Metacognition and the Transition to College

Metacognition and the Transition to College (GNST B048) is an alternative pathway to fulfill your Wellness requirement.  Unlike the THRIVE Seminar (the traditional way to fulfill your Wellness Requirement) that meets only for the first 10 weeks of the semester, this class will meet twice a week for the full semester.  In addition to earning 2 Physical Education (PE) credits, students in this class will also earn 0.5 academic credits while using metacognition (a fancy term for learning about your own learning) to bring out their best selves in and out of the classroom.  The seminar will be a small, inquiry-based course that will promote and encourage intellectual confidence by developing student success tactics including critical thinking, written and oral communication, research skills, self-reflection, and self-regulation – all while addressing larger questions of justice, identity, and community.  First-year students will have an opportunity to preregister for this course starting when preregistration opens on August 3rd.  Simply search for the course under the General Studies subject in the drop down list.

Who’s Whoo: Kirsten O’Beirne


Kirsten O'Bierne Who's Whoo

Kirsten O’Beirne, Registrar

What I do: The Registrar’s Office coordinates all aspects of course planning, registration and grading. I oversee the work we do with faculty and departments to gather course information and grading. We work with students around registration, doing the set-up in BiONiC and answering student questions during registration.  One of the things I do in particular is work with students on transferring credits from other Colleges back to Bryn Mawr.  So if you are ever thinking of taking a summer course, please come to see me!

  • Favorite book or movie: I am a big Harry Potter fan (books and movies).
  • Dream vacation spot: I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, and I would love to go there.
  • Favorite dessert: chocolate chip cookies
  • Best thing about Bryn Mawr: Bryn Mawr’s campus!  It is beautiful!
  • Best thing about the Registrar’s Office: I like technology, but I would never want to stare at a screen all day. In the Registrar’s Office we use BiONiC to make things like registration more efficient so that we have time to work directly with student on other things.
  • BMC club/activity I’d like to join: The BMC Greens!
  • Tip for the first year at BMC: Ask questions!  You will hear about all sorts of things this summer and during Customs Week, but no one expects you to remember everything!  We are happy to answer questions.
  • What I like about working with new students: The excitement and enthusiasm that new students bring at the start of the semester is contagious.
  • Favorite thing about my job: I love Bryn Mawr! In the Registrar’s Office we work with faculty, students, administrative staff and alums so you can really see the mission of the College in action.
  • Favorite spot on campus: My office – really, my office is awesome.  I also love the Taft Garden behind Canaday Library.
  • In my free time, I enjoy: Reading, and doing fun stuff with my daughter.
  • If I were an animal, I’d be: I’d probably be a cat.
  • Little known fact about me: I’ve been to every state on the east coast and the west coast of the US, but only one state in between.
  • My secret talent: I’m pretty good at trivia, as long as it isn’t about music.
  • Nickname: Kir
  • On my summer to-do list is: Vacation, vacation and getting zucchini to grow in my garden – I have checked them all off!

More Tips from Mawrters: The First Year Experience Outside the Classroom

Dance: There are lots of opportunities to be involved with dance at Bryn Mawr: clubs, classes, ensembles, the Fall Student Dance Concert, professional performances, and workshops. You can join the clubs at Fall Frolic, the club fair that occurs every Fall semester. There are many different types of dance clubs. Consider joining one you’ve never heard of; you might just fall in love with it! Dance classes can be taken for academic or PE credit, and there are also a lot of different types of dance classes here. Be sure to look through all of your options if you plan to take a dance class! Ensembles offer auditions once a semester. There are ensembles for Modern, Ballet, Jazz, African, and Hip-Hop. The Fall Student Dance Concert is held every fall and is completely student-run. You can perform, choreograph, help with tech, or produce! Everyone is welcome to be a part of this concert – just sign up at Fall Frolic to receive the e-mails. The Dance department will also send out e-mails about professional performances and workshops that will be offered throughout the year. If you love dance, you should consider a minor or create your own major! There are so many different ways to get involved, so if one way doesn’t work for you at first, don’t worry –  you can always be part of the large dance community!

–Kat Phifer ‘19


Considering that I had never had a roommate before college, I was prepared for a less than ideal roommate experience. I am here to tell you now that my fears were completely unfounded. I can’t speak for everyone’s situation, but I could not have had a better roommate experience my freshman year. Of course, some things are out of our control, but here are some tips for cultivating the ideal roommate setup:

  1. You can mitigate some of your uncertainty by finding your roommate online via Facebook. Make sure you have had ongoing conversation and established rapport. The college generally does a good job of creating positive roommate setups, but meeting the person beforehand will foster congeniality and ‘good vibes’.
  2. ROOMATE CONTRACTS ARE NO JOKE. Outline all possible concerns in your roommate agreement. You never know when you might have to refer back to the contract as your guiding light.
  3. Don’t have a ‘right or wrong’ mentality. In many arguments, there is no ‘right answer’ or ‘wrong answer’. Instead, all parties must compromise for the greater good- in this case cohabitation.
  4. IF YOU CAN’T reach an agreement of some sort as outlined by tip 3, bring in an unbiased third party to help you reach a decision. This person could be an HA or Peer Mentor if you so desire.
  5. ENJOY YOUR ROOMATE. You have to live with this person. So why not love this person? Find out who they are and make a point of spending time with them. I guarantee you will have less quarrels and awkwardness. Just have fun with this aspect of the college experience!

–Madeline Perry ‘19


Being an athlete has always been a huge part of my life, and I suppose that it will be the same for quite a few of you who are planning to come to Bryn Mawr this Fall. While I wasn’t completely sure if I wanted to be a collegiate athlete (keeping in mind the time commitment and dedication needed), I could not imagine my everyday life without swim practice. I proceeded to hesitantly join the swim team, and now, I wouldn’t change that decision for anything. Bryn Mawr has given me 12 sisters in the form of my team, and I couldn’t be more thankful. However, I do have to mention that being an athlete is hard. You’re supposed to manage studies, sports, social life, self-care, and so many other things. It can be overwhelming, and a lot of the time, I just want to crawl into bed and take a nap instead of swim. At the same time though, those days have taught me how strong I am, and how I am capable of so much. Being an athlete pushes you to be the best version of yourself, and the challenge is well worth it. In the near future, I hope you all find second families in your sports teams, and become as proud as I am to represent Bryn Mawr athletics!”

–Shanzeh Shunaid ‘19

The Resiliency Project Experience: A Note from Amana Abdurrezak ’19

For me, the Resiliency Project gave me something to laugh at during the first few weeks, when I was feeling a bit homesick and unsure about college. TED Talks are such a fun way to learn (not to mention easy: just sit and listen), and the articles gave a little insight into what to expect in the upcoming months.
In my “Letter to Myself”, I gave myself a little pep talk, inserted a picture of Shia Lebouf’s “Just Do It” meme, and linked in a couple of my favorite YouTube videos at the time. In October, when I started feeling a little stressed out, I was surprised by just how much I needed that pick-me-up. You know yourself best, so have fun with the Letter! It’s for your eyes only anyway.

–Amana Abdurrezak ‘19

An Intro to THRIVE, from Wellness Coordinator, Tonja Nixon ’15

Hello Class of 2020!

Welcome to Bryn Mawr! We’re all so excited for your arrival, especially now that we’re in the second half of summer! My name is Tonja Nixon, and I serve as the Wellness Coordinator here on campus. My primary role is to oversee the THRIVE Seminar, from helping finalize the course content to being a resource for you as you complete your Wellness Requirement. My other hats include being an Assistant Coach for the Track & Fields teams and being an alum (Anassa Kata!) from the class of 2015. You can find me in Guild Hall (where the Dean’s Office is located) at my desk, or in Schwartz gym during Track Practice. On behalf of the Dean’s Office, we’re so excited for you all to get settled in! Part of that settling in, as you all know, is final registration for all of your courses once you arrive. One of those courses must satisfy your Wellness Requirement, which, as Wellness Coordinator, I’m here to tell you all about!

Your Wellness requirement is very important! Not only does the successful completion of your Wellness Requirement give you two of your PE credits for your PE requirement, but it is also a Graduation requirement. That being said, when the time comes, you must make sure you register for a course that satisfies the requirement! One of the courses that many of you will take is called THRIVE. THRIVE is a 10-week-long course solely for first-year students created to help with the transition to the Bryn Mawr community, adjust to college life, and help you navigate your way through all aspects of health, self-care and a good well-being. Essentially, this is a course built for you and your needs, and we’re super excited to partake in this experience with you!

Another way some students will fulfill their Wellness Requirement is through a course known as ‘Meta-cognition and the Transition to College’. More information about this course will be shared soon, so be on the lookout!

Congratulations on your enrollment into Bryn Mawr, and I can’t wait to meet all of you in person!

Tonja Nixon

Wellness Coordinator

Assistant Coach, Track & Field

Self-care Advice from Prakhya Malyala ’19

At Bryn Mawr, we emphasize self-care. More than just being a student here, we want you to nurture yourself so you can grow as an individual. I have found that my way of being content in college and practicing self-care is making sure I maintain an active social life. Bryn Mawr is a school that is all about taking advantage of opportunities. You can indulge in suburban life by going to quaint towns like Narberth or Ardmore. You can go on crazy shopping sprees in Wynnewood or King of Prussia. You can Megabus for a day or weekend to New York City or Washington D.C. You can go to a party at Swarthmore, the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford, or any other surrounding colleges. You can spend a night exploring the campus with friends, taking pictures, and meeting new people. You can go to conferences, lectures, speakers, or special academic events. Right in the town of Bryn Mawr, there’s a film institute, a million different types of places to eat, cute farmer markets, and more! You can go anywhere in one of the biggest and most interesting cities in America, Philadelphia! It is all easily accessible with SEPTA, Uber, Lyft, or friends’ cars if you know some kind upperclassmen. There are always events on Facebook to let you know what is going on around campus, other local campuses, on the mainline, or in the city. These events range from free museum pop-ups, market festivals, cultural and artistic exhibitions, dance parties, free ice-skating, holiday celebrations, concerts, fashion shows, dance competitions, teas, and making body scrubs in the art studio. I would know all the above are possible because I managed to all of these things in my first semester! So don’t be afraid to take that leap, try taking a buddy and tell as many people you know about the events that you are thinking of going to. Bryn Mawr is a place where you can sit down and start a conversation with pretty much anyone in the dining halls. It is a place where it is easy to make friends and have amazing experiences, if you put yourself out there a little. I think that this has made me feel very contented during my time at Bryn Mawr. I was able to work hard in my classes with the motivation that I also have a lot of fun things going on in my life to look forward to. I feel comfortable in my academic environment because I’ve bonded with my peers in extracurricular realms as well. Take care of yourself, because no one else will know how. I like to think that at Bryn Mawr, the world is yours, but it’s your job to run it! Good luck 2020, you’ll be great with some self care!

–Prakhya Malyala ‘19

First-Goers Welcome Reception

Welcome BMC Class of 2020!

My name is Emma Porter and I am a rising senior Political Science major and Education minor. In the Spring of 2015, me and a couple of friends started a group for students who identify as first generation college students. We have since competed our first full year as an SGA club and call ourselves “First Goers”. First Goers are anyone who identify as students who are the first generation of their families to pursue higher education. Neither of my parents attended college, and I noticed that this can sometimes presented some challenges to navigating my first year at Bryn Mawr. This past year, “First Goers” has demonstrated the presence of our demographic on Bryn Mawr’s campus by holding a few different events. We held a session at this Spring’s Community Day of Learning, and we have also gained members from our faculty and staff. Additionally, Aarionna Goodman, BMC 2019 and First Goer from Philadelphia, became our treasurer this spring. She, as well as other first goers, were among my close friends this past year, and we met every week for dinner.  We have learned so much from each other and about the Bryn Mawr community this past year, and we look forward to meeting some of you this upcoming year!

Annasa Kata,

Emma Porter, 2017


Hello, Class of 2020! My name is Aarionna, and I am a rising Sophomore and treasurer of First-Goers. My experience as a first generation college student doesn’t quite have the artistic dramatic flair fit for a farce film or a brilliant bestseller. In fact, it’s rather waveless. However, like your story, how it came to happen does not make it less important to me. As a first-gen student (Keeping in mind that I use this word loosely. First-gen can be defined in many different ways), naturally, I often found myself besieged by questions and concerns. Being the eldest of six with both parents lacking experience with college or university, I felt stuck. Yet, with all of this in mind, these concerns did not exactly follow me to Bryn Mawr. Questions often start in the early years of High School, so I applied for college prep programs in response to that daunting feeling of turning to that unread chapter in my life. Even with the help, I still had the first-gen title staring me in the face as I walked onto BMC’s campus. I learned that this was a feeling I can’t shake but it’s something you grow with as the title in turn shapes you.

Aarionna Goodman

Class of 2019

Intended English Major