Melanie Kallah at Claremont McKenna
What are some of the things you like about CMC?
"CMC supports its students in ways I’ve never seen at another college: from orientation trips at the beginning of the year that give you a great group of friends, to countless free activities, to the teachers themselves. If you think about your favorite teacher in high school, that’s pretty much every teacher at CMC. They are extremely passionate about what they do and they’re committed to their students, as evident by the office hours and willingness to support any student no matter where they are in their journey. I had teachers in my first semester who were willing to get on the phone with me and walk through my essay even when it wasn’t their office hours. Beyond academics, you’ll find that the social life is welcoming here. The students are intelligent, but there is not a stressful level of competitiveness that you find at most other colleges. I was worried about making friends, but the process could not have been easier with a support system given to me by the college and the type of students that attend CMC. Beyond that, CMC looks out for the safety of its students and their progression as a human beyond college."
What are you involved in?
"My two favorite things this past semester academically was my acceptance onto the Model United Nations team and my Intro to Arabic class! MUN is like a second family, and I’ve learned so much in just one semester. Though everyone competes as an individual in MUN, the team is incredibly supportive of every member, and as someone new to MUN I immediately felt welcome. With Arabic being such a hard language I was nervous to take this class. Surprisingly however, it immediately became my favorite course. Not only was the professor extremely kind and intelligent, she cared so much about her students but at the end of the semester, she threw a mini party for us at a Middle Eastern restaurant. I was able to grow close to her this past semester and knew that she was as committed as I was to seeing me succeed. The benefit of a small college like CMC, is that every teacher is able to get to know their students and connect with them on a deeper level. Knowing that you are not a number truly alters your experience as a student as it did in this class."
What is something that surprised or excited you about college?
"I was nervous about making friends. However because of the support system CMC has in place, the process of connecting with people was so easy. I will be honest, anyone’s freshman year, especially the first semester, will feel lonely. But, with countless clubs, outgoing students, and social events, it’s almost impossible to not meet someone you’ll become friends with. The thing that surprised me the most however, was how connected people are with the staff. I have friends that will jam out in the music room with the security guards when they’re off shift, and I’ve sat down for tea at the Athenaeum with almost all my teachers."
Fun fact you have learned
"I will forever look forward to two things at the cafeteria that I never expected: the pizza and the churros. The pizza is probably the best I’ve had in my life. Secondly, my roommates and I have a tradition that any night they have churros, we grab a bunch and dip them in a mocha latte. It is incredibly delicious."
Doing anything fun on the weekends?
"CMC students always love to have something to do! To have such a full life after Covid and spending my senior year online was incredible. I loved going to the village on the weekend to see the farmers market with my roommates, going to the music room, attending amazing talks at the Athenaeum, and going to parties. It’s true that CMC students work hard and play hard, but that being said I have never once felt unsafe in any party scene, which I am extremely grateful for. This is in part due to the orientation we receive and the constant reminders from the school about how to say safe, and also in part due to a group on campus called Advocates which is dedicated to ensuring the safety of students. They will “lifeguard” at parties, and I’ve received training in bystander intervention. All the students are volunteers and are not paid, which I think is yet another testament to the care CMC students have for each other."
What did UniVarsity help you with most?
"The biggest thing I received help in was organization and accountability. The hardest thing about any of the essays or part of the application process with starting and committing fully to the process. I cannot even begin to say how thankful I am for the support I received and how it was able to keep me on track. Furthermore, I received a lot of aid in organizing my ideas and making sure they got on the page in a clear, concise, and creative manner. I stressed for so long about my personal statement and was so glad to have it done the summer before. It was the greatest bonus and gave me so much confidence."