Faces of Mason

Interviews by Basma Humadi, Lifestyle Assistant Editor


Photo Courtesy of Melissa Bautista

Student: Melissa Bautista

Who’s your biggest inspiration?

My biggest inspiration is my mother because she’s one of the hardest working human beings I’ve ever met in my life. My mom was the first in our family to arrive in the United States back in 1983, fleeing the Civil War that was taking place in El Salvador. She also took on the role to provide and help her family back in El Salvador by working multiple jobs in Los Angeles.  Coming to a new country, not knowing the language, not having any family here and making a life out of nothing, really makes my mom my biggest inspiration

What did you do this past summer?

This past summer I went to El Salvador. My reason for my visit was to pay my last respects to my grandmother My grandmother passed away three years ago and I was not able to say my final goodbye to her due to me being in school. I was very close to my grandmother so the fact that I could not attend her funeral was very hard.

What motivates you to get up in the morning?

What motivates me in the morning is coffee. I know I may sound crazy but the fact that I get to wake up early just to have my cup of coffee is my motivation. Once I have my cup of coffee I’m good for the day and I feel so happy.

Photo by Allie Thompsn

Photo by Allie Thompson

Professor: Wendi Manuel-Scott

What is your proudest achievement and why?

I’m torn between two different types of moments. One, is the small moment. There was a point about a year ago. A student was in my class and I could tell that she was struggling. She was on my mind and I happened to bump into her outside the tea shop and said “what’s going on?” and she just exploded with emotion and angst and turmoil. And she said, “I think I’m dropping out. I just don’t think I can stay any longer.” And I said “Yes you can. You can do this.” And we continued to talk and eventually I said “look, if you stay. I’ll commit to taking you under my wing, and taking you and supporting you. But you can do this. You got this. You’re not going to let all of those challenges get in the way and prevent you from getting to your finish line.” And she stayed. And she’s doing amazingly well.

What made you want to get into teaching?

It depends on the day you ask me that question. Somedays, I’ll say I remember when I was a little girl I would line up my teddy bears and I used to teach my teddy bears. There’s always been a part of me that wanted to change lives- and that sounds really mushy, but there’s lots of different ways to do that work. There’s lots of different ways to make your corner of the world a little bit better. And the way I choose to do that work is in a university, in a classroom.

I don’t know. I just always knew I wanted to do something that was meaningful.

What was your first job outside of college and what was that experience like?

I took a year off and I worked as receptionist while I was applying to graduate programs. I think it became very clear to me immediately there was no way that was going [to happen].- it was in a hospital. There were all these physicians around and there was this air that they were obviously much more intelligent than all of us. That space did not feel right to me. My soul wasn’t being fed. My spirit wasn’t being fed because I wasn’t doing stuff that mattered to me. Or at least not a 9 to 5.

Photo by Basma Humadi

Organization: MAPS- Multicultural Association of Pre-health Students; Teresa Neves- Event Coordinator, Amira Dalmazio- President

What does MAPS do?

We try to facilitate minorities in medical fields. So we do that by having speakers come in, like Dr. Rockwood and Dr. Lucy – who came and talked about his experience in Doctors Without Borders and researching during the Ebola crisis. We try to get people interested in medicine because I think sometimes for minorities it can get lonely and then they start dropping out because it gets so hard and no one’s there to support them. So we’re trying to be that kind of support mechanism. We’re giving them opportunities to visit medical schools, apply to PA schools, give them volunteer opportunities.

What made you want to join this organization?

Neves: Freshman year, I was just wandering around looking for pre-health clubs and MAPS came up on Ms. Rockwood’s list. So I checked it out and everyone was so nice. They were like, “hey welcome! We have food and here’s our meeting.” And I really really enjoyed it. Especially because they had all these doctor speakers come in and it was so cool being able to talk to them and have their experience shared. For me, it was a nice support mechanism to be able to go there and learn about volunteer opportunities, know about de-stress events, learn about how to write a resume, and learn about what to do when you’re applying.

DalmazioThe way I joined MAPS was our old President restarted the club after it was inactive. I remember sitting in our genetics laboratory and she was talking about it. She was my lab partner and she was like “oh let’s join, that’s so cool.” And we stuck with it and it’s my third year on the board now.

Neves: It’s grown so much too. When I went freshman year, it was like five or ten people. Now we average about twenty or thirty.