Q: Zaida, where are you from and what attracted you to Wesleyan?
A: I’m from Flushing, New York. Initially, I was attracted to Wesleyan because many students from the program I attend, Prep for Prep, have gone to or currently attend Wes. Since many students I respect went there, I figured that there must be something about this school that keeps bringing us here. I realized through my visits and talks with students that I love Wesleyan’s openness and diversity. Of course, no institution is perfect when it comes to embracing so many views, but Wesleyan offers far more than many other places. Everyone I met was so interesting!
Q: What are you majoring in and why is it important to you to have a liberal arts education?
A: I’m a double major in African-American studies and feminist, gender and sexuality studies. I’m also pre-med! My fields of study aren’t traditionally thought of as routes to the medical world, but I believe the humanities are necessary towards any career path. I find the sciences fascinating and vital, but in medical school they will surround me constantly, and I do not want to ever loose sight of the fact that the job requires that I interact with people. We need to understand why certain populations have unequal access to quality treatment, or why someone may be afraid to report their injuries of domestic violence. Otherwise, a doctor can’t serve anyone fully. Wesleyan’s liberal arts education allows me the flexibility to explore these while still fulfilling my pre-med requirements. I am especially glad to be surrounded by Wesleyan’s amazing visual arts.
Q: Who are some of your favorite professors, and classes at Wes?
A: Last semester, I took Service-Learning at Connecticut Valley Hospital with Professor Jim Donady. The concrete end-goal of the course was to interview our psychiatric patients using the CASIG (Client’s Assessment of Strengths, Interests, and Goals). But it was the intangible that I will never forget from this class: the affirmation of humanity. We are all people, yet some discard those with mental illness as “crazy”, as “other”, literally denying someone’s personhood. You might not think someone else, or even your own self, is interesting or deserving of respect. But you can make a movie out of anyone’s life, it is that important. You can make a life out of your life if you wanted to, you and everyone else is that important. Professor Donady’s stories and quirky ways have affirmed that. Additionally, Leah Wright’s Introduction to Modern African American History is the reason why I am an African-American Studies Major and Leticia Alvarado’s Latina Feminisms is why I’m pursuing FGSS. These amazing women have also taught me to dissect and trace back the chain reactions that create a person.
Q: What do you hope to do after Wesleyan?
A: After Wesleyan, I hope to become a gynecologist for underserved communities.