Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Arts & Humanities
Why did you choose to attend Minerva?
I found out about Minerva through the United World Colleges network. In high school, I participated in an online program called Online UWC and took courses in Human Rights and International Politics. The students were from all around the world and I was one of only two Canadians, so it was a very diverse environment. It was an amazing experience because we were able to talk about our different perspectives on human rights whereas, at home, most of my peers shared the same opinions. In Calgary, you are not going to end up with many people disagreeing with you, so it is hard to broaden your perspective. It was enlightening to learn with people from different cultures and to experience new ideas in a non-polarizing way.
After Online UWC, I looked for opportunities to continue engaging in a multicultural environment. So when I found out about Minerva and saw a map that showed the global rotation, I realized that Minerva spoke to me in a way that no other university had.
What do you like about Minerva academics?
The two main things that I like most about the academics are the Habits of Mind and Foundational Concepts (HCs) and how the HCs are taught. In our first year, we learn the HCs, which are general concepts that are applicable to a wide variety of situations. Instead of immediately learning the specifics of a single field, such as the structure of a cell, we learn how to interpret and understand research methods overall.
Furthermore, I appreciate the repeated application of the HCs so that learning and applying them to everyday life becomes more natural and almost automatic. Back in high school, we had tests and — while I was able to do well — I wouldn’t be able to recall most of the material now because we were only required to memorize it for the short term. Practicing applying concepts at Minerva has been a more effective teaching model for my style of learning rather than simply memorizing concepts. I have been able to retain information more effectively and adapt concepts to distinct contexts with more ease.
What do you aspire to do when you graduate? What is a problem you would like to address in the world?
While I cannot say with certainty what I would like to pursue after graduation, I am interested in a career in either law or academia. What I do know is that I want to be of service to the public — I want to help people have a better life. I’m passionate about women’s rights because I think equality is something so incredibly important yet is often overlooked. While we have made a lot of progress, I think there is still a long way to go. Since I have the capacity to be an advocate for other people who might not have their voice right now, that’s something that I would like to tackle.
How are you starting to do so already? What are some steps you are taking?
My final project this year is focused on developing an experience that will help men in the workplace become better allies to women who are victims of sexual harassment. Last semester, I looked into the role of power structures in propagating sexual harassment in the workplace. I’ve been able to work with our Civic Partner, BetterBrave, which is an incredible organization that targets workplace harassment. Their company focus is something that I have never seen before and it’s very heartening to know there is a whole group dedicated to this cause.
My civic project experience has helped me to gain more insight into this very complex problem as I learn about other people’s experiences and become more aware of sexual harassment and discrimination in workplaces across the country. This opportunity has allowed me to focus my passion where I can begin to develop myself professionally towards an area of impact.
Tell us about one challenge you are passionate about solving in the city you live in, or will live in, while at Minerva?
I am invested in equal representation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, as there is a lot of room for growth. Female representation in these fields is far too low and is a result of the fact that women rarely feel like there is a place for them there. In the Bay Area, this is a very prevalent issue and my classmates and I would really like to get engaged with this cause more deeply.
Have you participated in a co-curricular that has changed how you think about the world? If so, what co-curricular was it and how did it challenge your thinking?
One lesson I remember distinctly from the co-curricular, “Launching an Idea & the Future of Home-Cooking” with Lisa Fetterman from Nomiku, is how to build respect around your own ideas, then get people on board and sell it. She highlighted that there is not a barrier between people who are successful and students who do not yet have their own career, especially in the Bay Area. Being passionate about common topics can bring people in very different stages of life together and she advised us to keep asking questions and to push the narrative.
This changed my worldview because I tend to be a more passive person as opposed to someone who would continuously ask people for a response until I was successful. Her advice has made me more comfortable with stepping outside of my comfort zone and I have become much more confident with approaching new people.
What do you enjoy most about being a part of the Minerva community?
Something I really appreciate about the community is that it is very team-oriented. Even if we don’t do everything together, we all interact with and support one another at the end of the day because there is no reason not to. No one brings each other down or downplays their efforts from others.
For example, since we are all new to active learning and the Minerva curriculum, we have become very collaborative. We are all able to help one another in fields where we might have more expertise and, if we’re struggling in an area, it’s really easy to find someone who is willing to help. Simply walking into the residence hall hallway is enough to find another person who is more than willing to help you. This level of support is too rare in academic environments and I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of such a community.
What would you tell another student who is considering Minerva?
Coming to Minerva drastically changes the way you learn. It’s going to completely flip the way you have experienced education in the past. If you are frustrated with learning very specific and targeted concepts and if you are interested in learning material that is easily adaptable to a wide variety of fields, then Minerva is a good place for you. Also, if you are interested in living with and learning from many different people with varied backgrounds and cultures, coming to Minerva is one of the best choices you could make.
How is Minerva shaping the future, in your own words?
Minerva is equipping students with the tools to tackle anything they want. Even in our first year, we are learning the basic skills that will allow us to approach any problem we see in the world. Between the HCs and experiential pedagogy, when we leave San Francisco at the end of the first year, we will have the foundations to tackle some of the biggest issues facing the world right now, with an extraordinarily multidisciplinary view.
If you were inspired by Cristina's story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.