My name is Xiomara Contreras and I am a sophomore studying Communication Studies and Latina/o Studies at Northwestern University. I found out about the Pullman Scholarship through my uncle’s fiancé, who was a recipient of the scholarship about fifteen years ago. Last year, I had the opportunity to attend the Pullman Scholar Symposium at the beautiful Gleacher Center overlooking the Chicago River. During lunch, I met current and incoming scholars. It was exciting to learn about other scholars’ experiences, challenges, interests, academics, and involvement in college. I enjoyed talking to the incoming students because they had a lot questions about the college transition and simple things like, “What should I bring to my dorm?” I was able to give them advice, but I also got to learn from my other peers and how they overcame obstacles in school.
At the symposium, I learned proper eating etiquette, in case I ever have a dinner with a potential employer, and I also learned about money management after college. I have a better understanding about life after college, including managing credit cards, college debt, getting an apartment, and budgeting smartly. I especially appreciated the alumni panel. There were four alumni who explained their journeys from college to careers. Many expressed that they were undecided or learned that their major did not matter to the fields they wanted to enter. There was a chemistry major who became a teacher and an art history major who started a beauty salon business and was a gallery curator. I was happy to learn that my major would not determine the rest of my life. As someone who is undecided about what career to pursue, I was excited to meet alumni who made their majors flexible. They pursued what they enjoyed learning in college, but also chose careers that made them happy. (more…)