Comfort Food, Comfort Zone
I identify as a Haitian American, 27-year-old, young professional, Christian woman. Depending on where I am and who I am with, one part of my identity is the focal point and influences how I am viewed and treated by others. As I reflect on my time at Bryn Mawr, I remember searching for a place that allowed me to embrace all my identities and help me through my journey of discovering my true authentic self.
I attended Bryn Mawr as a Posse Scholar. Although I was identified and selected by the Posse Foundation and Bryn Mawr administrators as one of 10 high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential, I sometimes questioned if I truly belonged in the Bryn Mawr community.
I worked at Haffner’s dining hall as the cook’s help for all four years. The small tasks of chopping vegetables, marinating food, and cooking meals reminded me of my family and our home. When I was growing up, my house was filled with family, food, and laughter. My parents instilled many values into me and my four siblings, and I maintained numerous traditions throughout the years. Being in the kitchen always brought me joy.
At Bryn Mawr, I quickly built friendships with each of the kitchen staff. Sometimes a few of them cooked me a meal like my mom often did when I mentioned I was craving a particular food. When they went on vacation, they brought me back gifts. At the end of my shifts, I often sat in the back room just to continue my conversations with them. Our conversations flowed as if I were speaking with my older siblings. As a farewell, one of the head cooks prepared my graduation lunch for me and my family. I never worried about how they viewed me because I always felt comfortable being myself.
It is not lost on me that some of my memorable College experiences are in a dining hall kitchen, but that is where my sense of belonging grew while at Bryn Mawr. With that growing sense of belonging, I also was able to realize that Posse was so much more than a scholarship for me to attend Bryn Mawr; it empowered me. I have learned the importance of bringing my entire authentic self wherever I go. I now know when I am selected for an opportunity, it is not a mistake nor by accident. Post Bryn Mawr, I have worked hard to overcome many self-doubts. I have accepted positions that challenge me and embrace diversity and inclusion both professionally and personally. Whether I am the only Black person, woman, or youngest individual, I deserve to be there and should not limit myself to my comfort zone. I have embraced new environments and opportunities with confidence because diversity of thought and background is valuable and can improve the experience for the people who come after me.
This issue of the Alumnae Bulletin presents reflections from Black alumnae/i and students spanning 65 years in the life of the College.