How Do You Defy?
Why Bryn Mawr?
Jamila: My high school math professor—an alumna—encouraged me to consider Bryn Mawr. I applied to several Sisters but chose Bryn Mawr because of how much I admire and respect her.
Zaynab: I knew from Jamila’s experience that it would be a good place to grow intellectually. Plus, I fell in love with the campus when I visited the first time.
What was it like to finish the semester during the pandemic?
Zaynab: The community was so supportive. The faculty adapted quickly so we could finish our work, and the deans did a lot of outreach to ensure we had what we needed. Jamila and I were able to stay on campus until July, which we and our parents back in Morocco really appreciated. It was good to be with other students. I felt safe.
What does the coming year bring for you as a recent graduate?
Jamila: It’s difficult to know. At first, I felt stuck because I wasn’t able to move on with my life, and I worried about how the economy is going to affect my class in the future. I’m feeling more optimistic now. My post-Bryn Mawr plans are slowly moving forward, and, if all goes well, I’ll start my new job as a quantitative analyst at BNP Paribas by the end of the year.
What have you learned about yourself during this time?
Jamila: I realized how much I’ve taken people for granted. I won’t delay time with family and friends anymore.
Zaynab: Little things like how I need to walk on Bryn Mawr’s campus just for its beauty. And more existential things like how believing in humanity is enough to get us through tough times.
Biggest Bryn Mawr lesson?
Jamila: Bryn Mawr has shaped how I carry myself in the world. I am true to myself and demand respect unapologetically.
Zaynab: I learned to go after every opportunity, especially those that seem intimidating. As a frosh, I somehow got the nerve to ask an astrophysics professor to put me on her research team just because the work sounded interesting. I thought my computer programming and math skills could be of some value. She said yes, and that led to a conference in India and a published paper with my name on it!
How do you defy expectation?
Jamila: Coming to the U.S. and studying at Bryn Mawr is far beyond what I ever expected for myself. I was nervous about double majoring in political science and economics, but the professors, especially Michael Rock and Sofia Fenner, boosted my confidence by treating me like a colleague. They invited me into their research and valued my contributions. I really appreciate that trust and grew immensely from the experience. It was humbling.
Zaynab: I can’t quantify how much I’ve changed in my two years at Bryn Mawr. The opportunities, challenges, and people have helped me to grow from a shy kid with little confidence to a self-assured woman with a relentless belief in myself.