Group photo of Leslie and student coordinators

Our Team

Created by and for students, our program is managed by Leslie Castrejon'15, Assistant Dean for Student Support & Belonging with the help of four student coordinators.

In alphabetical order, the Breaking Barriers Student Coordinators for the Academic Year of 2022-2023 are listed below.

Breaking Barriers Student Coordinators

Francis Arellano’25

Why did you want to become a coordinator?

Watching Breaking Barriers cultivate a community environment for the First-Generation, Low-Income, Undocu+ community during my first year was pivotal for myself as I was trying to find support and belonging on campus. Our mission is personal to me as a child of immigrants who grew up preserving a cultural space of joy, dance, music, and food with my Oaxacan immigrant community in Los Angeles, California. As we have navigated life together, we constantly collaborate as a community to cultivate a space we belong in despite being a community that has been underserved. Similar to Breaking Barriers, I have the desire to connect people in hopes of having a sense of belonging in an institution like Bryn Mawr. In the setting of an educational institution, it can be intimidating and overwhelming to find this sense of community. My work with Breaking Barriers has helped me see the larger picture and my potential role in improving this. I am grateful to have met and continue meeting so many people across campus. I look forward to continuing learning, growing, and sharing so much through Breaking Barriers!

What is one thing not many people know about you?

I have been dancing Oaxacan folklorico for 10 years now! We have participated in la Guelaguetza, Oaxaca’s biggest festival, across California at Los Angeles, Fresno, Oxnard, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa. Last year, we were invited to dance on the east coast for the first time in Washington, D.C.!

Veronica Ramirez’23

Why did you want to become a coordinator?

I'm interested in working with FGLI because I want all FGLI students to thrive at Bryn Mawr and beyond. I'm passionate about connecting students with resources and increasing access to opportunities. I am here to share what I've learned on my journey as a FGLI Mexian American student from Los Angeles, California. As well as provide a listening ear when you need it.

What is one thing not many people know about you?

Something not many people know about me is...I love traveling and going to places on my own! I've been to four Romeo/Aventura concerts in different states (LA, NJ, DC, & FL); I went to two of them by myself!

Estefania Torres’23

Why did you want to become a coordinator?

I am constantly finding ways to support my community here at BMC. Being offered the opportunity to work as a student coordinator using my knowledge from my Pensby Fellowship on Undocu+ Undergraduate Support was the perfect means to continue to support others on campus that I care about. While also allowing me a means of ensuring that Bryn Mawr is a better place for students that come after me. BMC has connected me with so many wonderful people and experiences, and my hope, through my student coordinator position, is to ensure that this same sentiment can be felt for other students through the resources and programming that Breaking Barriers provides. I have had a wonderful growing and learning experience in my one year working for the Breaking Barriers program, and I am excited to see what is to come this year! 

What is one thing not many people know about you?

I love learning about herbology and plant medicine for fun! I usually study these things as a side hobby, but now, I have been taking more classes that apply this knowledge! I recommend to everyone to take Dr. Wilson’s Botany class and Haverfarm as a PE class! 

Iniya Vensel’25

Why did you want to become a coordinator?

Arriving at a predominantly-white institution (PWI) such as Bryn MawrI, was my first experience being in a majority white space as the public schools I attended were mostly Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), and I really struggled finding those dealing with the similar culture shock, homesickness, and struggle of the cost of living that most lower-income, BIPOC students face. I want to serve as a resource and a point of leadership for students like me, that incoming First-generation, Low-Income (FGLI) first-year students can approach, be themselves around, and have their identity and problems understood. I contribute to the activities, conversations, and outreach of the Breaking Barriers program through my social background as a child of immigrant parents, a child who grew up in a chaotic family, and as a child who grew up poor, as well as my cultural background as a dark-skinned, queer Thamizh woman. I know that there is very little representation of low-income students who are South Asian, and it is difficult to find peers coming from unprivileged backgrounds as a Brown student. It is important to me to increase the perspectives and cultures presented in our on and off-campus activities and events, nurturing de-colonial, cultural healing practices in white-centered spaces like Bryn Mawr. I hope to continue spreading the excitement and relief of finding peers to share experiences and culture with on campus, as well as continue spreading knowledge, love, and support to my FGLI peers coping with navigating a PWI and the oppressive society beyond.

What is one thing not many people know about you?

I really love participating in and learning about the vibrant immigrant cultures and community of Philly, and I recommend everyone to take at least one of Professor Veronica Montes’ classes at Bryn Mawr! Being in the Tri-Co Philly program, and being an immigrant of Indigenous background myself, I’ve especially loved learning about the rich, ancestral Mexican traditions and communal practices of food, music, and dance that is present in Philly. It is so refreshing and healing to find and take part in cultural celebration and freedom so far away from home, and it has encouraged me to continue reconnecting with my Tamil heritage as well.