I am a first-generation, low-income student and a proud Latina daughter of two Mexican immigrants, so I came to Georgetown University with few expectations of what college would be like. I just wanted to learn, explore and grow. Now, as I reflect on my Georgetown experience, I can say that I have grown into someone I am proud of. Overall, I consider my Georgetown experience a series of fortunate events that have led me exactly where I need to be.
Every day of my freshman year, I questioned whether I deserved to be at Georgetown. Imposter syndrome followed me into the classroom, across Healy Lawn and into every conversation I had with those from different backgrounds than me. I’ll never forget sitting in my “Problem of God” class after doing all the readings and still being confused about our discussion that day. In contrast, my peers were fully engaged in the discussion because they had read the texts in high school. Luckily, the New South Hall fourth floor common room was my safe haven. I made some of my closest friends at Georgetown there. We would blast music, create memes for the Georgetown meme page and pretend to do homework until 4 a.m. My friends were all from different backgrounds, but we still bonded and laughed at our nightly 6 p.m. family Leo’s dinners. Through this community, I learned I did indeed belong.
This initial sense of belonging encouraged me to make Georgetown my home, so I decided to become heavily involved on campus. During my freshman year, I was part of the Georgetown Scholars Program and Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society. Then, sophomore year, I joined The Corp at Vital Vittles, Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Georgetown and was even president of the Georgetown Pre-Law Society. Belonging, at the time, meant being the most typical Georgetown student I could be. I bought into Georgetown’s stress culture at the expense of my well-being, as I wasn’t getting enough sleep or making time for self-care. I had an amazing time making new friends, running from one meeting to another and maximizing my time, but I lost track of myself and my original personal goals.
During my junior fall, I went abroad to Queretaro, Mexico, where my peers and I focused solely on schoolwork and getting to know each other. For the first time, I didn’t have multiple club meetings a day. I had time to go to the gym, spent hours eating at different restaurants with friends on a school night and got to know my friends beyond their academic or career goals. At parties, no one asked me about my internship, what clubs I was part of or how “Comparative Political Systems” was going. This experience was a breath of fresh air and made me realize I needed to take a step back to value more meaningful relationships with people at Georgetown. I didn’t want to keep checking off items from the Georgetown student must-do list. Instead, I wanted to enjoy the more meaningful things Georgetown had to offer, primarily the community Georgetown created for me.
During my senior year, I decided to let go of almost all my old responsibilities and take time to create purposeful memories with the people I cared about. I wanted to stop focusing on the person I was trying to be at Georgetown and start thinking about the person I wanted to be after I left the front gates. I took a class called “Meditation and Leadership” through the McDonough School of Business, started spending a lot more time on Lauinger Library’s second floor talking with friends and finally had the confidence to go to office hours and get to know my professors. I enjoyed the present while preparing for the future.
Now, I reflect on how much I’ve grown over the past three years. I have mostly overcome my imposter syndrome, made more friends than I could have imagined, filled up my resume with very impressive experiences, taken time to breathe and reset and started to prepare for a life after Georgetown. I have grown into a woman I wouldn’t have imagined being when I first got here. It has been a ride. There have been good days and bad days, and friends have come and gone, but I have always been proud of my ability to overcome adversity and cherish the journey of doing so with the community of Hoyas around me.
Mayte Alonso is a senior in the College.