Williams Firsts Orientation Leaders 2020

Orientation Co-Directors

Name:  Michelle Lopez
Class year: 
  American Studies; Latinx Studies concentration
Bronx, New York
Campus activities: 
Williamstown Elementary School, Justice League, Williams Firsts Board
Most memorable Williams experience: 
Taking a 7am swim class, spending spring break in Puerto Rico as part of class and, of course, Pre-Orientation!
Words of wisdom for incoming Firsts students:  You don’t need to know what your major is or what classes you want to take spring semester. If you’re worried about not knowing something coming in, you have people to help you figure it out! Your plans will change and things will go in unexpected directions. Enjoy the ride!

Name:  Connor Middleton
Class year:  2022
Pronouns:  he/him
Major:  Economics; History
Hometown:  Miller Place, Long Island, NY
Campus activities:  Admission Ambassador, Ritmo Latino, EOS High School Mentoring, Peer Tutor, Tour Guide
Most memorable Williams experience:  My favorite memories are just times spent with the people I deeply care about— performing in the Ritmo fall show was one of the highlights of the semester, taking short rides through the mountains on sunny days to MassMoCA and diners, stargazing on the soccer fields during the summer, reconnecting and dancing with recent alums at Homecoming, the list goes on and on!
Words of wisdom for incoming Firsts students:  Being First, we might all feel alone at different times through the college process. But being Williams Firsts means we always have community to rely on. No one has all the answers, not even (or especially) after graduation. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to ask for help. Remember there’s a whole community behind you every step of the way here, eager to help. We fall back on each other and lift each other up. Welcome to the family!

Orientation Leaders

Name:  Amy Martinez
Class year:  2023
Pronouns:  she/her
Major:  (prospective) Psychology; Public Health concentration; Pre-Med track
Hometown:  Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Campus activities:  Vista Board Member, Matriculate Advising Fellow, First Grade Buddy through the Center for Learning and Action (CLiA), Research Assistant in the Psychology Department, Questbridge
Most memorable Williams experience:  Attending the Summer Science Program where I met so many amazing people! I also enjoyed spending Winter Study binge watching Love Island with some of my closest friends on campus. It was a great opportunity to spend some quality time with them and relax a bit from the intensity of the Williams academics.
Words of wisdom for incoming Firsts students:  This will be one of the most exciting and scary experiences of your life! It can be really easy to get caught up in the Williams bubble, but try to make time for yourself and your family back home, too. Don’t forget to call them. Whenever you are hit with homesickness, know that you will be okay. That one way or another, you WILL get through this. Surround yourself with people who enhance your personality and do not be afraid to reach out if you are struggling. We are here for you! You are loved and appreciated no matter what. Don’t ever forget that!

Name:  Cinthya Maldonado
Class year:  2023
Pronouns:  she/her
Major:  Psychology; Pre-Med track
Hometown:  Miami, Florida
Campus activities:  Vista, CSAC Board Member (Chemistry Student Association), Accessibility Coordinator, Record Staff Writer, All Campus Entertainment Board
Most memorable Williams experience:  When I think to Willliams, I think of late nights studying with my friends, laughing and telling stories while doing psets (“psets” = problem sets = homework assignments). I loved my WOOLF experience, spending time with Vista friends in West on weekend nights and renting Zipcars to go on spontaneous Dunkin runs.
Words of wisdom for incoming Firsts students:  It’s not going to be easy. In fact, I think Williams might be one of most challenging experiences of your life. But there is a reason you are here, even if some days you question it, know that there are people that believe in your strength, that believe in you whole-heartedly! Surround yourself with those people, you belong, you can do this, one step at a time.

Name:  Emily Kondo
Class year:  2023
Pronouns:  she/her
Major:   Biology; Political Science; Pre-Med track
Hometown:  Waipahu, Hawaii
Campus activities:  Williams Firsts Board, Greylock Middle School After School Tutor, Zilkha Center Green Offices Intern, Matriculate Advisor
Most memorable Williams experience:  My Williams experience has been defined in a large way by my friends. I don’t have a specific most memorable experience, but binge-watching Avatar the Last Airbender over Winter Study, late-night birthday surprises, and hanging out in my common room are just a few memories I hold dear from my first year.
Words of wisdom for incoming Firsts students:  Take time to break away from the books to appreciate the people and the opportunities around you. Don’t miss meeting and learning from people who may change the way you look at the world. The Berkshires are beautiful and Williams is a college with so many opportunities, take advantage of them.

Name:  Hamza Mankor
Class year:  2022
Pronouns:  he/him
Major:  Critical Theory
Hometown:  Jersey City, New Jersey
Campus activities:  Track & Field, Cross Country, Society of Griffins, Black Student Union, WASO, Concert Choir
Most memorable Williams experience:  Spontaneous weekend road trip to Kentucky and Ohio with my teammates, hanging with my best friends (who I almost entirely met during Pre-Orientation!) and just vibing or making music, heading to Morocco during Winter Study using school funds
Words of wisdom for incoming Firsts students:  Do not be afraid to change, and do not be afraid to be afraid. Live kindly and love bravely. And do not let school prod you into forgetting to be who you deserve to be. And also get your JAs to buy a Brita filter for the entry, water is important (less dramatic sorry)

Name:  Karla Mercedes
Class year:  2023
Pronouns:  she/her
Major:  (prospective) Psychology
Hometown:  Teaneck, New Jersey
Campus activities:  Ritmo Latino, Williamstown Elementary School Classroom Helper & Math Buddy, Psychology Research Assistant
Most memorable Williams experience:  It’s all in the little things. Sharing nachos at 82’ Grill with my friends, early morning Ritmo Latino practices, morning study sessions at Goodrich Coffee Bar, grabbing coffee with my favorite profs.
Words of wisdom for incoming Firsts students:  Be gentle with yourself! There will be times in which you feel overwhelmed at Williams, but I promise you won’t be the only one. You will have a whole community here ready to catch you if you fall. See you soon!

Name:  Katelyn Harris
Class year:  2022
Pronouns:  she/her
Major:  American Studies
Hometown:  Alberta, AL
Campus activities:  Aristocows, Matriculate, Williams Firsts
Most memorable Williams experience:  My most memorable experience was a dance performance I took part in Freshman year! I was never much of a dancer, but during winter study I decided give it a shot by taking a hip hop class. The visiting instructor was so amazing I decided to take her spring semester course as well, which meant I would be in the class’s final performance. I’ll never forget the thrill of being on the stage and hearing my friends’ supportive cheers–or the surprise on my mom’s face when I returned home with a suddenly newfound sense of rhythm.
Words of wisdom for incoming Firsts students:  While you should allow yourself room to explore the extracurriculars Williams has to offer, don’t overwhelm yourself! It may sometimes seem as if everyone on campus is a member of at least a dozen clubs or projects and that you’re somehow not doing “enough”, but don’t feel pressured to sign up for everything.

Name:  Kenneth Chiu
Class year:  2023
Pronouns:  he/him
Major:  Economics; Political Science
Hometown:  Memphis, TN
Campus activities:  Log Lunch, Admissions Ambassador, Williams Firsts
Most memorable Williams experience:  Sleeping in on Mountain Day…I’ll try again next time around!!
Words of wisdom for incoming Firsts students:  Keep your focus on the bigger picture, even when you hit rough patches. Also, check your emails regularly and don’t be afraid to take advantage of the college’s resources.

Name:  María Fernanda Estrada
Class year:  2023
Pronouns:  she/her
Major:  Political Economy; Economics
Hometown:  Miami, FL
Campus activities:  The Williams Record Podcast, FAST (student government), Gospel Choir, Williams Firsts Board, VISTA, CISA, Frosh Council
Most memorable Williams experience:  My first Mountain Day apple cider doughnut!
Words of wisdom for incoming Firsts students:  Be intentional with what you do and the relationships you invest in.

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

Name: Maximilian Peters
Class year: 2023
Pronouns: he/him
Major:  History
Hometown:  Sioux Falls, SD
Campus activities:  Kusika, No Lost Generation, EphVotes, Williams Outing Club, WAFFLES, &, of course, Williams Firsts!
Most memorable Williams experience:  I had never danced, drummed, or performed in any serious way before, but once I was here at Williams, I decided to join Kusika, where I would do all of those things. It was very challenging for me, especially for my first few months, but I really enjoyed the people I was working with, and eventually I hit my stride. At the end of the fall semester, I was so proud of our work in Pachedu, my first performance with Kusika, because I had accomplished so many things that I thought I wasn’t ever capable of.
Words of wisdom for incoming Firsts students:  The Williams Firsts community is truly a family here away from home. If you’re ever struggling, those experiences are valid, & you will have the Williams Firsts family to try to support you. If you’re ever feeling proud, those experiences are extremely valid, & you will have the Williams Firsts community to celebrate you.

Name:  Pedro Rodriguez
Class year:  2023
Pronouns:  he/him
Major:  (prospective) Economics; Mathematics
Hometown:  Rockville, Maryland
Campus activities:  Ritmo Latino, WRAPS, VISTA, JV Basketball, Questbridge
Most memorable Williams experience:  Ritmo Latino fall show, Sunday lunches with my friends, Pick-up basketball Friday afternoons, VISTA meetings on Tuesday nights, playing board games and watching movies with friends, Summer Humanities & Social Sciences program.
Words of wisdom for incoming Firsts students:  Don’t forget to smile. Williams has its ups and downs but try to enjoy the journey and the relationships you make along the way.

Name:  Vannesa Gurrola-Mariscal
Class year:  2022
Pronouns: she/her
Major: (prospective) Statistics; Latina/o Studies concentration; Pre-Med track
Hometown:  East Palo Alto, CA
Campus activities:  Admission Ambassador, VISTA, Justice League, Accessibility Coordinator, pickup soccer
Most memorable Williams experience:  WOOLF, leading WOW/Previews, stargazing, Sunday brunch with my West friends at Driscoll, late-night study sessions and late-night snar with friends, Sunday morning study sessions at Tunnel City Coffee, and learning how to play squash with other admission ambassadors  :))
Words of wisdom for incoming Firsts students:  Don’t let your fears control you because at that point, the only person holding you back is yourself, while deep down you know exactly what you’re capable of. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to branch out. Know that you belong here and know that there are people supporting and cheering for you along the way!