Christine Bangar’s journey to graduation
College of Biological Sciences, 2016
Big dreams from the beginning
Although I grew up in Minnesota, I am originally from New York, New York, where my parents had both immigrated from Guyana as children. I was my parents’ first child, and they raised me to take advantage of the opportunities I would have in the United States that weren’t available to them in Guyana. During my childhood, I thought about being a dentist, singer, or photographer—any occupation where I could make a difference.
Learning to lead
In school, I tried to get as involved as I could, whether it was as a member of Student Council, National Honor Society, or Future Leaders of America. My favorite group was Speech because I co-captained our team of over 70 students with two other girls. We placed first at multiple tournaments, but most importantly, this opportunity allowed me to develop my communication skills and grow as a person.
Joining an intellectual community
As a College of Biological Sciences (CBS) student, I participated in the college’s Nature of Life program, a four-day trip to the University of Minnesota’s Lake Itasca Biological Field Station in Itasca State Park. The trip brings together all first-year CBS students for intensive field and lab experiences, followed by a rigorous exam that gives us a feel for the academic challenges ahead. I was able to attend with my childhood best friend, who had also enrolled in CBS, and new friends.
Accepted to the U!
The College of Biological Sciences accepted my application to major in biology, and I planned to go into medicine. The University offered me great financial support—without it, I would not have been able to enroll. My parents were ecstatic that I was able to continue my education as a first-generation college student.
Living family values
Family values are important to me, so I encourage my siblings and cousins to do their best in school and think about their own futures. I tell them to stay open to new ideas, since experiences are what make you who you are. I’ve learned this myself at the U: I entered CBS planning to attend medical school, but decided to go into education, where I could use my academic and mentorship skills to inspire students.
Sharing my culture with my campus community
One of my most personally fulfilling achievements at the U was co-founding the West Indian Student Association. West Indian students are part of a small minority on campus, and our student association builds a community for West Indian students to gather and celebrate our culture.
Financial aid makes study abroad a reality
With financial aid from the U, I was able to realize a lifelong dream: I got to study abroad in Toledo, Spain, for May Session. I have always wanted to use my Spanish-language skills abroad, but coming from a single-parent household, I doubted that I’d ever have the opportunity.
A first-generation graduate
At my commencement, I became the first person in my family to graduate from college. As I think about becoming a teacher and guiding my students to their own college graduations, I am grateful for the scholarships and support that made it possible for me to achieve my dream. Thank you!
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