Lucheyla Celestino '23 - Introduction

Farm fest Hey! Welcome to my blog!

I am a rising sophomore, Spanish major and prospective Anthropology major. I have a passion for languages and social justice and I would love to serve as a resource for you! If you would like to reach out to me to ask any questions or to chat, please contact me at lcelestino23@amherst.edu

I come from Lynn, Massachusetts, but not that many people know where Lynn is. I usually ask people if they have ever heard of the Salem Witch Trials and most of the time the answer is yes. If you have not heard about them, click the link I provided and learn some history! If you already know what I’m talking about, then I’m here to tell you that Lynn is the city right next to Salem where all that spooky stuff happened. Lynn is about a two and a half hour drive to campus, so I’m not that far from my hometown. 

I am Dominican-American and my parents immigrated to America from the Dominican Republic before I was born. Being afro-latina is a huge part of my identity and I love embracing my heritage. Dancing is one important aspect of Dominican culture and it has grown to be one of the most important aspects of my own life for as long as I can remember. 

On campus I am involved in students-led clubs such as La Causa and the Black Student Union. I work two jobs on campus, one at the Queer Resource Center and the other at Phonathon in connection with the Amherst Fund. Right now during the summer I am working as a Visitor Relations intern for the admissions office, so if you sign up for a virtual information session and tour you might have me as your tour guide! 

Although I have only been at Amherst for a year, I can confidently say that this place is my new home. I am constantly discovering new things, and I can’t wait to share with you what my life at Amherst is like.

The Summer Bridge Program

Upon arriving in Amherst, I had only visited once in April of my senior year of high school for admitted students weekend. I hardly recognized the campus when I came back in the summer. In the middle of July, I embarked in a three week program called The Summer Bridge Program. Amherst provides this opportunity by invitation only to “FLI” (first-generation and low income) students. I was aware that this program was supposed to be an opportunity for me to adjust to the academic side at Amherst, but never had I anticipated how important this program would be for the social side and the rest of my time at Amherst. 

In these three weeks, you can take one out of three different tracks: the Humanities and Social Science Program, the Science Program, or the Quantitative and Social Science Program. I chose the Humanities and Social Science Program and I was grouped with a group of about ten students who chose the same track. The group and I went to every class together, including our mentor who served as a resource for us whenever we needed help. My mentor and I clicked right away and she is the reason I was able to get so comfortable in my first week on campus. 

Academically, the classes and the homework were rigorous. I was in an english course, a political science course, an economics course, and a philosophy course. I have yet to take a course in any of those majors during my first year, but I appreciated being in those courses because they were along the lines of what I am interested in studying. 

summer bridge Now you may be wondering what happens outside of the classroom. Well my answer is: basically anything you want to do. One day I could go into town with some friends and get bubble tea and the next I could just stay inside and do homework eating donuts that the mentors bought for us. My friends and I would play volleyball, wander around campus, or get Antonio’s pizza. The mentors would play board games or watch TV in the common room with us. We even had a s'mores night together and that was so much fun. The mentors especially did such an amazing job at being there for us mentally and emotionally. They always tried their hardest to give their best advice and make us feel welcome. The experiences I hold closest to my heart from this program are the ones that happened outside of the classroom and if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would.  First Day of School

Aside from being with your group all day for classes, there were also plenty of opportunities to meet and interact with students from the other tracks. All of us students and our mentors lived together in one dorm for the duration of the program. Ironically, most of my friends today actually did the Summer Science program and we met in so many different ways. I am grateful for all of the opportunities this program provided for me right off the bat, especially as a FLI student, but I am even more grateful to have met a group of people so willing to accept me and understand me. I love my friends so much and they honestly keep me going in my most challenging times. We do everything together, and I can confidently say that Summer Bridge was the glue that put us together. 

If you would like to learn more about the Summer Bridge Program, please feel free to email me and I would love to answer any questions you may have!

What's It Like Working On Campus?

If you’re wondering what work study is like, how easy it is to find a job on campus, or what it’s like to balance work and academic life, this is the blog post for you.

Before getting to Amherst, I didn’t know what work study meant. I didn’t know if I had to pay that money back to the school or if I was required to do work study because it was built into my financial aid package. When I arrived, I was pleased to find out that I could work whatever job I wanted on campus and I got to keep everything I earned. I also appreciated having so many options on campus because I wasn’t interested in finding a job off campus. 

I currently work two jobs on campus and find myself still learning how to juggle my jobs, academics, and extracurriculars. Balancing everything in my life can be challenging at times but it is definitely not impossible.  Both of my jobs are very flexible with my schedule and I especially enjoy working in the day at the Queer Resource Center because I get to interact with students who come into the center. Overall, I have found that most employers on campus are very understanding of our stressful academic lives as students and are willing to support us in any way they can. 

Now I am going to tell you how I actually found my jobs. As soon as the year started, I asked around to see where I can find job openings. My upperclassmen friends encouraged me to look out for job offerings on the Daily Mammoth. The Daily Mammoth is essentially an email that is sent out to the entire student body every week day at 8 am with information about upcoming events. The Daily Mammoth is frequently used by student organizations and resource centers to inform students about their events, but it is also used by on campus employers to present job opportunities. I made sure to check the Daily Mammoth frequently and I was fortunate enough to find both of my jobs there. In the beginning of the semester there is also a job fair so I would recommend looking out for that.

The last thing I want to mention is that working on campus is very common. There are student employees everywhere. To my knowledge, most jobs on campus pay Massachusetts minimum wage, $12.75 per hour, and every student gets paid biweekly. Hours depend on the job and jobs can range from very low commitment to very high commitment depending on how much time you are willing and able to put into working. Having jobs is necessary for my life and I am very grateful to have two jobs I enjoy and can fit into my busy life pretty well. 

If you have any more questions or concerns about getting a job on campus, or if you’re simply curious and would like to know more about what I actually do, feel free to email me!

What is the Fall going to look like?

The upcoming fall semester is filled with a lot of uncertainties. Covid-19 has greatly impacted all of our lives, and it will change the college tremendously. I am grateful to be going back to the place I have called home for the past year, but I am nervous that many of the reasons why I call Amherst my home will no longer exist because of all the restrictions. I completely understand that our health comes first, so I am grateful that I even have the opportunity to go back to campus even if that means having restrictions. 

The moments I cherished the most from being on campus were the weekend activities with my friends. This picture to the right is my friends and I at a build-a-bear night in the beginning of the year hosted by the students activities office.

build-a-bear night As a lot of activities next semester will be virtual, I am worried that I will not be able to build new connections with different people on campus like I did in many of these weekend activities. Even if some events are done with social distancing, I am still very happy to be able to see my friends again after not being able to be around them all of these months.


La Veracruzana Aside from the restrictions on campus, something that I am worried about missing out on is the surrounding town. I love the town of Amherst because it has some of my favorite restaurants. The two places I go to the most are La Veracruzana, a mexican restaurant, and Lime Red, a bubble tea teahouse. The college has not yet specified what the restrictions will be for using town, but I fear that we will be advised not to go into town for the health and safety of everyone on campus. 

I still have plenty of questions that have not been answered yet, but I appreciate the college’s effort to communicate with us and give us as much information they can given the current state of the country. Things like housing, employment, dining, and extracurriculars are constantly running through my mind, so I am eager to see how the fall semester will turn out. 

What’s it like being Latinx on campus?

Everyone’s experience will be different at Amherst College, but I hope I can shine some light on what it might be like for Latinx students on campus. As a latina myself, I have found plenty of ways to connect with my culture on campus and find people who understand where I’m coming from as well. Some of my dearest friends on campus are also latinx, and not only have I found comfort in them, I have also learned a lot about their own cultures as well. 

As I mentioned in another blog post, the Summer Bridge was my first real opportunity at meeting people who I could relate to. Lucky for me, there were way more latinx students there than I expected. A lot of my favorite memories from the Summer Bridge program were actually having random dance parties to mexican music that my new friends had introduced me to. I am Dominican so most of the people I hung out with before coming to Amherst were Dominican too. I had so much fun learning different things about my new friends while also being able to talk about tough topics with them because I knew they would understand me. I will forever be grateful for the support I received from them and the tutors from the program as well. I was afraid that I would have a tough time finding a community of people that would understand me and accept me for who I was but I quickly learned that I no longer had to be afraid.

The support from people on campus also extended to the student-led club called La Causa. La Causa meets in the Jose Marti room in the Keefe Campus Center every Thursday night. La Causa will host meetings about current events, things happening on campus, but most importantly topics that we want to talk about. This club really helped me navigate my experience on campus as a latina and I always appreciated the effort the club members made to make the space as safe and inclusive as possible. Second semester I had the opportunity to join the e-board of the club and led a meeting with a fellow e-board meeting about afrolatinidad. That meeting meant a lot to me because I have tried my hardest to advocate for black latinx people whenever I can, so I had a lot of fun leading that discussion for the night to get other people involved in the conversation. Intersectionality is crucial for social justice work, and I have realized that La Causa gives me the space to dive into issues that matter to me and really think about them critically with other students on campus. Aside from the more serious meetings, there are also some more laid back and fun meetings that La Causa hosts like cooking nights in Newport and game nights in the Jose Marti room. 

la casa Newport is where you will find the Spanish Language House and La Casa: Latinx Culture House. This upcoming year I will be living in the Spanish Language House because I am a spanish major so I am excited to start living around other students who chose to live there as well. The picture to the left is the mural in the basement of Newport and it’s one of my favorite parts of the building. I have gone to Newport so often this past year and I have met some really great people who lived there through La Causa meetings and other social events hosted in the dorm. 

 

If you have any other questions about what I mentioned above or are interested in knowing even more, please feel free to email me!

What's it like being away from home?

For a lot of people in the college, this is probably their first time living away from home. I actually went to boarding school for all four years of high school so I was already used to living in a dorm for quite some time. Upon arrival at Amherst, I expected most things to be very similar to boarding school. Most things actually weren’t the same, and I’m going to tell you why. 

First of all, my boarding school was a 45 min drive from my home so I went to visit my family pretty often. Now that I am a three hour drive away, it’s no longer as easy to get home. I usually take the Peter Pan bus back and forth to get to Boston because there is a stop right on campus, but I have to think twice before getting a bus ticket because they aren’t cheap. I figured that staying in Massachusetts would be fine because I could go home whenever I wanted. Reality was that I got much busier than I anticipated and only went home for the big holidays. I’m grateful to be closer to home than I had originally anticipated while doing my college search, but for me, this is still my first time being away from home for months at a time because I was so accustomed to going home every other weekend in high school. As a result, I got more homesick than I have ever been in my life and probably called my mom more times in a day than I would like to admit; however, homesickness is okay. No matter how independent I may have been before coming to Amherst, my body and my mind were feeling the drastic changes in my location and routine. Change can be exhilarating and fun, but when it wasn’t, I tried my best to lean into the people and resources at the college that I knew had my back and were willing to listen to me cry and rant. Having so many people that support me is also a big reason why I enjoy being at Amherst because the small size of the school makes me feel very safe and homey and around easily accessible people that genuinely care about me.

Second reason why college is different from my boarding school is that I have much more independence. Small things like buying my own groceries, toiletries, and bus tickets were a big wake up call for me. I didn’t realize how much I depended on my mom’s support until I got to college. Even though I still paid for my own stuff in high school, my mom would still be driving me to the mall, and giving me advice on what to buy or even showing my cute clothes I hadn’t seen yet. Obviously none of the things I have mentioned in this paragraph are huge monumental changes but they do make a big difference in my life because I make all of my decisions for myself now. College is teaching me self discipline and independence in ways I thought I had already learned before, and boy was a wrong. mom Don’t be fooled though, I still call my mom all the time for her advice on almost everything, but now I do it with much more appreciation than I have in the past; I am so grateful to have her love and support. I would encourage you to not only reach out to resources on campus but also to reach out to friends and family from home if you’re having a hard time in college. If you have any questions or concerns on what it’s like to live away from home, please don’t hesitate to send me an email.