The University of Texas at Austin
School of Undergraduate Studies
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Melissa Kwan

Melissa Kwan
Major: 
Human Biology

Melissa was involved with the FIG program for two years. As a freshman, she was a FIG student in a Residential FIG and then became a FIG mentor.

FIG is important to me because it was what made my freshman year so unbelievable. It introduced me to so many of my friends and academic contacts that I have. I know that I can talk to my academic advisor and peer mentor from my freshman year about anything. I have also been able to see how my FIGlets have matured and grown over the past two semesters, and it’s an exciting thing to witness. I have also seen my FIGlets use the resources that I have introduced to them, and it has made their freshman experience all the more valuable.

How has it helped you or changed your life in any way?
The FIG Program opened up a wide variety of doors to me. From the moment I moved into Whitis Court, I knew that I would have access to some of the most interesting leaders and mentors available to me. I am still incredibly close friends with my peer mentor, as well as the mentors who lived in Whitis. I also met one of my best friends through my FIG. She and I have experienced some of the best and worst classes together, but we made it bearable for each other.

My mentor was a great role model, and continues to be one as well. He set an example of how you should study in college, and was helpful when I had academic questions. He also set an example on how you can also have fun in college and be involved in a variety of activities, as long as there is a balance.

Because of my first year experience, I decided to return to Whitis as a ResFIG mentor, and it has been amazing. I have gotten to see a new group of shy freshmen turn into outgoing personalities that are taking an active role in their campus community. They are active in their college councils, service organizations, and sororities. I can see my own growth in theirs, and that is something that I have been excited to pass on.

Living in Whitis definitely made the University a much smaller place, and more like a home. I never thought I would grow so close to a group of strangers than I have since I moved in two years ago. I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything.

Describe one of your most memorable FIG moments.

One of my favorite FIG moments has to be when we had an informal class on break dancing. We stacked the tables and chairs to the side of the room, and Brent showed us his moves… and then we tried them. To say the least, we were less than perfect, but it was a great way to relax and enjoy our afternoon.

Describe the program in one word and explain why you chose that word.

Bonds. FIG was the bond that brought the University and its resources to me. Without I’m sure I would have felt lost and quite alone. There was also the important bond between me and my mentor. He gave advice on registration, professors, and classes, as well as how to enjoy the entire college experience. There was also the bond between myself and my FIG. I met my best friend there, and made several other close friends in our weekly seminars. We were all going through similar experiences, and that was a time that we had to share them. As part of the Residential Program, I have been able to bond with the other students who live in my building. We all have different backgrounds but we come together to form a close knit family that the FIG program has catalyzed.

This year as a mentor, I have been able to form a bond with my FIG. I am excited to see each of my FIGlets outside of the classroom, if its walking down the street, checking their mail, or just hanging out. I have gotten to see them grow, change, and mature, and I am just glad I got to be a small part of that.