Hello! I’m Erika Smith, now a senior in the Chemistry Department. After spending my freshman year in the School for Engineering and Applied Sciences, I decided to make the switch from chemical engineering to chemistry in order to better explore and understand chemical theory in general over chemical applications in particular. Also, I wanted to have evenmore freedom to explore my interest in the concept of identity, an interestthat has led me to courses in a number of departments, one of which has been the Program in Latin American Studies. Though I am not officially a part of the program, the courses I have taken within it have encouraged me to explore relationships such as that between the formation of gender identity and the development of gendered social roles or that between the construction of national identity and the creation of a nation. Subconsciously, the latter of these, i.e. the concept of identity as it applies at national levels, has even led me to a semester abroad in Catalonia with the Consortium for Advanced Studies in Barcelona. Though politically an autonomous community of Spain, within Catalonia there is very much a sense of un-belongingness, if you will, with the rest of the country, a sense that arguably stems from these issues of identity.
Despite the incredibly deceptive seamlessness of my own academic path, I felt just as uncertain about my future academic and career plans at the start of my time at Princeton as some of you do now, but having been there myself, I would be more than willing to help you navigate through your first semesters here. The whole experience can be scary and exciting and confusing all at the same time, but with the variety of advisors and counselors available to help you along the way, it could also be one of the most memorable.