Following Passion

Don’t forget we’re here to help if you need us #OMACares, Stay home safe!

Sophie an international student from Germany. She is an OMA Ambassador, is involved with participating in Club Tennis and the Manning Consulting Group. She is excited because by participating she has been able to work with groups who are so motived to thrive, be better and hands-on want to make make a positive impact somehow.

Achievements she is proud of so far is back in Germany she worked hard to intern for Porshe doings a research project. These were mostly about materials utilized that can affect the product costs and that is how she found her love for plastics engineering. She has always been passionate bout the environment and she tries to be conscious about the materials that are biodegradable and minimizing amounts of plastics on the packaging.

Sophie L. Hoelzel
Junior – Industrial Engineering

She wants to work in the future to create that is biodegradable and learn more about polymerization, how molding works and understand the processes of how they overlap to understand the problem and create something better in the future. That is also how she found herself in Umass Lowell working hard to be the best she can be at what she loves to do.

The challenge she is currently facings is adapting to the courses-work is a completely different country. In Europe, she would usually only have one major exam versus multiple thought the semester. So she struggled to find her groove and to decide when to do her assignments, time management and balance between classes and extra-curricular activities.

Student Advice:

  • “Don’t doubt yourself so much, and don’t lose yourself in anxiety about classes and things about the future. The most important thing is whatever you need to do, to break it down into smaller steps so the problem doesn’t seem so big”

Comment Below:

  • What is something scary you have gone through? and how did you overcome it?
  • Are you passionate about the environment?
  • What would be your dream internship?

Identity and Mental Health

Happy Spring Break!

Quick Reminder to be safe during travels because #OMACares!

This weeks student is Kristy, she stays involved mentoring local high school students, with the Cambodian Mutual Assistant Association. In school she is involved with Student Association of Chinese Americans. One of her biggest challenge is balancing life school and prioritizing self-care!

Growing up she had a pull and tug relationship with her identity as an Asian american. There was a part of her that felt conflicted with being too american or too Chinese, and couldn’t find her place among her peers. By connecting with her clubs on campus, she was able to find other students who face the similar struggle with their identities. Realizing that she wasn’t the only one trying to find her community and herself.

Kristy Louie
Sophomore- Business Administration Management and Information Technology

As a freshman she was interested in stepping outside of her comfort zone. Her current friends encouraged her to participate in clubs which. What motivated her to join was her passion for her culture and community. “In both worlds I felt I little misplaced, by joining my club I was able to express both my american identity and my Chinese identity “. She also found a place where she could talk about topics that are taboo with people which understood her.

“Mental health is not spoken of often in the Asian community because of the stigma. Things like crying in public or asking for mental health help, usually means your weak or complaining”. Recently she attended workshops about de-shaming mental health, and normalizing this conversations withing communities. She is happy she can continue to learn and help others along the way to be happy.

Student Advice:

  • “Find those people who have similar passions or similar struggles so you and your community can go through it together”
  • “Also don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, it is usually very hard to put yourself out there, but if you don’t put yourself out there then you wont be known. It makes it harder for you to make connections meet new people and make friends ”

Comment Below:

  • What do you guys think? Are you involved on campus?
  • Did it help you meet new people?
  • What kind of topics do you talk about with your friends?

Learning Self-Advocacy

Today we are talking about self-reliance and some accomplishments our students have learned through their experience in college. We want to celebrate what is important to you inside and outside of the classroom. Transitioning to the world of education can be scary sometimes but we are always here for you because #OMACares!

Fiona Bruce Baiden
Junior – Political Science, minoring in Graphic Design

Fiona is proud of learning to become more independent living on campus. As well as learning to step out of her comfort zone. She joined a club on campus and is participating in the clubs e-board. Taking the president role she had to learn quickly how to assert herself with other people, and stepping up into the leadership responsibilities. Doing this helped her step outside the box. Knowing that she had to navigate through college, as well as how her team depends on her taught her to be more assertive.

Deepshikha Ananthaswamy
Sophmore – Biology concentrated in Biotechnology

Deepshi, on the other hand, has learned to be more assertive and communicative with those around her. There have been many challenges she faces as an international student, mostly logistics such as paperwork and learning how things work. So how was she as a new international student able to learn to advocate for herself? And how did she process college culture shock? “It was really weird because I didn’t expect that, starting college was a bigger change than moving to the U.S.” Well, the most impactful lesson while in college was deciding to prioritize herself and her mental health over others. After not being as close to someone she knew for many years, she had to decide to spend her time supporting someone else or herself and her career. Taking a step back to analyze the situation which could become a toxic friendship. She chose instead, to prioritize on her goal to be the best she could in college and her mental health. Not being perfect, just herself. After this now she connects with other students to help them as well.

Student Tips –

Now that you have learned this, what advice would they give to your younger selves?

Deepshi – “Trust your intuition, know that you know what is best for you! Go after what you want and be confident in yourself and honest with yourself when you feel like things don’t feel right or like yourself. Try new things such as a club. If you wanna be assertive you gotta step outside of your comfort zone knowing you will be okay.”

Fiona – “Trust Yourself, and believe in what you are doing even if sometimes it is frustrating or difficult. Be positive even though it tough remains optimistic. Everything is a process and with time, you can overcome anything.”

  • What have you learned so far in college?
  • What’s something you want to work more on? (public speaking/ networking/etc.)

Comment Below your thoughts! See ya next time.

Transfer Experience

I remember sitting in chemistry lecture, confused out of my mind and unable to pay attention.

The words of the lecturer would fall on deaf ears, as concepts such as Pauli’s exclusion principle and torsional strain were explained, the material getting harder as the weeks went on.

Often, as transfer students we find ourselves lost in the middle of our college careers due to circumstances beyond our control. Thoughts like, “Did I choose the right major? Did I choose the right college?” or simple questions like, “Where is my advisor’s office located? Isn’t it too late for me to be questioning taking this class now?” can haunt our minds.

I’m glad to say, I’m not in that dark place anymore, or else I wouldn’t be writing this. My name is Rabia Haider and I am a junior majoring in Nutritional Science. I transferred in Fall of 2018 from community college and my transfer process was as most transfer students would describe it; confusing. I was registered for classes, but coming from a small community college, I had difficulty locating the UCAPS office to make my I.D. Little did I know that I needed to cross the bridge to actually find the big glass building that all the orientation leaders were talking about.

The campus can seem big and scary at first, especially when you go from a small college to a big public university. Being a transfer makes it worse because most students are already acclimated to the environment, and one can feel intimidated asking questions that most people already know the answer to. There are many differences when it comes to my previous college and being in university now, but for me, the biggest changes were navigating campus, feeling connected to the new place that was basically a second home, and keeping up with my classes.

I came to know that almost 50% of the student body is made up of transfer students, and often it can be challenging integrating into the environment but know that you’re not alone. By talking to other people and exploring my major, I met a solid group of friends that also went through the transfer process and we’re able to share that experience and how we grew from it.

As for any tips I might have for other incoming or current transfers, I’d say that no question is a bad question. You are your own biggest advocate and it might be intimidating at first to seek out help, but if you’re curious about something, ask the questions and you will find people with the answers. Second, I really do encourage connecting with the campus. I know that often transfer students are busy juggling two jobs, a family, or other commitments, but the connection to campus makes the college experience that much better. Don’t be afraid to go out, join a club, ask about any internship opportunities, or volunteer in the community. I promise you won’t regret it.

  • Is there any resource on-campus that you’d advocate for?
  • What advice do you have for incoming transfer students?

Let us know, comment below!


My name is Carla Ivon Gonzalez Hidalgo and I am the new Graduate Assistant at The Office of Multicultural Affairs. Fall of 2019 I finished my undergrad in Marketing and International Business. Throughout my college career, I had different challenges as a first-generation student, transfer student, low-income student, a Latina student, etc. This experiences are what inspired me to pursue my masters in higher education. I want to help students who are like me. As an undergrad student I always worked hard on my own thinking no one really understood what I was going through. With a strong mindset of “If I wanted things done right, I must do it myself”.

Because of this, it was really hard to make friends or talk to other students. I spent most of my time overworking myself instead of asking for help. I continually wonder If I had connected with more people from my background, would I have been more willing or comfortable to ask for help? After talking with some of my classroom peers, I realized that they also felt the same way. We all had in common the feeling or fear of not feeling understood in our daily lives. Now that I have graduated a piece of advice I would give my younger self would be to look out for those people that would help me as a student of a minority community. Another point as well is, don’t be not being afraid to ask others for help.

Representation defined by is “the act of representing or speaking on behalf of a person, group, business house, state, or the like by an agent, deputy, or representative”. To me, it means working with someone who is from or understands my background, language, slang, family dynamics, cultural expectations, etc. Which helps them help me.

  • Where are you from and what does representation mean to you?
  • Do you feel represented on campus?

Let us know, comment below!


Welcome to the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ Student Blog, OMATalks! A space for UMass Lowell students to share experiences and feedback on our campus-community and culture. Your voice matters!  

  • How can we come together as one community?
  • What has been your experience as an underrepresented student at UMass Lowell?
  • How can UMass Lowell better support your identity?

Share a little piece of your UMass Lowell experience with the OMA community! Connect with us through email at: if you have an idea for a blog post.


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Office of Multicultural Affairs official banner of the student blog reading "OMATalks" with pictures of student from various OMA events and clubs in the background as a collage.