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Meet the Mentors

Our UPAL peer mentors are undergrads who understand the Northwestern academic landscape and are committed to helping other students navigate it successfully. Meet the team below.

Rebecca Ayiku

Rebecca Ayiku

Human Development & Psychological Services, Class of 2022

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student:  It may seem like most people have everything under control, but the truth of the matter is that we are all struggling in our own ways. It's important to remember that this journey is not a race nor a competition. Be patient, don't compare yourself to others, work at your own pace, and don't be afraid to ask for help. NU has so many amazing resources and resourceful individuals that want to aid in your success. You will get through this!

Favorite place to study: Fifth floor of Main Library.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: The people. I've met so many unique, talented, and amazing individuals who have made my time at this university so worthwhile. The campus/view is also so pretty and very relaxing when you need a mental break.

Best advice you've received:  My mom always says, "Do your best and leave the rest to God." In addition to that, I've learned that your best will look different each day, and that is okay as long as you keep striving to do YOUR best. 

Isabelle Chen

Isabelle Chen

Chemical Engineering, Class of 2023

What I wish I'd known as a first year: I wish I had known that I don't have to follow the path that I think I need to follow. It's important to explore new passions and to balance school and life.

Favorite place to study on campus: Mudd!

Favorite thing about Northwestern: I love the people here! 

Best advice you've received: It's always okay to change your mind as to what you want to do. It's okay to not know what to do.

Logan Fosu

Logan Fosu

Cognitive Sciences & International Relations, Class of 2024

What I wish I'd known as a first year: I wish I had known that struggling, especially at university and/or as you learn more about yourself in a new environment, is inevitable. School is not everything that you are or have to offer, although at times it may feel like it, so understanding that being a student is only a part of who you are as a whole would have definitely helped me as I struggled, both academically and personally, as a first year. Moreover, I wish I had known that you are never truly alone or the only person to experience certain feelings/struggles, so reaching out to others who are also struggling or relate to your struggles is absolutely essential.

Fun fact: I recently got ordained online, so I am technically allowed to perform wedding ceremonies!

Favorite thing about Northwestern: I love how busy NU is! There is always something going on or something to do, and I feel like that not only increases your chances of finding a new community to be a part of, but also helps me mitigate my academic pressures.

Best advice you've received: It's okay to not know what you want or what you are going to do, as long as you enjoy yourself and the person you become as you work to figure it out.

Brennan Jackson

Brennan Jackson

Undecided, Class of 2024

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: That at times being a first-year can be very challenging. All these challenges are opportunities to become a stronger person.

Favorite place to study on campus: I like studying in my dorm room. When I'm in my room, I have the ability to limit most distractions and get comfortable, which helps facilitate a good study session.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: There are a lot of fantastic things about Northwestern, but one of my favorite things is the campus. I love just taking walks around campus and seeing the lake and buildings. Also, I've had some great professors.

Best advice you've received: My father always reminds me to make sure that I enjoy what I do. I think keeping that in mind is very important.

Kabeer Kishore

Kabeer Kishore

Cognitive Science and Statistics, Class of 2023

What I wish I'd known as a first year:  That college is not going to be easy, that tough times will come, and that I am not alone in that experience.

Favorite Sweet/Savory Treat: Cheese Balls

Favorite thing about Northwestern: The people. The students, faculty, staff, are what make NU what it is.

Best advice you've received:  It's a Roald Dahl quote. "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

Shira Nash

Shira Nash

Sociology & International Studies, Class of 2023

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: I wish I had known as a first year that being yourself is truly enough. At a university like this, it is so easy to compare yourself to others and question your worth and value in comparison to your other esteemed classmates. This feeling of inadequacy might push you to try to be someone you are not or to overthink the little things, which is something I sometimes struggled with as a first year. I wish I could look back at little ol' me and tell her that you were enough then, and you are certainly enough now.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: My favorite thing about Northwestern seems to constantly change, but right now it is the campus. I did the entire school year remotely, so I have developed a new appreciate for how beautiful and unique or campus is. I can't wait to be back on the Lakefill again sitting on a picnic blanket curled up with a book.

Fun fact:  I have my own online blog! 

Best advice you’ve received: Even when others go low, you go high. 

Samantha Olson

Samantha Olson

Psychology and Business Institutions, Class of 2024

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: To place more focus on schoolwork and reach out to professors more.

Favorite Evanston restaurant:  La Cocinita

Favorite thing about Northwestern: The friends I've met

Best advice you’ve received: Don't drink too much coffee, or alcohol. 

Elise Pakiela

Elise Pakiela

Theater & Entrepreneurship, Class of 2024

What I wish I'd known as a first year:  When scheduling classes, reflect on your definition of a balanced course load. For instance, consider how much reading material each course distributes and how exams might conflict.

Favorite place to study on campus:  The Starbucks in Norris (Norbucks!)

Favorite show right now: The Good Fight

Best advice you've received: It is okay to take breaks; you do not always have to be working. 

Molly Pribble

Molly Pribble

Computer Science, Class of 2022

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: I wish I had known that it's okay too struggle and it's okay to ask for help.

Favorite restaurant in Evanston:  Colectivo, probably

Favorite TV series right now: Ted Lasso (highly recommend)

Best advice I've ever received: Be honest with yourself.

Brooklyn Sparkling

Brooklyn Sparkling

Civil Engineering McCormick, Class of 2022

What I wish I'd known as a first year: I wish I had known that office hours were a good resource to connect with both the professor as well as other students in the class. 

Favorite thing about Northwestern: My favorite thing about NU is the Lakefill. 

Favorite Evanston Restaurant: My favorite Evanston restaurant is Blind Faith Cafe.  

Best advice you've received: The best piece of advice I've received is to always be kind. 

Ana Velazquez

Ana Velazquez

Psychology, Class of 2024

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: Everyone seems to have their entire life planned out. It's an act. Everyone's figuring it out, just like you are :)

Favorite thing about Northwestern: I've never met so many interesting, smart, fun, and all-around incredible people. The students at NU definitely make the school so worthwhile.

Favorite show right now: Schitt's Creek 

Best advice you've received: If it's causing you harm and stress, it's not right for you. Find what makes you happy and prioritize your mental and emotional well-being.


Teddy Wongkar

Teddy Wongkar

Economics and International Studies, Class of 2023

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: Go to office hours and do not take hard courses that you do not need and are not interested in.

Favorite Evanston restaurant: Soban and Mumbai Indian Grill (can't pick between them!)

Favorite thing about Northwestern: The Lakefill!

Best advice you've received: Be yourself, know your goals, and know your limits.