Skip to main content

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.

Amanda Bernett

Amanda Bernett

Biology and Dance, Class of 2020

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: That no matter how lost you feel, there are so many resources to help you.  A big one I have learned to take great advantage of are TAs. They are often extremely helpful and knowledgeable and very understanding of the struggles of student life. 

My biggest academic challenge: Finding time to explore the fields of my courses past the required readings, assignments, and general coursework.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: The array of skill, knowledge, and talent among our incredibly humble and united student body.   

Favorite restaurant in Evanston: FLAT TOP!! Nothing beats their Roti Bread.

Lauren Chrisman

Lauren Chrisman

Neuroscience, Class of 2020

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: That reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness. In fact, I would argue it’s a sign of strength!

My biggest academic challenge: Adjusting to the rapid pace of the quarter system.

Favorite place to study on campus: The fourth floor stacks in Main!

Favorite sweet treat: Chocolate ice cream (preferably with whipped cream)

Maya Daiter

Maya Daiter

German, Class of 2020

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: Get help early if you notice you’re not doing as well as you like. I learned the hard way that the quarter system moves super quickly, and it waits for no one! In addition, professors are a great resource and tend to be super receptive and eager to help you!

My biggest academic challenge: Taking two STEM courses with labs during a quarter in which I was going through a few stressful personal issues.

Favorite place to study on campus: Main Library, 4N Tower. Hands down!

Favorite tv series right now: Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Black Mirror

Elise Forst

Elise Forst

Biology, Class of 2021

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: Don’t feel pressured to know your major right away, and make sure to call your parents/people who love you.

My biggest academic challenge: Not procrastinating on homework/studying.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: All the free food given out on the daily.

Fun fact: I have 10 pet chickens, and I also have owned/rescued 15 parrots.

Favorite sweet treat: Watermelon sour patch

Meera Ganesh

Meera Ganesh

Global Health, Class of 2021

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: I wish I had known that in college there is really a niche for everything. If there is something that you'd really like to try or become involved in, there is a club or group of people who are likely interested in the same thing. There is never any pressure to do things just because you feel like other people are doing them. 

My biggest academic challenge: Sometimes I would feel like I had studied all I could for a class, but the results didn't reflect the effort I had put in. This can be frustrating at times when you are so accustomed to success in high school. It was an eye-opening experience for me; I’ve learned that sometimes it’s not worth stressing over the grade if you are still learning and growing as a person.

Favorite place to study on campus: In Core (Library 2 North) during the day, because the view of the lake is beautiful.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received: Stay Humble, Hustle Hard

Klaudia Konieczny

Klaudia Konieczny

Psychology, Class of 2020

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: I wish that I had been more aware of all the tutoring options that Northwestern provides its students.

My biggest academic challenge: So far, my biggest challenge has been changing the studying habits that I had developed during high school to meet the demands of coursework in college.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: My favorite thing about Northwestern are the diverse students that go to this school. There's a wide range of personalities that makes it easy for you to find friends that will remain by your side.

Favorite TV series right now: All time favorite is Parks and Rec

Emmanuel Ogunlana

Emmanuel Ogunlana

Neuroscience, Class of 2021

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: You don’t have to be afraid of talking to your professors. A great majority of them are actually really nice and want to help you succeed.

My biggest academic challenge: Organic chemistry

Favorite thing about Northwestern: The Lakefill. Such a great place to unwind, especially at the end of the school year when it gets really nice outside.

Best piece of advice I’ve ever received: No matter what, always be the hardest working person in the room. And don’t be afraid to be the hardest player, too.

Shane Persaud

Shane Persaud

Economics, Class of 2022

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: I wish I had known that I didn’t have to have life figured out in my first year. I was so worried because I didn’t have a major in mind, didn’t know what career path I wanted to take, and didn’t know what I wanted from life. And that’s OK. Very few (if any) people at NU have it all figured out. The purpose of going to a school like NU is to learn all of the above.

My biggest academic challenge: Learning how to study was a big challenge for me. While studying the night before may have worked in high school, I quickly learned that it wasn’t going to cut it at NU. Also dealing with the frequency of tests at NU has been a challenge for me during my first year.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: One of the benefits of going to a world-class university is that there are so many opportunities, and you should take advantage of them. For example, if you want to do research, NU will fund you. There are also so many mentors on campus that can give academic and personal advice.

Fun fact: I was born in New York, but I spent the first seven years of my life in Guyana.

Imani Sumbi

Imani Sumbi

Journalism, Class of 2022

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: Don’t feel like you have to try everything at once. There may be a million things you want to do at Northwestern and not enough time to do them all in your first year. Take your time, take on only what you can handle, and don’t worry about missing out.

My biggest academic challenge: I am both a slow reader and a frequent procrastinator, which, as you can imagine, is a dangerous combination.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: You can find so many hidden gems on campus if you know where to look for them.

Fun fact: My name means “faith” in Swahili.

Rafael Torres

Rafael Torres

Biology, Class of 2022

What I wish I’d known as a first-year: What is science GPA and was is not. Also, take it easy and have fun. It’s easy to get overheated in work mode.

My biggest academic challenge: Gen Chem. I learned not to take it lightly. Also, keeping it going throughout the quarter is very hard. I recommend taking breaks on SOME weekends but not slacking.

Favorite place to study on campus: Mudd conference room or CORE (Main Library, 2N Tower)

Favorite TV series right now: Currently rewatching West Wing so that. If not, My Hero Academia (Anime).

Yi Qiao

Yi Qiao

Computer Science, Class of 2020

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: For tests, do all the offered practice exams. It really saves lives.

My biggest academic challenge: Laziness and prioritizing, especially when it comes to reading and long homework assignments. I always put things off if they’re not due or quizzed on the next day, and before you know it everything piles up into one giant unmanageable ball of stress. Gradually I’ve been forcing myself to practice good time-management habits so that even if I’m feeling unmotivated, I will automatically start working out of habit.

Favorite place to study on campus: In the lounge area of my dorm or in my room

Favorite restaurant in Evanston: Tapas Barcelona or Mt. Everest

Robert Wang

Robert Wang

Sociology, Class of 2021

What I wish I'd known as a first-year student: A guideline to American cultural references.

My biggest academic challenge: Not being able to comprehend domestic students’ jokes because of my foreign identity, and undermining my own writing because English is not my first language.

Favorite thing about Northwestern: Support from my fellow Wildcats.

Favorite restaurant in Evanston:  The Brothers K CoffeeHouse (literally the best latte)