Welcome to Williams, class of ’24! I’m Shiara and….
I am Haitian. I absolutely love my heritage and culture and try my best to hold on to my lineage especially on campus where I don’t have people to speak Haitian Creole with and where there’s no good Haitian food available. My Blackness is very important to me so I’ve joined a lot of clubs having to do with those identities. The club I felt the most comfortable in was Sisterhood and now that I am co-president, I am excited to continue to strengthen that community for Black women on campus. I am extremely family-oriented, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my little sister or my mother. My family and I are very close. In fact, in school, I made it a priority to call my mom every day even if it was for five minutes. In terms of my sister, I tried to read her a bedtime story or pray with her as much as I could so she still felt like I was still a part of her life no matter the distance. Once, I sent them a package of little gifts from Williams College so they knew I was thinking of them. Finally, I am a Christian. My relationship with God allows me to endure anything that comes my way. It’s a personal journey for me, but worshipping Him through music has brought me a lot of joy. Joining Gospel Choir has been one of the highlights of my Williams experience. My advice to the class of 2024 is to be fearless. None of us completely know who we are, but as you get glimpses, show it to the rest of the world. You will feel whole when you’re living your truth. Once you gain confidence and self-love, you’ll become unstoppable.
One very important lesson that I learned is that it is okay to be selfish. If there’s one time in your life you get to worry only about yourself, it’s college. This is not to say that empathy and generosity are not important, but I really struggle when I’m not constantly doing something for others. In fact, I put other people before my own needs all the time. I’ve had to learn that I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking care of or thinking about myself. If not in college, then when? I am never afraid to ask for help. I went through a whole phase where I thought being an Econ major was for me (deep down, I knew that was a lie). Econ 110 did not make sense to me at all. I went to office hours weekly, sometimes bi-weekly. The tutors at the Econ Resource Center knew me by name because I was always there. But even personally, whatever I am struggling with, I make sure to reach out to the people on campus that can help me. Williams has numerous resources created for you! Not using them is a complete waste. Always advocate for yourself because who else will? Lastly, when I did Summer Humanities and Social Sciences,I remember one night we were going to watch a movie and someone brought their schoolwork. One of our Residential Mentors gave this advice and I will never forget it– never mix schoolwork with your social life. Give yourself completely to one or the other, otherwise, you’re going to be frustrated. If you’re going to study or do your work, do it. If you’re going to have fun and spend time with your friends, do that. And do those things wholeheartedly; be in the moment.
The pandemic has made me more appreciative of my family and how blessed we are to have our health. When I’m on campus, I miss my family dearly so I’ve really just held them as tight as I can during this time because I know soon enough I have to return to Williams. But, there’s also a longing for the Purple Bubble, the education, my friends, even snar (late night dining on campus). One thing I learned is that I will never be satisfied, I will always long for the space in which I’m absent. Growing up is learning how to live with that tension. My advice for students that have to endure remote learning is to be gentle with yourself. Don’t expect that you’ll be as productive as you would be in an academic setting where learning is the highest priority. Some days, it’s okay to go to zoom meetings in your pajamas or turn your camera off. Finally, the faster you learn what works for you, the better. I really learned during quarantine that I am a night owl and that I produce my best work when most of the world is fast asleep. There are no distractions, and everything is quiet. Learn when you work best, learn about yourself, and use it to succeed.