“How did you get here?” is a rich and complex question. Asked in a tone of suspicion at, say, an airport or a store, it may feel like a challenge or even a threat: “You don’t look like you belong here. How and why are you here?” Asked over a cup of coffee in a friendly tone of voice, it will probably feel like an invitation: “Tell me more about yourself. What brought you to this place at this time doing what you are doing?”
My first gig at the University of Maryland was an assistantship to Dr. Thomas Holtz, who at the time was creating the Earth, Life and Time program—the precursor to College Park Scholars’ current Science and Global Change (SGC) program. In the 19 years since, I’ve taken on many other responsibilities, including the director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Geology.
But my job with Scholars remains by far my favorite.
Marlen Cruz has taken on many roles in her scant 20-some years. First-generation American. First-generation college student. And: a commuter student.
“My parents live five minutes away from campus. They were like, ‘There’s no way you’re living on campus,’” she relays, laughing.