The first thing you cannot help but notice about Alejandra Moran ’17 is that infectious smile of hers. Since she is one of the three girls in my entry, the notorious Mills 2, I’ve gotten to know her quite well and can safely say that she is also one of the hardest working people I have met. From her recent naturalization to her involvement in the Mountain Day Adventure Race, Moran never fails to impress with her perseverance, always bearing that smile on her face. On Sunday, Molly and I sat down with the beaming first year to talk about her life and her time at Williams.
Where are you from, Alejandra?
I’m originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, but then my family moved to New Mexico. Before I was even born, one of my aunts decided she wanted to get papers for my family. After 12 years, we heard back from them, and I didn’t even know we had applied to become residents, so I was really excited. In 2005, we went to a meeting to see if we could be residents. I was really frustrated because I couldn’t even go in, I had to stay outside, it was over 100 degrees, it was eight hours of waiting, and I kept seeing people coming out of the embassy with rejections. And they finally came out after eight hours and they got the residency cards. My mom decided to wait another year to finally move to the States so we could sell everything and get into the idea that we weren’t going to live in Mexico anymore. I was really excited – my mom wasn’t as excited, but she knew she wanted to do it for my sister and me. She couldn’t afford an education in Mexico and she knew that here my sister and I could work hard and all of our hard work could be paid off with scholarships. When we moved here that’s what my sister and I did, that’s what we focused on. And then in 2006 we moved to New Mexico, and I started school the day after.
How was the transition to English-speaking schools?
It was really difficult because I didn’t know English. It was very difficult the first semester because I always wanted to understand what was going on. And then, second semester I started understanding a lot more, so it got a little better.
But you were recently naturalized, I hear, over Winter Study! Congratulations!
It was really cool! My sister and I were supposed to do it together, but it took longer than expected, so I came to Massachusetts and I had to do it all by myself here. The College was really supportive about everything. They provided transportation when I went to Albany to get all the biometrics, so fingerprints and pictures, and I went to Lawrence for the citizenship tests. It hadn’t hit me that it was such a big thing in my life, but once I finished my test and they told me I passed, I became extremely happy. Even though I didn’t have someone at the time to celebrate with me, when I got back, my entry had a little celebration for me at snacks, so that was really cool.
How was the test itself? Was it very difficult?
They give you a study guide of 100 questions and they’re only going to ask you ten. It’s not really hard, and if you answer six in a row right they stop. It’s about the Constitution, the laws… It was pretty much memorizing for me. After that you have to go to the Oath Ceremony to finalize everything. They said it would last three to five hours but it only lasted one and a half. My entry was going to attend, until I found that out. I was like, “Why is this going to take so long? I don’t understand.”
And how did you eventually hear about the College ?
Actually, Williams found me. I was part of QuestBridge, a program for low-income high-achieving students and Williams is a partner college for QuestBridge, so they emailed me asking me to apply to Windows on Williams to visit and they would pay for everything so I was like okay, I guess I’ll go. And then I came and I really loved the campus and the people.
I’ve heard that you also walked on to the track team! Had you ever done track before or was this new?
I did it in high school as a thrower, and I wasn’t planning on doing the sport in college. I had no intentions of doing it, but then I got here and for some reason I was like oh, track. My JA introduced me to the coaches and I started lifting with them and I really liked the dynamics of the team so I decided to stay. I’m doing hammer, javelin and discus.
Looking back, are you glad you took that chance?
At the beginning it was kind of out of impulse that I did it. After I met with the coaches, I was like okay, I’ll give it a try. And I started lifting with the seniors, whom I love. They’re the best. Amina [Avril ’14]’s kind of a role model for me. When I lift with her she always talks to me and cheers me up, so she’s been one of the reasons I stuck with it, too. I was second-guessing myself about staying with the track team because I wanted to do volleyball, but all the throwers are so
much fun, we’re either singing or we’re dancing or cheering each other up. That’s probably the best part.
Tell me a little about your entry experience. You are one of three girls in a 14-person entry. How is it living with a bunch of guys?
I really like it! I never grew up with brothers and it’s really fun to just hang out with the guys sometimes. They play a lot of video games. There’s a lot of testosterone going on. [Laughs.] They’re very aware, though, and they’re very understanding that there are girls here too.
What is one of the funniest experiences you’ve had as one of the girls?
During the first weeks of school we were playing lap tag outside. In lap tag, you have an outer circle and an inner circle, and each person is paired up in laps with a person behind you and a person in front of you. The person in the front has to fight to get to the next person and the person behind you has to fight to hold you back, like in any way possible. We had shirts torn. And then Audrey [Thomas ’17], she totally nailed this one guy in our entry to the ground. We were thinking of doing that during the winter, but no one really wanted to do that in the snow.
After graduation do you think you will move back?
Definitely not to Mexico, but probably New Mexico. I want to maybe work in the Albuquerque hospital hopefully. I want to go back to my home and be a doctor. I actually want to be a forensic pathologist, so doing autopsies. I went to summer programs in Albuquerque so we went to the laboratories where they have all the corpses and I really liked it. For some odd reason I’ve always liked that idea, I know it sounds really creepy. I don’t know, it’s so interesting. And it’s never a dying field. [Laughs.]
Best experiences so far at the College?
Oh my gosh, Mountain Day. I was part of the Adventure Team, with my entrymates. I don’t think we had an idea of what we were getting ourselves into. Our team was “Safety First!” We had Hello Kitty knee pads, elbow pads, and floaties, which helped for the obstacle course. We also had to chug a gallon of apple cider before we got to the top. We were all tied by the wrist and carrying a pretty big inflatable animal. And we had to run up the mountain, under sticks, over sticks, over streams, on each other’s backs. And then when we got to the top we had to eat four donuts each. I’m glad we saved some apple cider for the top to wash down the donuts. I think the best part was that it was something I wanted to do at my time at Williams. It’s part of the tradition so it’s not enjoyable while you’re doing it, but looking back, I’m really glad I did it. But I probably wouldn’t do it again, even though we say we’re training for next year.
To nominate someone for One in 2000, email Molly Bodurtha at mib1 or Zoe Harvan at zeh1 briefly explaining why you think he or she should be featured.