Geena Márquez

Graduate ’10
Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Geena received her degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences (Course 9) in 2010.

Tell me about your first encounter with the MIT OME Office?
It was the summer of 2006. I had just graduated from high school and arrived a few days after the start of Project Interphase (currently the Interphase Program). As a nervous, incoming freshman, I was not sure what to expect once I walked into the OME. My nerves were immediately put at ease as I was welcomed with a bright smile from the administrative assistant.  As my papers were put in order, I was immediately given a notepad and pencil, and was walked to my first class. I have the OME to thank for preparing me from the first moment I stepped into their office.

What were your initial impressions?
As the summer of 2006 came to a close, I started to connect with Dean Karina Vielma, Gail-Lenora Staton and Sandy Gonzalez. Through them, I believed the OME was a place where students could go to seek friendship, comfort, and emotional support from individuals who shared similar experiences. Their wisdom was passed on through their time in the OME. They made the OME feel like HOME.

Did those impressions change over time?
My impressions of the OME changed as the direction of the office changed. Although the office continues to focus on the emotional success of underrepresented students through the MAP (Mentor Advocate Partnership) program, they have expanded their mission and overall goal to ensure the academic and future professional success of its students. With TGIF, Social Hours, and Information Session — in which company representatives come and speak to the undergraduates regarding internship opportunities — students are given one-on-one face time with the individuals who may help them along their future journey.  Seminar XL, Interphase, and Momentum are all programs that provide students with the necessary tools and experiences needed to ensure their pre- and post-graduation success.

What programs did you take part in, and how were they helpful?
I participated in Interphase, Seminar XL, Second Summer (Momentum) and MAP.  

Interphase helped me prepare for being a student at MIT.  I developed close relationships with my peers that continued to strengthen every year, as well as with the OME staff. I was introduced to many different resources on campus, and to other Deans and administrators who shared the ultimate goal of ensuring the development and maturation of the incoming class.

Seminar XL taught me how to effectively work in groups while enhancing my problem solving skills. Through each session, I was able clarify concepts that were unclear to me, as well as apply them to problems geared toward solidifying my understanding.

Through the Second Summer program, I worked on a team to create crutches that were able to fold in half to save space and ease handling when traveling. I learned what it meant to work on a team and to contribute to a product that was both useful and convenient. At the completion of the program, my team and I presented our work to company representatives as well as the OME staff. Though this program, I was able to obtain my first summer internship at Xerox at the conclusion of my freshman year.

MAP was developed during the spring of 2007 as more students came to the OME to seek emotional support. This program enabled to me to make lasting connections with Dean Vielma and Dean Staton, both of whom gave me the foundation needed to see me through to my graduation in 2010.

What was your most memorable or valuable experience with OME?
While there are too many to choose from, the one that comes to mind occurred on a very sunny June 4, 2010 — the day I graduated from MIT. The OME staff, both past and present, celebrated my achievement with me. Seeing their expressions of joy and pride as they shared the moment with my family (as well as the families of other students) made the day even more special. They are a part of the success of many students across every graduating year. This is what makes the OME special.

If you had to describe OME with one word, what would it be?
Dynamic. The OME staff wears many different hats. They are counselors, event planners, academic advisors, mentors, leaders, fitness gurus, and food experts.  It is for all these reasons that many students consider the OME as their home away from home.
What would you want others to know about the OME?
The OME is a place where students can go to seek refuge and solitude (as well as occasional free food and candy during finals) from the hustle and bustle of MIT. It is an office to be respected and appreciated, as their generosity, humility, and compassion for students cannot be found in the same capacity elsewhere on campus. It is my hope that current and future students take care of the office that has helped so many students, like me, to not only graduate, but to leave MIT feeling as though they have learned more about themselves. I also hope they will aim to provide someone else with the guidance, resources, and laughter that the OME provided to them during their time at the ’Tute.