Photo: Kristen Pena

Kristen Peña

Graduate ’21
Mechanical Engineering

Kristen is a senior in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. (Graduated in June 2012)

Tell me about your first encounter with MIT's OME Office?
During my campus preview weekend, a group of freshmen living in the hall that hosted me gave me a tour of the campus. The OME was one of the first places they showed me, claiming that the office was an open and friendly environment—and it was. As soon as I walked in, I was shaking hands with MIT administrators who treated me as if they already knew who I was, and I knew that I would be visiting that office again in the future.

What were your initial impressions?
From the moment that I stepped into the office, I was very comfortable. Everyone in the OME seemed approachable and eager to speak with any student who walked through their door. Every staff member gave me the impression that I mattered, and that they would be there to help me through the crazy journey that is MIT.

Did those impressions change over time?
Not at all; the atmosphere is just as friendly from one visit to the next.

What programs did you take part in, and how were they helpful?
Well this is a long list.... I started with Interphase, a program that I can thank for many of the connections I still have at MIT today. Interphase helped me transition to MIT, especially by growing accustomed to the campus and the MIT lifestyle, and networking with peers, staff, and instructors. In addition, I participated in the OME Student Advisory Council for two years as president of MIT’s Mujeres Latinas; this served as an opportunity to seek advice from OME staff about our organizations, as well as give the OME feedback about their own events. Finally, I am a member of the Laureates and Leaders program, which has really helped me stay on track with the application process for graduate school, from taking the GREs to approaching faculty mentors. Oh and of course, there's the occasional TGIF.

What was your most memorable or valuable experience with OME?
I was not at MIT for the fall of my junior year in order to be at home with my family during a difficult time. One day, I opened the front door of my house and found a fruit basket with a card from the OME simply saying  I was in their thoughts and prayers. The most memorable moment I have with the OME did not occur in their office or at a program’s event, but rather in the moment when I read that card and realized even though I wasn’t at MIT, the OME was still there to help me.

If you had to describe OME with one word, what would it be?
Thoughtful. The OME is constantly asking for feedback from students about their programs and always evolving to better fit our needs.

What would you want others to know about OME?
Many MIT offices may seem intimidating at first, but the OME is really a friendly, open environment that welcomes any student. All OME staff members want you to take advantage of the many programs they have to offer and will do everything that they can to meet the needs of their students.