Caroline Salim ’21 may be graduating a semester early, but she’s already left her mark on campus. This Captain of the Sailing Team, Senior Class Treasurer, and ResLife Community Advisor shared her fondest memories at Wesleyan with The Argus. From her love for the government major (and its professors) to going on hikes and playing Mario Kart with her friends, she emphasized how important it is to step out of your comfort zone and try new things.
The Argus: How was your last semester at Wesleyan?
Caroline Salim: It was good. It was crazy. I don’t know, it wasn’t what I pictured my last semester to be like at Wesleyan, but I don’t think I lost anything besides maybe bigger gatherings, but it was fun. It was awesome to live in a house. It was nice to have a house just to come home to and do work in and to cook. So although it was different, I don’t think I missed out on anything. It was still a great experience.
A: Could you tell us a little bit more about what you’re involved with on campus?
CS: Of course! I was a member of the sailing team, although we didn’t sail this semester. I worked as a Senior Class officer for the senior class and we were trying to plan a senior week. So that was fun to understand the background of how to plan senior week events and what the budget is. I was a treasurer for that, and then I also worked for ResLife. I was working as a Wood Frame CA [Community Advisor] so I would just help the Wood Frames build community.
A: What are your post-graduation plans?
CS: Right now, they’re very up in the air. I don’t know! I’m waiting for law schools to come back to me with a decision so that’s a part of it. And then I could possibly work at a nonprofit organization in Baltimore City, working with homeless people and trying to represent them in the legal world and get them jobs, and do criminal expungements for them as a volunteer, or I could be waitressing. So I don’t really know!
A: So you were a government major, can you tell us a little bit more about what that was like?
CS: I love being a gov major, I think all the gov professors are amazing! I always talk to everyone about them. I really had a great time being able to interact with different professors and yet make really close connections with professors while I was on campus. Professor Peck was my advisor since sophomore year, but I got to take his classes freshmen and sophomore year and he was great.
I worked closely with Professor Dancey as well. Junior year, Claire [Isenegger] and I made our own tutorial class with him and we based it on the 2019 municipal elections. So we got to do an exit poll and that was really cool to have that experience, to do my own independent research, but still get a full class credit for that. And having to work with Professor Dancey was a great opportunity because he was very well-versed in exit polling.
I really enjoyed working with and getting to know Professor Mark, she was really sweet and very helpful throughout the latter half of my government major life and she ended up actually writing a letter of recommendation for me for law school. I think all the professors are great. Those were just three of them that I really have connected with over the past couple of years, but I love the gov. major. I think the professors care more than they should about a lot of us and that’s awesome.
A: Do you have any favorite classes you’ve taken?
CS: I really liked Professor Trager and she taught Psychology and International Relations, and that was a really cool class. We learned about the psychology of making decisions and the psychology behind international politics. I don’t know if that’s still an option because she has moved to California, so that was a really awesome class. I really enjoyed my own tutorial class I took with Professor Dancey. That was fun because Claire [Isenegger] and I designed it ourselves. And then I really liked Psychology and the Law. That’s another really cool psych class that was fun. Professor Mark’s Judicial Decision Making class was really cool and interesting.
A: You mentioned that you’re going to law school, what sparked your interest in going to law school and being a lawyer?
CS: I’ve always had the idea of it, but I think when I got to my freshman and sophomore years, it kind of solidified when I was taking these gov. classes and taking Psychology and the Law. I took a civil liberties class with a visiting professor where we delved into Supreme Court cases and that’s always really interested me: how people defend these cases and the thought process behind what your rights are and how to protect your rights, and how you can use the law to protect people. Working for ResLife, I really like helping people and I feel like that’s interesting to have a different set of knowledge and skills to be able to help people in a different way. And I think it’s just interesting that the way that doctors can help medically, but there’s still a need for that legal help. And I just find the legal realm very interesting.
A: Switching gears a little bit, you said you are a member of the sailing team. What has that been like?
CS: That was probably my favorite extracurricular on campus. I joined as a freshman in my fall semester. I saw them post on Facebook and was like, “Oh, that seems cool.” And then me and my really good friend Sophie [Berko] walked past their table at the club fair freshman fall and we signed up. The team seemed very sweet and very encouraging. I was like, “I’ve never sailed before.” And they’re like, “That’s okay, just come and sail with us! You can learn, we’ll teach you!” And then since then, it’s been very, very welcoming. I have my closest friends from that team.
It’s fun to see how people learn to sail, I’m still learning to sail! It’s interesting that you can come to college without a skill and you can learn. I feel like I really wanted to take advantage of that when I came to Wesleyan and sailing was a great way to get off campus and go sail for like three hours, three days a week. And it was just interesting to meet people and to learn. It’s just a nice break from campus and from schoolwork. I ended up going to regattas at the end of my junior fall. I ended up being a captain. It’s funny because I’m not the best sailor, but that shows that anyone—if you have the passion and you have the drive to be a part of the team—there are openings for everyone to have a leadership position.
A: You also mentioned that you were one of the Senior Class Officers. What was it like to try and plan events during the pandemic?
CS: It was really hard. We actually had meetings all throughout the summer and this semester and basically, the Associate Director of Student Activities Shelissa Newball was like, “We don’t know what’s going to happen.” So we had to go in with the mindset of what can we do that’s safe, but also still fun. So we’re still in the process of brainstorming. Unfortunately, I can’t continue the position into the next semester so someone will have to take my position as Treasurer, but we had to talk to the WSA and the SBC about our budgeting. Right now, I think we’re looking at gifts just to be on the safe side, but I’m not too sure. I think we’re holding off until the University makes a decision about graduation and about what happens.
But it was fun to work with and talk to the senior class and send out Google Forms to get a feel of what people wanted. It’s a lot of pressure to make sure everyone’s happy, but it was still an amazing opportunity and I’m really grateful I had the opportunity to work with three other Wesleyan seniors that I knew vaguely, but this was a chance to get to know them more. It was a great time.
A: You talked about how you also work in ResLife, so what has your experience been like working for ResLife this semester compared to previous semesters?
CS: A lot different. I worked as a CA for High Rise as well, so for those events, we were given a budget to build community and you could just buy pizza, you could buy snacks, and you could say “Hey come down to the lounge, let’s all meet up, let’s talk” and we could all be in a confined space and hang out. Residents could meet each other and a CA could meet all of our residents, so it’s almost easier in that sense because we just needed to show up and hang out with people versus this year since we’re limited with everything going on. It has to be safe, so we had to really think about what was the safest option but still fun, and not just being like “Oh come to our zoom and meet us.”
So Keizo [Fish], my other CA, and I, we had to really think of different ways to get people and get seniors involved because I feel it’s hard to get upperclassmen involved in ResLife events. I feel like as a freshman, I attended my RA’s events because I wanted to meet people, so we had to really think. We went through outdoor yoga or outdoor karaoke but then that got too hard with limits and capacity for even Foss or a field. But we ended up just doing an Instagram page and just doing online contests and we were really surprised and we really loved all of the feedback and interaction we got. We went in thinking for a house tour we would get five submissions, but we got 15 and we got 200 votes, so it was really exciting to see everyone even in the senior class getting really involved in these ResLife contests and ResLife events, and building community.
A: Do you have any favorite memories from your time at Wesleyan?
CS: I feel like it’s hard to pinpoint a memory because I have memories with different people and they’re great in different ways. But I think any time just spending time with friends or doing stuff that’s not school-related whether it is just playing Mario Kart in our house or going on a hike around campus or going off-campus for a hike. Spring Fling was really awesome sophomore year, Wes Rave is always fun. I also really enjoyed working senior week my sophomore year, it was fun to stay on campus after everyone left and just work for Bon Appetit and get to interact with different alumni and see the seniors graduate.
A: What’s the biggest takeaway or lesson you’ve learnt during your time at Wesleyan?
CS: I think the biggest takeaway is just take advantage of what’s in front of you, to get involved in all the things you can get involved in because you can meet so many different people through so many different sectors of your life. Through ResLife, I’ve met so many different people who I wouldn’t have even become friends with just because they weren’t in my classes or in my major, so it would be hard to cross paths with them. Joining clubs is a great way to meet people, take advantage of doing research with your professor if you can. Go to office hours, there are so many opportunities on campus that can get you to interact and even network with professors and other students. Just really jump at anything you can. I jumped at sailing, I learned to sail while being a gov. major, they’re very different. As a Senior Class Officer, I was a write-in, so I didn’t even want to win, but I loved that I had the option to be elected and I was like “Why not?”
A: Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about applying to law school or are interested in law?
CS: Well I’m always a resource, I’ve talked to a lot of people already. But overall law school, you should do what you want to do, and you should apply to schools you want to apply to and you don’t owe it to anyone to share your scores or your GPA or what schools you’re applying to. Be mindful that it is your future and your future might look different than someone else’s and that’s okay, and that’s not something you should feel sad about or ashamed about because if it’s your future, what school you chose can affect where you work and how you work, what your focus is. So doing what you want to do is the biggest takeaway and being proud of yourself throughout the process no matter who else applying with you or who else is applying against you, and there’s no such thing as stealing spots in an admissions round. And to take the LSAT early and to study for the LSAT.
A: What’s one piece of advice you would give to your freshman self?
CS: Try new things and if you don’t like them, at least you tried them. Don’t just turn things away because you think you won’t like them. I wrote one article for the Argus and I was kind of iffy about it, but I was like “might as well try.” And I did it, and it wasn’t for me, but at least I tried. So you know, just try things.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Claire Isenegger can be reached at email@example.com
Sabrina Ladiwala can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org