• Hometown: San Salvador, El Salvador
  • Major: Biochemistry
  • Outside the Classroom: Resident assistant for first-year students and community volunteer

Having attended an all-girls’ school in her native El Salvador before moving to Los Angeles, Damaris knew that a women’s college would give her the confidence, determination, and discipline to achieve her academic goals. A first-generation college student, Damaris credits support from Mills faculty and her classmates with enabling her to tackle leadership roles while maintaining a high GPA.

How have you changed since coming to Mills? I have learned the meaning of being a scholar and leader by setting high expectations for myself and by getting involved on campus. I have also gained the confidence and awareness I need to succeed and achieve my goals. More importantly, I have been empowered as a woman of color, immigrant, and first-generation college student.

What is your proudest achievement so far? My proudest achievement has been taking on leadership roles while maintaining a high GPA. For two years, I’ve served as a resident assistant for first-year students who live on campus. In addition, during my first two years at Mills, I was a health educator through Peer Health Exchange, an organization that trains college students to teach health education at public high schools in low-income areas of Oakland. Last year, I volunteered at the Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund during the summer, which allowed me to support the Latino immigrant community in the United States. I am currently looking to intern at a clinic or hospital since I would like to learn more about the health system and health professions and obtain clinical experience.

What’s the best part of living on campus? I love the fact that most of the rooms at Mills are singles, but still allow me to be part of amazing residential communities. It’s the perfect environment for me! I enjoy the sense of privacy I have in my room and the sense of community I experience during residence hall events and gatherings. Also, I love how each residence hall has a computer lab, a kitchen, and a recreation room.

What are your plans after graduation? My dream has always been to become a healthcare professional, and I plan on going to either medical or dental school after Mills. I think that these two professions are extremely noble, rewarding, and fascinating. But more important, I believe that by becoming a healthcare provider, I can help communities that have been denied access to primary care in the United States and other countries, such as my home country of El Salvador.