• Hometown: Diamond Bar, California
  • Major: Computer science
  • Community Service Project: Installing solar panels during spring break

When it came to choosing a college, everyone Karena knew seemed to be looking at large universities—but she wanted something different. At Mills, Karena found an inclusive community and unique learning environment that helped her thrive both inside and outside of the classroom. Karena credits Mills with opening her eyes to the wider world.

What first drew you to Mills?
No one else I knew had experienced a small college before. Mills was something new and entirely different, and I wanted to try that out.

What do you think makes Mills a unique place?
The people make Mills so special. All my professors and coaches know my name and stop to talk with me whenever we see each other. And the students are so dedicated and passionate about what they are studying.  

What makes Mills stand out from other schools?
The Mills community is very academically forward. The location of the school, the individuals who attend Mills, and the environment—each is unique in its own way.

How would you describe the LGBTQ community at Mills?
The LGBTQ community is strong at Mills. Everyone supports you for who you are. The environment is very accepting, and people often attend events together. I have found solidarity with my friends and the people I have met at Mills.

What leadership roles have you taken on since coming to Mills?
I was an officer for The National Society of Leadership and Success and a member of the cross-country running team. These experiences helped me develop closer ties to my fellow students and gave me an opportunity to meet new people.

Have you worked on special projects outside the classroom?
Last spring break I participated in a community service project to fulfill one of my core curriculum requirements. I went with other Mills students to Willits, California, to learn about solar energy. I helped install solar panels on a community center and learned about solar energy-related projects.

How have you surprised yourself since arriving at Mills?
Mills has broadened my horizons, helping me open my eyes and become more aware of the world.