Valeria Araujo: Rethinking Her Future at Mills

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Mills College’s potential merger with Northeastern is giving some students hope the school won’t close, but for YR Media’s Valeria Araujo, the uncertainty is forcing them to rethink their future at Mills.

I just finished my first year at Mills College. It’s been a weird year to say the least. I started my college career learning completely online. And I made it work. But it wasn’t how I thought my first year would go — attending Zoom classes all day from my childhood bedroom.

So when the news broke in the spring about Mills closing, I felt so lost. Just like that, friends I just met started planning to transfer. Others looked to see if it was possible to finish an accelerated degree. We were all over the place.

My plan for college is now flipped upside down — along with many of the school’s first year students. My original plan was not only to graduate in four years with a bachelor’s degree in Politics, Economics, Policy and Law — but also complete my accelerated master’s degree in five.

The potential merger with Northeastern excites me because it may allow a pathway for me to achieve these goals. But it still feels like the uncertainty is playing with my feelings.

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Even though Mills College could stay open if negotiations work out, it won’t be the same. College students like me will be losing a safe space — a place of progress and inclusivity made specifically for women and non-binary students.

I came to Mills because I was looking for a college that my activism would thrive in. And even though it was hard making friends or seeing where I belonged on this “virtual campus,” I was finally finding my footing. And it feels like I’ve had the rug pulled from under me.

My future at Mills is still a bit unclear. I’ve already mapped out a pathway that’ll allow me to graduate spring 2023 — an entire year early. It’s not going to be easy taking on heavier course loads each semester. And there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to enroll in all the classes I need each year. But to me, it’s worth it if it means I can still graduate with a degree from Mills College.

With a Perspective, I’m Valeria Araujo.

Eighteen-year-old Valeria Araujo lives in Oakland. Her Perspective was produced by YR Media.