Get to know Becca, one of Access Opportunity's Student Ambassadors for the 2022-23 school year.
Becca is a junior at Brown University studying International and Public Affairs and Economics. She is a member of the Access Opportunity Class of 2024. Throughout the year, we will get to know her better through her stories, experiences, and advice for her fellow AO students.
In Her Own Words
My name is Becca Erdenebulgan and I am a junior at Brown University.
I lived in Australia for 2 years, Mongolia for 8 years and then America for 4 years. Living in different countries has molded me into a multifaceted person who has many different types of interests and hobbies. I am passionate about writing whether it is poetry or collaboratively writing plays with others on my campus. I love being a leader whether it is planning dances and concerts in student government or directing films and plays.
Living in different countries broadened my perspective and made me realize how different politics and policies shape regular people's livelihoods and happiness. This made me want to pursue policy and I am involved with policy groups on campus such as Brown Initiative for Policy. I am on the policy track of my first major, International and Public Affairs.
From working at a nonprofit called TechNation since high school, I quickly realized how policy outcomes and social impact is impossible without the finance to back it up. Which is why I am double concentrating in International and Public Affairs and Economics. I love studying how finance can achieve policy outcomes and positive social impact. I am exploring my different career avenues as I pave a unique trajectory for myself, but I know I would like to work in making a difference through finance.
AO: This past year we have all been able to come together much more in-person and start to experience school and life in this new phase of the pandemic. We have been working hard and that is cause for celebration! Is there a highlight or accomplishment from the past year that made you feel proud?
Becca: I just completed an internship in DC through my university's Brown in Washington program and it was an amazing experience! I met so many incredible people who are also doing internships and was able to forge close friendships with many of them through the intern house my school set us up with. I was living with interns who were involved in one of the most important work for our country in Congress, and other organizations in DC. I was able to also network alumni from a variety of fields and learn about different career paths. I visited many museums, rallies, and parades. I was even able to attend a Youth Summit hosted by APIA Vote, learning about Asian American political participation. I was proud that all my past hard work and accomplishments snowballed into this great summer opportunity.
AO: While the past year has been rejuvenating in many ways, it has also been hard and tiring in other ways. How are you doing? Is there a time you experienced hardship in the past year and what helped you manage it or overcome it?
Becca: During my summer in DC, there were many times I felt Imposter Syndrome where I felt less competent than my peers. Many of the other interns were doing exciting things such as working in Congress or big firms and attending high profile events.
However, my internship experience felt less fulfilling as it was remote and we mostly chose our own projects. Because I was not able to secure other more high achieving internships, even after I interviewed with many places, it made me feel like I was wasting my summer and not getting enough career experience and skills as my peers. I felt as if I was falling behind in my career and I always felt like I was not working hard enough or doing enough all summer.
What really helped me when I felt this way was expressing this to my other peers who told me they also felt the same and I was able to see I was not alone. Knowing others are feeling the same despite my view that they were doing better than me, made me feel like I was being too hard on myself. Looking back, I got the internship because I was able to enter the highly competitive Brown in Washington program due to all my hard work to get accepted into Brown which was made possible by being selected by Access Opportunity. In conclusion, I was able to get through feelings of incompetence by voicing it to a community who supported me.
AO: How did you feel when you first found out that you got accepted into your college?
Becca: When I first got accepted into Brown, I felt like I was finally validated at the highest possible level. After I moved to the U.S. in 9th grade, for most of high school, I felt like I was never doing enough or like I would never catch up to students who were designated for good colleges. Students who went to private high schools or students who were prodigies in music or math. I never felt special enough to be able to go to an Ivy League college, and being accepted to my college made me feel validated that I was smart enough, special enough.When my parents moved to this country, they left everything behind. Their friends, their family, and their careers.
Being accepted to Brown felt like my parent's sacrifices as immigrants were worth something and all my family's struggles were worth it.
When I finally started college, it felt like my life finally started. My own life that I was in control of where I was free to explore the things I wanted to do, not because it looked good on a college application but because I wanted to do them. Going to college has been one of my best experiences in life so far and I am so thankful for all the opportunities and resources that got me to where I am.
AO: What have you experienced as a first-gen or underrepresented student? What advice would you give to other students in a similar situation?
Becca: One of the main challenges I faced as a first-gen/underrepresented student is not being aware of the resources available, not being aware of the work I had to be doing or the expectations around me. Students who grew up surrounded by the culture of higher education were more aware of prestigious fellowships or internships and already knew about the culture and work required to get them. Finding out about industries or opportunities too late led me to feel like I was behind my peers in career and in life. To prevent these, I would advise students to frequent your school's career offices, minority student associations and make use of your university's resources as much as possible.
Other struggles I faced as an underrepresented student are walking into rooms, clubs or social events and feeling not in place because I am the only woman or person of color in the room. When I was the only person of color in the room, I always felt like I didn't fit in, like a transplant from the outside and I earned the right to be there in some lucky lottery. During these situations, I would advise others to be aware that you are the only person in the room not because you are not worthy to be there but because others have not been awarded the same opportunities as you have been and people like you have been systematically prevented from entering these rooms. Once you realize that not only you but many more of you deserve the rights to be in that room as much as anyone else, you will be less intimidated by others and feel less Imposter Syndrome.
Stay tuned for more of Becca's stories throughout the year!