Salma Bashir (she/her)
Class Year: 2021
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Extracurriculars: Club Rugby, Pre-Health Professions Club, Orchestra, Biology Teaching Assistant
Overseas study: East Africa, biology
What three words would you use to describe L&C?
Inclusive, versatile, enriching
What’s your favorite class? How has it expanded your knowledge?
Intro to Fiction Writing with Professor Pauls Toutonghi. I took the class because I’d forgotten about my love for writing since entering college, and I needed something to help me remember it. I learned that writing is not just about the technical aspects such as grammar and spelling, but also about how you frame dialogue, how you create imagery, how you evoke feeling. And these skills are applicable to more than just fiction writing; they matter in the sciences, in communications, in practically everything. I’ve also learned to be attentive to the world and the people around me, and to place worth in even seemingly trivial things. Even though biology is my academic focus, I’ve found so much value and love in writing through this class, and it is something I wish to take with me throughout my college career and after.
“I appreciate the liberal arts approach to education since I never feel limited in the kinds of knowledge I seek out.”
Who is your mentor on campus? Why do you consider this person your mentor?
Most of the people I consider mentors probably don’t know that I do. These people include Angela and Dom (who work in the IME office), the rugby coaches, and almost every one of my professors to date. Each of them offers such unique perspectives of the world and have taught me confidence and adaptability; I’ve learned how to apply their teachings to everything I do, academic or otherwise.
What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?
I live in the suburbs of Portland, so my family is always close, something I’m incredibly grateful for. I also appreciate the liberal arts approach to education, since I never feel limited in the kinds of knowledge I can seek out and accumulate.
If you have studied or will study overseas while at Lewis & Clark, how did you choose your program? What did your overseas study add to your L&C experience so far?
I will be in Tanzania this coming fall as a part of the biology intensive program, which I’m super excited about! I chose the program for how active it is (the outdoors and the safari are large components), and for the biology curriculum. I’m also super excited for the cultural and lingual exposure.
How did you get involved with the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement (IME)? What has your involvement with IME added to your L&C experience?
During my first year at L&C, I was a mentee in the LEAP program, which helped me so tremendously with the transition into college that I decided to become a mentor myself. My experiences in IME have led to incredible and enriching relationships with people I may never have met otherwise. I feel more capable and open-minded because of IME, and the sense of community is outstanding.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
You don’t have to know exactly what you’re doing at every moment, even if it feels like you do. Remember there are countless resources available to you at L&C, so if you end up here, don’t hesitate to reach out and use them.
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The Dovecote! It’s such a cute and cozy coffee shop, which is lovely for studying or getting other tasks done.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland?
The food! We have such a wide variety; you really can’t go wrong choosing a place to grab lunch or dinner with a friend, especially if it’s Thai.
How did you decide on a major?
I chose biology because the study of life is so largely fascinating and so applicable to almost everything. The major’s requirements are also closely aligned with the prerequisites I need for my chosen master’s program. But the nice thing about pre-health is that it doesn’t matter what major you choose, so long as you take the prerequisites you need, which allows for a really versatile undergraduate education if you so choose.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced at Lewis & Clark?
My graduating high school class was a whopping three people, including myself, so even though L&C is fairly small relative to other colleges, it’s a lot larger than what I was ever used to. Before college, I never had to actively seek out new relationships, because they’d existed already for me. It was overwhelming and sometimes terrifying, but I’ve met so many amazing and beautiful people that I never could have otherwise, and I’ve developed a better ability to reach out and communicate with those around me.
How do you manage stress?
Life is so busy with academics and social lives and other basic necessities like food and sleep. I think it’s easy to forget to breathe. But the most helpful thing I’ve discovered is to find something that’s solely for you; not for school, not for your friends or family, or for any kind of display. And then take 30 minutes of your day to just do that. For me, that’s writing (anything!—short stories, dialogue, or imagery) and drawing. These are the things I do that serve no practical purpose in my life, but which I love. But for you it could be anything—running, painting, learning a language, playing music. There’s an endless supply of activities at your disposal.
Where do you find community on campus?
Everywhere I look for it, but most in playing rugby, in the L&C orchestra, and in IME. Community can be anywhere, but you’ll find it easily, probably without even trying.
How has Lewis & Clark changed you?
I’m a more confident person now than I ever thought I could be. There are moments I can’t visualize success in my future and where I doubt what I am capable of, but I have learned that these thoughts are never true or honest. I’ve learned capability and adaptability, and how to invest time and energy into myself so that I can best help others.