FLI Stories

Julie Reiser

Senior Lecturer, Center for Leadership Education

What skills and experiences have you drawn upon to help you in college? Also, what has been your greatest challenge and success thus far?

“Coming from a non-academic family, I often had to figure things out on my own. No one had ever heard of the PSAT or SAT or AP or FAFSA. Because of this, I had to dig down deep inside myself and make things happen. I think this gave me a certain resilience that some of my friends–ones with trust funds or professor parents–didn’t have to cultivate in themselves.”

Your advice for Johns Hopkins FLI students.

“The biggest piece of advice I have to offer is this: make it a priority to talk to your professors on a regular basis. Get to know them and help them get to know you by attending office hours on a regular basis. If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Also, don’t pretend to know something just because you think you should know it or because everyone else around you seems to have been born understanding it. Asking questions signifies your interest in something, and most professors love to help and feel helpful. That’s why we are here!”


Alanna W. Shanahan

Vice Provost for Student Affairs

What personal strengths did you rely upon to help you in college?

“I’m a scrapper, grinder. Always have been. A fighter, resilient, never let people tell me I couldn’t do something. Never really cared what others thought about me – except my family. While not highly educated watched my parents work their tails off to ensure I had educational opportunities. Lived through several family illnesses and passings that help me appreciate life and keep me focused on the positive and what we can control – our reactions to events.”

Advice for Johns Hopkins FLI Students?

“You deserve this opportunity. Embrace it, you will find many successes but also appreciate that failure is part of growth. :).”


Calvin Wise

Director of Recruitment, Undergraduate Admissions

Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up and what is your family history? How did you end up in college?

“I am born, raised, educated, and employed all in Maryland. My parents are from Northwest Baltimore where my grandparents still reside. I am a first generation college student; however, I grew up in an household that valued education. College was the expectation. Athletics dictated my college search playing Division III basketball at St. Mary’s College of MD.”

Your Advice for Johns Hopkins FLI students.

“You belong. Being extremely involved in our selection process, it’s really hard to hear FLI students question their acceptance. They earned their spot at JHU just as much as any other student on our campus.”


Andrea Wiseman

Assistant Director of Life Design: First Year Whiting

When did you realize you were a FLI student? How did it affect you (if at all)?

“I didn’t really realize until after graduate school when FLI was a term used more often. But, looking back, parts of navigating college would have been much easier had I known certain resources and processes (i.e. financial aid, work study, academic advising) as well as how to prepare for post-college options.”

Your advice for Johns Hopkins FLI students?

“Use your resources whether it’s financial aid, disability services, academic advising, diversity/affinity groups/departments, faculty, staff, advisors, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because navigating college is not intuitive and it’s not meant to be something you do without the help, support, guidance of others.”

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