by Tanielma Costa, Class of 2020

F or Alumna Beatrice “Bea” Kariuki, life is all about doing things you love to the fullest. She lives by this principle every day, and her college experience was no exception.

As a Kenyan immigrant who moved to the U.S. in 2011 during ninth grade, Bea had to quickly adjust to South Louisiana culture and a new school in Broadmoor High. She says that, from the beginning, she was determined to reach her dreams of college and understood the privilege she was given to study in the U.S. Most daunting for Bea was how uninformed she was about the American postsecondary education system. That’s where BRYC came in. “I had an idea of the things I wanted to do and where I wanted to be,” Bea said, “but BRYC was that catalyst I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone. BRYC took that fear of not knowing what’s coming, and I’m very grateful for that.”

On BRYC’s 2013 Atlanta College Tour, Emory “felt like home,” and Bea decided to apply. She was accepted with a robust financial aid package but didn’t stop there, ultimately securing the highly coveted Gates Millennium Scholarship (now called the Gates Scholarship). From an applicant pool of tens of thousands nationwide, Bea was one of 300 to earn the full ride, which follows recipients to whichever colleges they choose to attend.

Bea plunged right into her four years at Emory. She graduated with a degree in neuroscience and behavioral biology, minoring in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. Bea now works full-time in Atlanta as a business immigration analyst at a law f rm called Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

Bea urges Fellows not just to get involved on campus but to go all in. “My passions and interests paved the way for the things I ended up being involved in. Knowing things that interest you, knowing things that you’re passionate about motivates you to be involved in those organizations.”

Indeed she was immersed in a flurry of activities. Bea saw Emory as her playground to be explored. She speaks of how exhilarating the national Gates conventions in Washington, D.C. were and how they inspired her to take on the roles of vice president, and later, president of Emory’s Gates Scholars chapter. Protesting after the death of Trayvon Martin her freshman year led to many social justice-focused activities in and outside of school, like getting people to register to vote. Bea volunteered through a national service organization, served as president and vice president of the Resident Hall Association, and was a campus ambassador, leading tours and information sessions for prospective students and families. Perhaps her most beloved activity was volunteering at Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta, which led to her summer abroad at University College London prior to her senior year. There she studied healthcare delivery in the United Kingdom and U.S.

I was exhausted just hearing about all Bea has done, but she said, “I wouldn’t take it back.” That’s because each experience was fulfilling and meaningful, just like my interview with Bea. As an immigrant, I’m inspired by her example.