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Hey everyone! My name is Briana M. Rosado, and I'm a junior studying Biomedical Sciences. I was timid coming to UCF at first because not only is UCF a huge university, but because I'm a young parent and I was under the presumption I wouldn't be able to connect to many other students being that not many students come to UCF with a child. Joining EXCEL had to be one of the best decisions I've made not only because of the academic support given, but because of all those I've come across. On top of having better math professors and having made some of my closest friends, I had a GEMS mentor that was both academically helpful and supportive throughout my first two years. UCF advisors are knowledgeable about the classes needed for your individual academic goals, but having peers that have recently taken the classes you are considering can be much more guiding; this is why I'm so appreciative for the EXCEL and GEMS program. After coming into UCF and looking at the curriculum catalog I had a pretty good idea of classes I'd be enrolling in, but my mentor and my friends within the EXCEL program advised me on what classes are best taken together and vice versa. My favorite professor here at UCF, which is a graduate student provided to members of the EXCEL program, is Arielle Gaudiello. Arielle teaches college math courses from Algebra to Calculus 3, and the way in which she presents concepts is extremely concise. Arielle actually takes out the time to re‐write her notes and practice questions with her students, and truly cares about their success! I chose to get involved in GEMS/EXCEL because of everything it has to offer. Within your first semester on campus you'll see everything UCF has to offer, but what really stuck out to me about EXCEL/GEMS are the networking and research opportunities. Within my first two years in the EXCEL/GEMS program I've come in contact with many people who have the same interests and goals as I do, and those that have made it within the STEM field. I've also completed one semester of research in the Department of Microbiology through the EXCEL program. My goal with my degree is to get accepted into a medical school, and eventually practice medicine. Medical schools require a lot from undergraduates, and the EXCEL program has given me access to a number of resources that I wouldn't have had access to otherwise. Even for STEM students who aren't interested in medical school, but are interested in a graduate program, the EXCEL program provides unlimited resources to make their students that much more competitive. EXCEL/GEMS is one of the best programs on campus to help students within a STEM major flourish. When I'm not at school during my free time, I love to spend time and go out with my son. I can't wait to meet all of you guys, and good luck during your first year at UCF!