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Hi!!! My name is Kaila Peeples, and I am a Photonics and optics engineering major. This will be my third year at UCF. In 2021, I graduated from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts which is in Jacksonville, Florida. My favorite class thus far has been my Foundations of Photonics Lab. It has been fun and makes me feel like I am finally doing things applicable to my major. One of my favorite professors was my French III one. Mme. Giltner is such an amazing professor and really cares about her students. The class was a nice break from all the STEM ones. I joined GEMS because I know how important it is to have a strong support group and I wanted to meet other women in STEM. GEMS has helped me meet new people and learn about different things on campus.I decided to become a GEMS mentor because I really want to help incoming students in any way I can. I want to be able to provide support and resources that will help everyone succeed in their transition into college. In my free time I usually workout, listen to music, watch movies, and go to concerts. I also really like to cook/bake.

Words of advice for the GEMS first-year students: Don’t struggle in silence!!! Always use the resources that are available to you and try not to bottle everything up. Your friends, advisors, and family may be able to help you find a solution. You are not alone in your circumstances and there will always be people (including me J) that are willing to help in any way they can.