Meet Commonwealth Students: Rimas ’25, Breaking Out of the Box

When Rimas ’25 arrived at Commonwealth in 2021, she expected to find a collection of students with their faces buried in schoolwork, lost in their own worlds. Happy to discover this wasn’t the case, Rimas has since thrown herself into opening up her own world, whether by learning three different languages at once, relaxing through literary exploration, or connecting with other female-identifying and nonbinary students through discussing both shared and varied experiences. Read on to get to know this junior from East Boston and discover how she’s stepped out of her comfort zone and embraced new experiences during her time at Commonwealth.

Getting to Know You

What is bringing you joy right now?

Definitely reading. Because of how busy I’ve been lately, I haven't had the time to just sit down and read, but I actually did during winter break, and it made me realize how happy I was doing it. So now I'm back on that reading flow.

What is your favorite book (or a book that you've reread)?

Oh, this is hard. I'm gonna have to say Persuasion by Jane Austen. I feel like that's the most underrated Jane Austen book. Everybody talks about Pride and Prejudice, but it's always been Persuasion for me. 

What are your favorite comfort foods? 

It has to be my mom’s Fiteer Baladi, which is basically an Egyptian pizza.

What was/is your favorite class (at Commonwealth or elsewhere)? 

At the moment I'm really enjoying physics, but ever since I started taking my psychology elective, I’ve realized how much I wanted to pursue psychology in the future. It's been so fun, and it's been opening up opportunities for me, like finding a Project Week mentor in that area. 

When do you feel the most enjoyably challenged?

I'm going to have to say physics again, because I do enjoy it, but it's also very challenging. But sitting down and tackling a problem and then getting it right in the end is very rewarding. 

What never fails to make you laugh?

My friends. They're hilarious. Every morning when I come into the Dartmouth lobby, I'm always looking forward to seeing my friends, to joking around. It's a great start to my day.

What are people most surprised to learn about you?

That I'm learning three languages at the same time. I speak Arabic, I'm learning French, and in school, I'm learning Spanish. I enjoy learning languages! (More on this below…)

Coffee or tea?

I want to be a tea girlie, but I'm always coffee.

Pen or pencil?

Definitely pen.

Fall, winter, spring, or summer?

Definitely fall.

Life as a Commonwealth Student (and Beyond)

Using metrics besides grades, how do you define success in your classes?

Success for me is being able to accept failure, taking comfort in and knowing that, no matter what, you can always bounce back and improve. Obviously, I’m disappointed in the moment when I realize I failed at something, but I know I can do better.

How do you spend your time outside of Commonwealth?

Well, I enjoy sports a lot. So, usually, if I'm not reading or spending time with my sister, I'd definitely be out for a jog or going to a basketball court with my dad. 

What inspired you to pursue learning so many languages at one time?

My family, because we come from so many different backgrounds. Part of my family is from Morocco, and they speak Arabic but also some French dialect, so that inspired me to learn French. Coming into Commonwealth, I decided, at first, to keep going at French. But then I felt like I just wanted to know a variety of languages, like my cousins, who speak so many. So I was like, let me also do Spanish and see how I can tackle everything.

When do you feel most connected to other students (or teachers and staff members) in our community?

I feel most connected whenever I interact with them outside of class, in the halls and during recess. Learning more about them personally feels really nice, knowing that I'm able to develop those relationships beyond just academics.

We would love to hear a little bit about your role as a leader of FEMpower [Commonwealth’s affinity group for feminism/women’s empowerment]. Why did you get involved in the group, and what has the experience meant to you?

When I first entered Commonwealth, I noticed how easy it was for people to start clubs. It got me very excited, obviously, and I wanted to jump in and start a club, too, because I was previously participating in a young women's leadership group during middle school. I brought this idea to my friends, and everybody thought it was great. So we started to work on it. Sophomore year is when we really started it up, and seeing how far we’ve gone makes me so happy. 

I feel like a large part of FEMpower is encouraging others to be comfortable with speaking out and just sharing their own experiences. I want people to come into the club knowing that nobody will judge them for what they think and what they feel and what experiences they've gone through. It's really rewarding knowing that people are comfortable talking with us.

What was your first impression of Commonwealth and how has it mapped to your experience?

I definitely felt like the students at Commonwealth would just have their heads buried in their notebooks and their schoolwork, nobody interacting with each other, and it would be hard to develop relationships with others because of that. Imposter syndrome was, I felt, a huge part of my experience—and I think this is a common thing for every person coming into Commonwealth. You find out that your classmates are just like you: we're all in the same boat, we all have the same goal, no matter what interests we have. I found comfort in the fact that, you know, we're all kind of equal in that way, and it's okay to not be the best or to fail. 

How has your Commonwealth experience colored the way you look at the world? How you plan for your future?

I think my Commonwealth experience has encouraged me to step out of the comfort zone I created for myself. In middle school, I always kept to myself, and I had this circle around me, but coming into Commonwealth, I got a push, and it helped me step out of that circle. It just felt so freeing being out of this box that I'd built for myself, and I know I can definitely take that with me throughout college and my career.

What's your advice for prospective students considering Commonwealth?

Don't be afraid to take chances. There's no boundary to your interests. And you'll be surprised to find things you might have never thought you'd like, you love when you go to Commonwealth. So I'm encouraging that.

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