Scholar Spotlight: 2021 Bezos Scholar Isabel Ohakamma

Catch up with a student Scholar and read their rapid-fire responses to a collection of semi-random questions in the Scholar Speed Round.

By Isabel Ohakamma

4 mins

Scholar Spotlight Headshot-Isabel Ohakamma

Isabel is a first-year student at the University of Virginia studying psychology and youth and social innovation as a Posse Scholar. She serves on UCLA’s Youth National Scientific Council on Adolescence and is passionate about psychology. Isabel plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology and build a career that focuses on supporting youth as they explore their identity and discover their purpose.

Isabel is a passionate advocate for the voices of youth in her community and looks forward to combining her lived experiences with her academic studies to bring about change. As a Bezos Scholar, she founded the Student Wellness Coalition which was designed to provide mental health support and resources, primarily to students of color, that assist them in creating healthy lifestyles to be well-rounded leaders. In her free time, she enjoys reading, finding new tv shows and movies to watch and spending time with her pet rabbit.

Here are 9 semi-random questions and answers with Isabel:

Share a favorite memory from when you were a Scholar: My favorite memory was when Natasha Carrizosa came and spoke during our session. We learned about storytelling, how to cultivate your own story and get in touch with your emotions, and used drawing prompts to bring our story to life. This session was helpful in preparing me for college applications. This session is also coming in handy in my college courses as I do a lot of writing.

Complete this sentence, “If you really knew me, you would know….”I have a pet albino rabbit named Jaxton. I’ve had Jaxton for 2.5 years and my favorite thing about him is that we’re so similar; we love to eat, we love to sleep and we’re independent thinkers.

If you had a theme song, what would it be and why? My theme song would be “Innocent” by Taylor Swift. I like this song because I think it reflects the stage I am in right now. The song is about growing up and taking responsibility and that reflects where I am, I must figure out how to manage my time with school and other responsibilities.

Reflecting on a challenge you have faced, what was a choice you made during that time and the change that occurred because of it? I had a challenge with selecting the college I wanted to attend. I was fortunate enough to have many options to choose from, but I was concerned about how to pick. I ultimately made the decision to choose a school I liked instead of letting other people’s choices and thoughts about school dictate my decisions.

Scholar’s choice: What’s something I’ve changed my mind over the past year: One thing I’ve changed my mind about is my major. I was led to believe I wanted to go to school for pre-med and therefore I took many math and science classes. This year I reflected on the courses I was taking and what really brought me joy and decided that being a doctor is not for me. I considered what I could handle mentally and physically and knew that that environment wasn’t one I would thrive in. Now, I’m pre-doctoral and look forward to all the opportunities that the University of Virginia will offer me.

At this moment in your life, what are you most proud of? I’m proud of the person I’m becoming outside of academics and accomplishment. In high school, my GPA and leadership ability determined my confidence and self-worth. Now, I’m looking within and finding out that I am much more than the number of accomplishments and grades.

If you had a podcast, what would it be about?If I had a podcast, I would talk about youth engagement. I feel like we should be talking about more opportunities for youth and what barriers and obstacles limit them to reaching their full potential.

Where would you take someone who is visiting earth for the first time? I would take them to Los Angeles. When I think of freedom and independence, I think of Los Angeles. The weather is perfect, the people there are unique and there is a lot of character in the city.

What is the one thing you’re deeply grateful for right now? I am deeply grateful for the people in my dorm at UVA; I live in an international community. The dorm has given me the opportunity to learn about other cultures and share what I love about my culture. Also, the free food is a plus! I’ve tried so many new things being in this dorm—I tasted Turkish Delight for the first time over holiday break.

We’re grateful to have you as part of the Scholar community. Thank you, Isabel!