Scholar Spotlight: 2021 Bezos Scholar Selima Terras

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 Selima Terras

4 mins

Selima Terras

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

Selima Terras is a 2021 student Scholar from the African Leadership Academy. She and her team of six worked on the 10th edition of the South African Ideas Festival that brought together 50 participants from 18 different countries. Selima served as head of logistics and curriculum development, leading a team of six interns with whom she designed 25 hours of curriculum and built partnerships with local and international organizations. Selima’s role allowed her to combine her love of pedagogy with her passion for youth empowerment. In addition to her work with curriculum development, Selima was able to use her gifts of singing and songwriting to compose and perform two original theme songs for the festival.  

Selima is now a first-year student at Bowdoin College in Maine and is studying Music, Education, and Anthropology. During her short time at Bowdoin, she has joined the Middle Eastern ensemble where she sings and plays the cello. She was also briefly a cellist for a fiddle band and has just started a radio show at the local station called “Radio Habibi” where she plays electronic Arab music every Monday.  

In addition to her musical ventures, Selima is determined to explore nature; during her fall semester, with no experience in the outdoors, she joined the Bowdoin Outing Club (BOC) to go on weekly hiking and camping trips around Maine. She loved it so much that she hiked Mount Katahdin during fall break. Excited about her new-found enthusiasm for the outdoors, Selima decided to become a certified BOC trip leader and completed 350 hours of lectures, demonstrations and fieldwork. For the past month, Selima has been spending her weekends in the mountains, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and bushwalking. Joyful, hard-working, and driven by a love for connections with people, nature and art, Selima has been loving this new era of exciting possibilities.   

Here are nine semi-random questions and answers with Selima: 

Share a favorite memory from when you were a Scholar: The January project presentations! It was so lovely seeing different Scholars shine as they presented projects they were passionate about. Our team had so much fun practicing the presentation and celebrating once it was over.  

Complete this sentence, “If you really knew me, you would know….” That I love apple sauce! 

If you had a theme song, what would it be and why? My theme song would be “Grace Kelly” by Mika.  

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 felt invincible at the beginning of the spring semester and decided to join nearly every music ensemble on campus. Spoiler alert, it wasn’t the greatest of ideas. Though it was fun exploring different musical styles and meeting new people, I couldn’t engage deeply in any of them. After honest self-reflection and conversations with friends and advisors, I redesigned my schedule for the semester to prioritize limited but exciting activities. I am now able to invest much more time in my friendships, musical ventures and classes while making time for rest and serendipity. 

Who is the last new friend you made? A few weeks ago, I started working in the dining hall and got to spend time with one of the chefs named Chris. Chris is not only an excellent cook but also a fun and kind teacher and conversationalist. Every Friday morning, we get to share bits of our weeks while making pancakes and scrambled eggs for the 500 students who come to our dining hall. 

At this moment in your life, what are you most proud of?  I am proud of the fact that I am being more intentionally curious and consciously battling the initial resistance that comes with new challenging information. I am getting out of my comfort zone with classes and delving deeper into conversations with friends and it is making me feel so excited about life. 

If you had a podcast, what would it be about? If I had a podcast, it would be about Arab Electronic Music. 

Describe the last moment you felt truly joyful. Last Friday, I decided to go to the museum by myself. I had never done something like this and decided to treat myself after a challenging week. The experience brought me so much peace and joy. I was able to read all the captions at my own pace, spend time soaking in the colors, brush strokes and textures. 

When was the last time you felt vulnerable in a good way? Though I've been living away from home for a moment now, I felt unexpectedly homesick last weekend after calling my mother. I called a friend seeking comfort; she spent the afternoon with me and suggested we watch a movie and eat out. I felt very safe sharing my feelings with her and was very grateful for her presence and love. 

What is the one thing you’re deeply grateful for right now? I am especially grateful for my female friendships. I love providing and receiving unconditional love and support from the kind, sharp, and passionate women in my life. Shoutout to my roommates, professors, friends and sisters.     

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