Dr. Cassia Oliveira and her family will move into Spragins House in the fall. She is an associate professor of biology and recently received tenure. She will be the first female mentor since the program began.
Dr. Oliveira was hesitant to apply for the position at first. She described how a student changed her mind. “He and many other students told me it would be a good opportunity for growth,” she remembers. “They encouraged me.” Before that, she had been focusing on all the reasons why she shouldn’t apply, but with her students’ help, she was able to think instead about all the reasons why she should. That was all she needed.
The most important roles and responsibilities of a Spragins House Mentor revolve around community engagement. Dr. Oliveira emphasized her desire to “look out for students who are struggling, help them get back on track, and encourage cognitive growth as well as reassurance.” Dr. Oliveira is very excited for this next step in her life, and has already started making plans to get the students more involved. “I am hoping to host small gatherings such as movie nights and taco nights. I hope to try zumba and yoga as well.” She added that she also plans to continue doing lunch with the Year One groups. “Now that I am tenured, I can focus on being the mentor.”
As the new Spragins House Mentor, she hopes to make Lyon feel like students’ home away from home: “I want students to feel welcome and safe at the Spragins House.” She also hopes to promote diversity on campus. Dr. Oliveira is Brazilian, her husband is Iranian, and their son is American. “There is so much hate in the world,” she remarked. “We each come from different backgrounds and want to encourage the acceptance of others no matter their religion or race.”
Dr. Oliveira believes that “life at Lyon is unique and wonderful. Whether you’re here for athletics, band, or academics, Lyon has so many things to offer.” She regrets that many freshmen don’t appreciate what opportunities are available at Lyon until they have been here for a few years. “The liberal arts education is a nice surprise once you realize how fortunate you are to go to a school like this. Life at Lyon is about the journey and not the destination. Through shared experiences, such as coffee nights, zumba classes, and game nights, it is full of growth opportunities and some of your best years.”