BackgroundInterview Date:February 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2022
High School Experience: Public all-girls school in East Harlem, NY with a graduating class of about 80 girls. There was a culture of going to college because we were part of an organization called CBI (College Bound Initiative).
First Generation College Student: Yes
Extracurricular Activities: I’m part of three TLS (Trustee Leader Scholar) projects. The first one promotes financial literacy called “Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow.” The second one is called “Building Up Hudson,” where my peers and I go to an organization in the Hudson Valley to mentor and tutor students, preparing them for college. The third TLS project goes to Haiti in the summer to teach coding to people of all ages.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The TLS “Building Up Hudson” has, because most of the students also come from low-income backgrounds who needed a little more preparation for college. When we went there, we saw that they didn’t know a lot about the application process, or what scholarships they could obtain.
What has been your favorite class and least favorite class you’ve taken so far?
The Art History class I took last semester has been my favorite because I was new to Art History, and the professors did a good job teaching me the material. I felt that it was really helpful and gave me tools that might be necessary and might connect to other classes. My least favorite class is possibly the History class I’m taking this semester.
Is there anything that you feel Bard has done especially well or especially poorly so far academically?
I feel that, for the most part, the professors enjoy doing their job and they’re very passionate about the fields they’re in. A downside could possibly be that sometimes they don’t take into account situations where a student may be going through something personal, which can be rough for some.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I wouldn’t say that it’s competitive. I feel like everyone is at a different spectrum regarding academics at Bard. Some people strive to get better grades, and some people don’t really care as much. For the most part, I notice that STEM students work really hard, and also students on scholarships because we have to maintain a certain average to keep it.
How accessible are your professors?
They are very accessible. They hold office hours two times a week and you can always get in contact with them.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I chose Sociology because that’s what my sister went into, so I’m mirroring her in a way. None of my family went to college, so for me, it’s still a learning experience. When I graduate, one of my goals is to go back into low-income communities and to try to be a guidance counselor or teacher and help with college preparation.
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Were there any resources or systems in place that helped you adapt?
The transition was a bit difficult because some of the subjects I had not been familiar with because in high school we didn’t have the resources. I was able to transition through the BEOP summer program. We were also put into a writing and a math course when we first began. This eased us into the rest of the school year.
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: McCausland with one roommate.
How was transitioning from Harlem to Annandale-on-Hudson, NY?
It’s a lot to get used to. I’ve never been in a rural environment before, so it’s still pretty difficult and is kind of isolated. In the city, you’re used to everything being next to you, but here, you either have to use the campus shuttle, or most people have cars.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I would say the campus is really safe. I’ve been out as late as five in the morning and have been able to walk to my dorm by myself.
Pros and Cons of being in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY?
1) It’s a change of scenery for people who are probably not used to it.
2) It can be peaceful if you’re looking to get away from a busy city.
1) The isolation.
2) There aren’t a lot of things close by.
3) If you don’t like nature too much, then it probably wouldn’t be the best place for someone. There is nature everywhere.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Bard?
I like to do small social gatherings with my friends, or maybe every two weeks I’ll go to a party held on campus. The parties are generally hosted by clubs on campus such as Women of Color United or Brothers at Bard. They are usually in a place called Manor Cafe, or there are parties at a place called SMOG. Bands typically come and perform here. SMOG can have events Thursday through Saturday, but at Manor, they are usually on a Friday or a Saturday.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
There’s a movie theatre not too far away from campus that I like to go to. Sometimes there will be small events or activities on campus that aren’t parties.
How happy are you with the nightlife options at Bard? Is there anything you would change if you could?
They are pretty good. I’d say that sometimes not a lot of people will show up at the club events.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met them through the summer program I did, BEOP, and we basically have been friends ever since.
How did being a first-generation student effect your social transition, if at all?
It impacted my social transition because I mostly hang out with the BEOP community because that’s who I feel comfortable with. I do communicate with other people in my classes, but most of the BEOP students stick within this community.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Bard?
It’s pretty cliquey, and a lot of people tend to form their groups and don’t really step away from it.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
There have been conflicts and disagreements among students of different races, but I feel like people of different sexual orientations get along fine. I know that one incident has led to a campus-wide protest. One that happened last semester turned into a campus-wide issue, but it wasn’t a protest. [See the Bard College Students of Color Demands 2018 here]. Bard actually acknowledged it and sent out a statement saying they don’t condone that type of speech. [13% of students in the Class of 2022 are Hispanic, 8% are African American/Black, 12% are Asian, and 54% are White.]
How do you like the size of Bard in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has that impacted your experience? [There are about 1,900 undergraduate students.]
I would say it’s been pretty good because Bard does try to engage with the undergraduate students and they’re always planning things for us to do. They want to maintain a connection with the students and keep us interested.
How would you describe the Black community on campus? How strong is it?
We always come together when we need to, but there are also conflicts within the community itself. I don’t know the Black students who are outside of the community, because they tend to stick with their own groups. The BEOP community itself and the people of color outside of it don’t mingle.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
They are pretty helpful. They sit down with you for a good twenty minutes and help you edit your resume.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how helpful is the office?
At times, it’s very easy to work with them. But, recently a lot of students have tried to request refund checks and sometimes they don’t hear back for a while.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Bard before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew about how cliquey and exclusive people can be. I wish people on campus would mix more. Because of the way students interact, if you’re an outsider, you can sometimes feel disconnected from the students. I don’t feel disconnected from them, but maybe see them having perceptions of me if they know I’m part of the BEOP community. When students know you’re part of a certain community, they tend not to be as welcoming because they think the BEOP community isolates itself.
What is something a prospective Black student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
I would say that if they ever do come across social issues, there are places that can help them. We have The Council for Inclusive Excellence (CIE) which helps with issues like that.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
They don’t get to see enough of the dorm life. They only tend to show dorms on South campus, but there are also dorms on Central and North campus as well.
Reasons to attend Bard:
1) It’s a change of location.
2) It gives you a lot of perspectives from people from all over the place.
3) You can dabble in academics and stuff like that.
4) If a student isn’t looking for a party school. Bard is catered more toward academics and there isn’t much of a party scene. Also, there is no Greek life.
Reasons to not attend Bard:
1) Isolation and exclusiveness in the social sphere.
2) The weather, because it can get bad in the winter.