BackgroundInterview Date:December 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Biracial: White and Middle Eastern
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
Graduation Year: 2022
High School Experience: Private school in San Jose, California with a graduating class of about 78 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Biology – Specializing in Cellular and Molecular Genetics
Minor: International Relations
Extracurricular Activities: I worked for the Daily Free Press, I’m in the Kilachand Honors College, and I’m a member of the Figure Skating Club.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Being part of the Figure Skating Club has. It’s a close-knit community, and we get access to older students so we can ask questions to get a feel for what our experience over the next few years might be like.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for Biology?
I’m taking General Chemistry which is a lot of problem sets, lecture times, and 4-hour labs. My intro to Biology class is less work, but I still have lectures, pre-lab work, and then lab work. I took a math course last year that was very difficult, but not too bad in terms of workload. My other classes have been a lot of reading.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
My math class last semester was taught well. I had an incredible professor who took the time to know the students. She was very helpful and supportive when I was struggling. I’m not thrilled with the way the Kilachand Honors College has worked so far. It doesn’t necessarily add anything to my education that I couldn’t do by taking classes outside of my major [on my own] to be more well-rounded. It’s a requirement to take seminars freshman year, but it does constrain my schedule to some extent in terms of studying abroad or taking other classes.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s very competitive in the sciences, especially in the big weed-out courses. In the honors college, and my smaller classes, it does feel more collaborative. The weed-out courses consist of a lot of pre-med students who are competitive in general and want to stand out for medical school. The curve in my classes are a little scary, so people try and be on the upper end of that.
How accessible are your professors?
I would say they are pretty accessible. You do have to advocate for yourself and reach out, especially in a large class. You have to go to office hours or email the professors if you can’t make their times, and let them know you’d like to meet.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m pre-med, so a Biology major seems like a default way to go. I picked my minor because I wanted to do something outside of the sciences, to set me apart and give a different perspective. I’m interested in international relations and the political system, so the [International Relations major] seemed like an appropriate choice. It’s definitely a lot of work, but you make it through, and I’m happy with it.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Kilachand Hall with other freshmen in the Kilachand Honors College. I have 2 roommates and 2 suitemates.
How was transitioning from San Jose, CA to Boston, MA in terms of location?
I think the transition was pretty easy. I took public transit all through high school so learning how to use it in Boston has been helpful to me. If you do get off campus, you get the bustling city feel, but because it’s a college town you’re constantly surrounded with people who are about your age. The first few weeks of not knowing anyone was a little difficult. You don’t know who to sit with or hang out with, but you get settled pretty fast. Everyone is really welcoming and eager to help.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve never felt unsafe walking around on campus. Even at night, it’s very well-lit, and there are hotlines you can call to get someone to come to walk with you.
Pros and Cons of being in Boston, MA?
1) It’s a huge city and there is so much to explore. I love being able to go off-campus with my friends.
2) Medical centers surround us, so if you’re pre-med you can get experience volunteering or interning.
3) The food is really good around campus.
1) Sometimes people have had trouble transition into a big city if they come from a smaller area. I got lost a lot when I first came to campus, so learning to navigate can be difficult.
2) Everything is really spread out, so sometimes it would be nice if things were closer together for when the weather gets bad.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
I’m not involved in Greek life, but I have friends who are. I like to go to concerts, go out to dinner, and I do go to the occasional party, but not every weekend. I’ll also stay in and watch Netflix.
What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
Friday or Saturday.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
A lot of parties are hosted by fraternities which is a big thing here. I haven’t had a lot of direct experience with my nightlife being impacted by Greek life.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
I’ve heard good things about The North End. You can take the T out to Faneuil Hall where there are good food and shopping places. I like to get off campus on the weekends, so I’ll take public transportation and explore. I know BU offers a lot of on-campus events, especially in the first few weeks of welcome.
How has identifying as LGBT influenced your nightlife experience?
I don’t think it has at all. I’ve never run into an issue with it.
How happy are you with the weekend options at BU? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy with it.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met one at orientation, a couple through my classes, and a few from the skating team.
How would you describe the social scene?
It’s fairly well-rounded. Some comment that our party life isn’t as good as other schools, but overall, I think it’s pretty good. There are also opportunities to go out and get involved to meet new people which I think is cool. It’s like the academics, you have to take advantage of it and take the initiative. To meet people, you need to [do something such as] joining a club and putting yourself out there, but you’ll meet really cool people.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix on campus?
I would say they mix pretty well. In the honors college, we all intermingle, and it’s been really good. You do see intermingling, and campus is not separated in my experience. [BU’s undergraduate population is about 10% Hispanic, 3% Black, 42% White, and 12% Asian.]
How do you like being in a city campus? How has that impacted your experience?
In terms of access from being in a city, you get access to really cool facilities if you want to get off campus or volunteer. I have volunteered at The State House and the Boston Medical Center. Having that access to a variety of things is great, and is something I was looking for when applying to college. You don’t see a lot of non-students walking around the main area.
How do you like the size of BU in terms of undergraduate enrollment? [BU has 16,792 undergraduates.]
I like it. One of my big goals coming from a small high school was to go to a large university. You are always meeting someone new and can get a different perspective on things. I think the size is good but can be a little overwhelming, but you will meet people.
How strong is the LGBTQ community on campus?
I’m not particularly involved in any LGBTQ groups on campus, so I don’t really know.
Have you learned any computer programs through your coursework that will be helpful to you professionally?
I’ve used Excel in my Chemistry and Health Policy classes I’m taking this semester. I’ve also used Adobe InDesign.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Boston University before entering as a freshman?
You really have to reach out for yourself. You have to be willing to take that step to be successful, especially in large courses. Know the transition isn’t as difficult as it sometimes may seem. The first couple of weeks are the hardest but you will get settled and meet great people, and it’ll all work out.
What is something a prospective LGBTQ student should know that we haven’t touched on?
This may be a general piece of advice, but don’t be afraid to be yourself. I know this is something I struggled with, but there is the saying that people who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter. Be yourself, and you’ll meet the people who are meant to be in your life and don’t worry about the others.
What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Try to get into more than just the dorm they show you, and try to meet professors in the department you may be interested in. It’s a good way to get an idea of what your experience might be. Try and explore the city as well so you know if it’s something you like doing.
Reasons to attend Boston University:
1) I love the people I have met. Everyone is super welcoming and willing to help you out.
2) It’s a great city.
3) The diversity in activities you can participate in is really cool. There is something for everyone.
Reasons to not attend Boston University:
1) If you’re intimidated by being in a large city with a lot of other students, this could be a hard thing to get over.
2) If you struggle or dislike walking long distances.
3) If you don’t like big classes. [The average class size is 27 students and there is a 10:1 student/faculty ratio.]