An Interview On
Brown University

Background

Interview Date:June 2017

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2018
High School Experience: Private school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 100 students. There was a culture of going to college
Concentration: Public Health
Extracurricular Activities: Meiklejohn Peer Advisor Program – Every freshman gets a peer advisor, so I get 4 or 5 freshmen to look after. I play club lacrosse. My main thing is that I work for Planned Parenthood. I’m also part of the Public Health undergrad group.

I’m doing a 5th year master’s program in Public Health. There are only like 7 or 8 people that do it every year. I finished the Public Health concentration in 3 years so I’m taking almost entirely graduate classes senior year. I’ll then stay at Brown for a fifth year and leave with a Master’s in Public Health.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your concentration?
I haven’t taken a single hard science class like biology or chemistry. The science I take is epidemiology, and that is mostly problem sets. I have to take lots of stats classes where we have problem sets. The majority of the classes I take are reading and lecture based and then an exam. I’ve taken a few theory classes that are more discussion based.

Did you especially like or dislike anything about your major’s department? Did they do anything especially well or poorly?
Because I came in already knowing a lot about Public Health, I needed to take a lot of advanced classes early on, but the department didn’t make that very easy. They focus more on giving people a taste of Public Health, rather than help the kids that want to go through it and focus on it. It was also tough because I needed to take those advanced classes to do the 5-year graduate program but then the department wasn’t letting me.

What has been your favorite class you took for your concentration?
Burden of Disease in Developing Countries

What has been your least favorite class you took for your concentration?
BioStats – I just hated the content of the course

What has been a fun class outside of your concentration?
Fertility – it was a reproductive health class in the Sociology department

Why did you pick your concentration?
I’ve always known I wanted to do Public Health since working at Planned Parenthood in high school.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Jameson in Keeney Quad. I lived in a “Dingle” which is a double with a wall between the two sides of the room. It was pretty ideal.

Sophomore: Caswell – I had a pretty okay double with a friend.

Junior: I lived in the [dump] that is Grad Center. I had a really bad lottery number. I was going abroad and didn’t want to worry about rent, finding a subletter, etc. so I lived on campus and it was the worst. I had a single in a suite of singles with a shared bathroom.

Senior: I’m living in a really nice apartment next to school. It’s an old house separated into apartments.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Al Forno. There are a lot of good restaurants around Brown.

How walkable is the area surrounding Brown?
There are definitely liquor stores near campus. There’s a CVS right nearby that we all use. Groceries are a pain in the ass if you don’t have a car because the closest grocery store is Whole Foods. I don’t know what you do to get groceries without a car. I guess the bus.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I’m somebody that studies a lot in cafes around campus. I like Teas and Javas. The library can be super stressful because the people in there are so stressed and anxious.

Pros and cons of being in Providence?
Pros: (1) Rhode Island is a small state and Providence is a small city, so you can sense the impact that Brown and Brown students have on the city. It allows students to interact with the people of Providence.
(2) It’s a 40-minute drive to the beach.

Cons: It feels like a small city. Coming from Baltimore, I feel like there are way less cultural opportunities than other cities. You don’t get the sense that there’s a lot to do.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I go out just Friday and Saturday night. It’s not a big bar college. If we’re going out, it’s because a team or a frat is having a party at their house. That has started declining because the police have started breaking things up at like 10:30 and then fining the hosts. Once or twice a month someone throws something in one of the [lousy] clubs in downtown Providence. Usually, we’ll go to a few friends’ houses, or dorms when we were younger, then just jump from house party to house party until it gets broken up. At the latest it’s around 1am, then we’ll go get food.

What have been some of your favorite days or nights at Brown?
My favorite days are whenever there’s tailgating. We all work so hard and the weekends aren’t that great, so when we have Brown verse Harvard or we go to Harvard-Yale, it’s so fun.

What are some other options if you don’t want to go out to a party or bar?
I think that it’s a small percentage of the school that goes to parties. I don’t know what an alternative is but there are a lot of people that just hang out and they’re very content.

How happy are you with the weekend options at Brown? Is there anything you would change if you could?
It’s okay. It sucks because we work so hard and then don’t know if we’re going to have a fun weekend. People are always like, “You have to make your own fun,” but that’s [stupid]!

Campus Culture

How did you make your closest friends?
Almost all of my friends lived in my freshman year dorm. I met a couple through club lacrosse. I met people that were on the other side of campus freshman year sophomore year. I made a ton of friends sophomore year too.

How would you describe the social scene?
I definitely think Brown’s cliquey. It’s just such a split between the athletes, people that have friends that play sports, and Greek life and those I’d describe as the artsier scene. People have their groups of friends. There’s definitely a group that’s more high up or elite, but there is a massive population that also might look down on you if you play football or something like that. It’s a pretty inclusive space, but there are people on campus that you can identify as being popular and knowing a lot of people.

Do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Yeah, definitely.

Do you think people are happy with their choice of Brown by senior year? Do people leave loving Brown?
I definitely do think that people love Brown, with a little tiny bit of hate. I worked my ass off to get in and know that it’s the school for me, and I think everybody understands that about everybody. People don’t take for granted that they could have taken anybody else other than you. People are appreciative of the environment. It’s also special in that, even though everyone works their ass off, it doesn’t feel as competitive as it could be. You’re not beating anyone else, you’re just trying to do well for you.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you with internships or jobs?
I use their alumni website. It hasn’t gotten me any jobs but they promote that as a way to get a job and I know it’s worked for other people.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Brown before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I put more thought into fun classes I want to take. You can take anything pass/fail except for major core requirement classes. I wish I put more thought into what classes would make me happy. The classes I chose I took for a grade I ended up hating and being stressed about.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Check out the John Hay Library, it’s my favorite library. It’s the most beautiful study space and it’s not a stressful place to study. Also, leave the hill and walk down and along the river. There’s a beautiful park, Indian Point Park, that’s within walking distance. Because it’s such a small campus, it’s important to leave the hill and see what else is around.

Reasons to attend Brown:
1) I really love the people at Brown. The school is really progressive and there is a focus on social justice and social issues.
2) It’s a well-known school and people are happy to be there.
3) There are a lot of opportunities to grow within the curriculum. Go to Brown if you’re somebody that doesn’t know what they want to do.

Reasons to not attend Brown:
1) I can’t promise that you’ll get a super helpful guidance counselor
2) If you’re in college to have a good time, don’t go. You’re going to spend your whole time working. The going out scene isn’t great.

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