An Interview On
Clark University

Background

Interview Date:December 2018

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Black/Nigerian
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: A small public charter school in the Bronx, New York with a graduating class of about 50 students. I was in the first graduating class and I think less than half the students went to college.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Majors: Economics and Film double major
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: As a senior, I’m not part of many. Earlier, I was in the Caribbean and African Student’s Association and Black Student Union. Now I’m mostly just part of the International Student Association. I’ve worked as a residential advisor.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The culture clubs were a place for me to find a home and get to know people who share some of the same cultures as you, and even if they don’t’ share the same culture they appreciate your culture. From an internship perspective, I’ve learned some skills and they help with interviews.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
For Economics there’s a lot of problem sets. It’s more analysis and figuring out what the data is saying. Film is kind of like an English major but we’re watching films and scrutinizing them, [instead of reading books and scrutinizing them]. You look at things from a political point of view and an economic point of view and writing essays on that.

What are your graded assignments for your majors?
For Economics we are graded on the problem sets, midterms, and the final. In Film classes it depends on the class, I’ve taken classes where your film production is what you’re graded on the most and other classes it’s just two big essays. I think the Economics classes are more lenient in grading.

Is there anything you feel your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
I think the Film Studies major has a really strong student to faculty ratio and you can get a lot of one on one time with professors just because it’s not as popular of a major. Economics has a lot of students in the major and it’s such a broad topic that it’s really hard to figure out what you want to do with the major.

How accessible have your professors been?
It’s very easy to get in touch with them at Clark. You just have to send them an email. The professors want to help you, so it’s not hard to get in touch with them.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s definitely more collaborative. It’s still competitive, but not to the point that you feel suffocated. People want to do well for themselves, but everyone will still help you to an extent.

Why did you pick your combination of majors? Are you happy with your choice?
Honestly, it was mostly my dad because he didn’t want me to just major in Film and put all of my eggs in one basket. My first year I was just taking a bunch of classes and Economics was the major I had the most credits in, and I also don’t like writing papers so Economics is more quantitative. Film is something I have a passion for.

How was transitioning to Clark as a first-generation student? Were there any systems in place to help you adjust?
At my high school, we didn’t have a lot of students who are White, so it was difficult to adjust to a different system. Also, everybody does well in classes here, so I felt like I got imposter syndrome. In high school, I was on honor roll and there were students who were not, but at Clark, everybody was on honor roll and had done so much more, and I wondered if I belonged there. I got over that by realizing I got myself into this school.

Clark offers two programs that I did. One is called ACE, which is a program for students of color and first-gen students. You come to Clark two weeks before and take two classes to earn one credit. You also get mentors and are supported the whole year. The other program that I did is Connections, which is a program for students of color. You don’t do academic work, you just come in to meet people of color and talk about your struggles and how to keep your cultural values. It’s pretty much to show you that there are other people like you and it’s more fun. I’m now a mentor and I meet with my mentees every month.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Bullock Hall with one roommate. It is in the middle of campus so you can easily walk places.

Sophomore: Hughes Hall, which was an upperclassmen hall then but they made it a freshman hall this year. Second semester I became a residential advisor, so I finished up that year as an RA.

Junior: Dana Hall, I was an RA for first semester. Second semester I was abroad in Germany.

Senior: Wright Hall as an RA.

What was your favorite living situation?
I prefer a single room because you can make it whatever you want it to be, so for me when I got to move to a single I appreciated the living situation more.

How was transitioning from the Bronx to Worcester, MA?
The cultural fit was also different because the way people dress here is very different from how New Yorkers dress, like here people wear slacks and shoes but in New York people are all about sneakers.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
It’s different for me versus a woman. I think Clark is pretty safe, we have a lot of blue lights around campus. It’s a small school so you can see them from any part of campus you’re on. When something does happen, we get an email as soon as possible that tells us about what happened so we are all aware of it.

Pros and Cons of being in Worcester, MA?
Pros:
1) Clark is close to the downtown area of Worcester so you can explore it.
2) Worcester has a strong focus on the community. There are a lot of community efforts. If somebody likes volunteering this is a good place to be. You can volunteer with so many groups. [See article about the community-driven rebuild of a church. See Action! Worcester organization that drives inclusive economic growth.]

Cons:
1) It’s not a city that a college student wants. It’s not a city where you can just go clubbing. People don’t feel like there is a lot to do in Worcester socially.
2) If you don’t drive it sucks because things that are fun to do are only accessible by car or bus, and the bus takes a long time.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
I like to get dinner with my friends or just watch Netflix. When I do go out, there are a lot of houses close by that throw parties. A lot of students throw social events in their house and invite people on Facebook. I like that all the houses are really close by, it’s about a 10-minute walk from campus at most. Sometimes it will be hosted by clubs having a get together for their group, or it will be a random group of students.

Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year when you were less socially established?
I was just trying to find a party because everybody’s new and nobody knows what’s going on. I was mostly just walking around the area where the majority of groups were going to. If it’s late people might ask you who are you and if nobody knows you might not be able to get, but if it’s early they want it to look like the parties filled up so they’ll let you in. Students will act like bouncers sometimes, it’s interesting. If you know them you’ll get in, but if you don’t it’s like, “Oh man, what am I going to say to this person to convince them I’m a great person” [laughs].

How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I would probably change the music. Sometimes it’s music that I just can’t listen to because I’ve listened to that music all four years. I wish there was a variety of music.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my closest friends through being an R.A. My job makes it easier for me to get to know people on more of a personal level. There sometimes comes a point where they aren’t just my resident, but they are also my friend. Usually, if people really want to make friends it’s through clubs. That’s how people get established. They find one or two clubs that they are passionate about, and after the first one or two social events you are at least acquainted with everyone.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Clark?
I think it’s really nice. People will open the door for you. You can walk up to anyone and talk to them, it’s not a big deal. If you’re a person of color, people definitely notice you more, but it’s not that bad.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
During freshman year I think everyone is in their cultural bubble, but after that, I think people mix more after doing projects with people and having more forced friendships. There are slam poetry events where people come and see who’s performing and when that happens everyone comes together. There are also cultural events, like dinners or there’s an event called the International Gala, which is a dance festival. Everyone comes to everything, it just depends if you have a friend in them.

Do you think people are happy with their choice of Clark by senior year? Do you think people leave loving Clark?
I definitely think so. It depends because sometimes people come to Clark because they got scholarships versus some people came to campus and liked it. I think by senior year people love it, and even if they didn’t like it they feel that they learned something about themselves. I learned that I’m a New York City person and definitely not a Massachusetts person. There are definitely some people who really don’t like Clark and transfer, and I think that’s fine. [The most recent 5-year average retention rate is 88%.]

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
No, I didn’t reach out earlier on because that was a new concept to me. There wasn’t a really strong way to pull the alumni together, but it’s gotten better more recently which is good. It’s a little slow, but I think they’re on top of it.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I’ve used it for help with cover letters and resumes. For me, it was good because I became close to the person who was helping me. She would help me with professional development too. They have drop-in hours to help with resumes and cover letters as well.

Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
For Economics you have to do Excel.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Clark before entering as a freshman?
I wish I checked out the city and how small the campus is. I like being on a small campus but there are times I wish I was on a bigger campus. I also wish I would have stayed overnight to get to meet some students.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I wish prospective students could see cultural events so they could actually see what we do. I think that would help people make their decision.

What is something a prospective Black student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
There’s just a few of us, and that’s something to get used to because that can be how [professional] life is. I know a lot of people who want to transfer just because Clark doesn’t have a lot of Black students but where they’re from being Black is a predominant thing and that’s a big part of their identity. You may be among like 10 Black men in the senior class, but that’s life. That also doesn’t mean that you can’t find people like you, but if you come in thinking you will have an all-Black group of friends, that will probably not be the case. There are different cultures because of the international students, but domestic diversity is something Clark is trying to get better at. [In the 2018-2019 school year there were 92 Black undergraduate students, making up about 4% of the student population.]

Reasons to attend Clark:
1) If you want to be in a diverse environment in terms of interacting with different cultures, Clark will offer you that. [About 13% of students are international.]
2) If you want to learn to find your way and figure out what you want to do with your life, Clark is good because it gives you resources to go search for it yourself. That depends on what you want and how you get it.
3) Clark gives a lot of scholarships. [85% of students receive aid.]
4) People are collaborative with each other and the professors want to see you succeed. It’s not cutthroat at all.

Reasons to not attend Clark:
1) If you don’t like the winter. People will still be social when there are 12 inches of snow.

Notice: Clark University is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Clark University.

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