BackgroundInterview Date:December 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in New Hampshire with 250 students in the graduating class. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Minors: Spanish and Political Science
Extracurricular Activities: Clark Music Society, Cycles for Change, Jazz Band, Youth Outreach Worcester, and Activist United.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Activist United has had a huge impact on me. I’ve learned political organizing and social justice skills by being directly engaged with political systems on campus. Right now, the Clark Music Society is most important to me.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for History?
History is mostly reading. I have to read up to 250 pages a week on top of maybe 2 essays during the mid-term, and probably 5 total [essays] over the semester. Aside from participation, that’s all the grades we have. It’s not stressful in terms of graded work but is because of the readings.
Is there anything you feel the History Department does especially well or poorly?
I haven’t really delved into the department, but I know we have some specialized tracks like Genocide Studies. Another thing is the people really care about what they are doing here. The conversations I have with History majors always have a lot of nuances, and they try to wrap their heads around the subject matter.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s definitely collaborative. Grades aren’t a big part of my life here. I think I’m here to learn, do the readings and writings, and wrap my head around the topics. I don’t think Clark has any competitive aspect or is even big on assessing how it’s done, which I think is great for the most part.
How accessible have your professors been?
If I wanted to connect with a professor I’ve never had any difficulty, they are always open to it and care about what they are doing.
Why did you pick History? Are you happy with your choice?
I am happy with my choice, and I think it’s important to have a background history. I want to be a Social Studies teacher, and plan on going through the educational track to get my Master of Arts in Teaching in the fifth-year program. From a writing perspective, you become much better because we do so much reading and writing. From an analytical perspective, I feel like I can pick apart things in my life better, especially the news.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Bullock Hall with 1 roommate
Sophomore: Maywood Street Hall with 5 suitemates
How was transitioning from New Hampshire to Worcester, MA?
Honestly, I am more centrally located on campus than I’d like to be. I don’t feel as though I live in Worcester, I feel like I live on campus. I have a lot of appreciation for Worcester as a city, but from an outsider’s perspective, I have not engaged super closely with the locals.
Pros and Cons of being in Worcester, MA?
1) As a private university, sometimes it’s hard to get outside perspective because it’s a bubble. Worcester balances us out because it’s a working-class community with very hard-working individuals. That creates a nice balance to the Clark environment. [The median household income in Worcester is about $45,000.]
2) It’s a great place to be a young person. There are lots of bars and great restaurants.
3) The teaching program is really easy because there are lots of other schools you can go to observe or help out. The city collaborates with Clark.
1) It’s a big city without a lot of public transportation, so without a car it’s hard to navigate. [The WRTA transpiration system serves the surrounding 36 communities in the Central Massachusetts area.]
2) Because of the culture difference between Worcester and Clark, I feel like an inconvenience to the community or an intruder. When I talk to high school students, they sometimes think we are rich people on a white campus. [There is a 22% poverty rate in Worcester.]
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in at Clark?
I go to off-campus parties occasionally. I’m super invested in building the music program here. I set up concerts and open mic events, which are becoming more popular here on campus.
What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
There are no parties on Thursdays, but Fridays and Saturdays you can usually find something. Parties are hosted by people in a house together, or sometimes clubs and organizations. For the most part, Clark parties are open to anybody because we have no fraternities. [Clark University has no Greek Life, but there are over 130 clubs and organizations.]
How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy with it, it’s a pretty solid community. There’s a large population that goes out and people are pretty chill. One thing I’d change is I wish there were more house shows where people danced and got into the music more.
What have been some of your favorite times at Clark?
It’s really easy to have a good time in classes. People here really care about being students and studying. I’ve had incredible times doing research, or just being friends with people in classes. Clark has fantastic speakers come in for guest lectures. I’ve had a lot of fun at certain parties that happen every year where you know everybody, and there is an annual house show that’s been going on for 9 years now.
How did you meet your closest friends?
A lot of them in the cafeteria, and also from just running into them.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Clark?
I think the student body really cares about stuff. It’s pretty easy to make friends. People want to do things and hang out. My only criticism is there is that if you are women, there is a [more significant] culture of being friendly and social. Socially, women run the campus which is great in a lot of ways, but I wish men would integrate and have more fun collectively. I feel I connect better with the girls here, which makes it harder to form solid guy friend groups. The female to male ratio here is around 60/40. [Clark’s student population is 61% female.]
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It really depends. There are massive cliques of all-white people or all people of color, but it’s not like it’s super separated. Racially, Clark is not great at mixing very well, and not a lot of white people go to black student events. There is a solid community of people who identify as queer, and they have a social scene amongst themselves. I feel like the LGBTQ people mix fine with straight people, maybe aside from the athletic culture.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Clark before entering as a freshman?
Going to school at Clark is not going to school in Worcester. It’s definitely a bubble and you are disconnected from the people here. You feel like an outsider, and that’s not always great for the local people. We don’t have a thriving music scene, which I didn’t know while entering.
What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The university administration is not [always] here to help you, and I don’t know if that’s great for encouraging people to apply. [Despite the administration], it’s a great body of students and professors. The learning environment is incredible, but the resources provided by administration are really insufficient. Occasionally they are rude, not helpful, and have shown racial preference. [See Telegraph article, “Clark University students demand school address racial issues.”]