Johns Hopkins University
BackgroundInterview Date:Winter 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Bengali or South Asian
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: December 2018
High School Experience: Public school in Alexandria, VA with a graduating class of about 550 students. About 70% of students went to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a teaching assistant, I’m a gender violence prevention trainer, I’m in the professional co-ed engineering fraternity Theta Tau, I’m in the South-Asian acapella group Kranti, I’m a mentor for a refugee family in Baltimore, I’m in the Bangladeshi Student Organization, and I do research in a lab on campus.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Kranti has had an impact because at first, we were pretty bad but we’ve improved a lot over the past four years, and now we’re competing and releasing albums on Spotify. Gender violence training and mentoring the refugee family are both very emotionally rewarding and makes me feel that I’m making a difference in the community.
How easy was it to get involved in the research you do on campus?
Very easy. I emailed professors and then one of them took me in.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
There is a lot of problem sets and the occasional lab. The grades come from midterm and final exams.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
They’re good at helping students get research, and if you’re interested in graduate school there are a lot of resources for you. If you’re interested in industry or anything other than a research path than there are very few resources or help from professors because most of them are involved in academia. That’s definitely a drawback.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think one of the best things about my major specifically is that it’s so collaborative compared to other engineering majors. [We have classes graded on a curve, and we still are collaborative.]
What is your favorite class in your major?
Introduction to Process Analysis. I thought that was kind of fun.
What is your least favorite class in your major?
Controls. It’s very bland. You learn about controlling systems and reactors and it is boring because there is not as much application.
How accessible have your professors been?
They’re all very nice and are easy to talk to.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
I interned at the Naval Research Lab in high school doing synthetic chemistry research. I thought that since I did it in high school I should continue doing it. I also thought it was a really versatile major because you can go into a lot of different industries. But, looking back, I don’t know if it was the most suited to my interests because I want to go more into global development and nonprofit work after graduation. I don’t know if I would change it because I like the analytical skills that I gained from it, but I don’t know if it was suited to me.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: AMR II with one roommate.
Sophomore: Charles Commons with three suitemates
Junior & Senior: Wyman Towers with one apartment-mate, but we have separate bedrooms and bathrooms.
How was transitioning from Alexandria, VA to Baltimore, MD?
Really easy because it’s in the same D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area. My parents can drive all my things back and forth and drop off food whenever I need it.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve never had any problems with it, but I know people that have had problems walking late at night. The closest brush of danger I’ve had is I saw a girl get her wallet taken and we had to call the police. Other than that, it feels pretty safe on campus. If you’re off campus at night [it’s a little less safe].
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Pros and Cons of being in the Charles Village neighborhood of Baltimore, MD?
Pros: (1) I like the circulator bus.
(2) There’s a lot of stuff to do in Baltimore. I like to go to Hampden.
Cons: (1) All the food around Charles Village is really overpriced. Also, the grocery stores around us are all really overpriced. There’s no cheap place to get produce.
(2) Bikes get stolen all the time which is annoying, and your tires will get taken off your bike.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Johns Hopkins?
I turned 21 pretty late, so I haven’t gone to bars much unless there was a school organized after party or venue. I mostly go to house parties, and when I was younger, I went to frat parties.
What nights of the week do you like to go out?
When I was younger I went out a lot more. Freshman year I went out Friday, Saturday, and sometimes Thursday. Now it’s like Saturday every other week.
Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year?
We would pregame and then head out to the fraternities. We had friends who were in fraternities so that’s how we knew where the parties were.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife? Has it impacted you as a person not in Greek life?
It hasn’t impacted me. I was still able to go to their parties and hang out with them. My professional fraternity has also provided me a lot of social life too.
How happy were you with the nightlife options at Hopkins? Is there anything you would change if you could?
It’s fine. I just don’t like that if we were to go out in Baltimore it wouldn’t be that many people our age unless all the students are going somewhere. That has made it harder to leave campus to go out.
What have been your favorite times at Hopkins?
I think my favorite times have been the time I’ve spent with friends. Maybe long nights just talking or performing with my acapella group.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I have a couple of groups of really close friends. My freshman year floor was really tight, and we’re still tight now. They’re not the people I hang out with every day, but we’re still really close. I have a lot of friends from my major because my major is really friendly. I have a group of really close group of friends from my professional fraternity. I’ve also made some close friends in the Bangladeshi Student Organization.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
There’s a really big stress culture at Hopkins, so there are a lot of students who don’t prioritize their mental happiness and health. I don’t think I’d put myself in that category, I think I’ve really learned to relax, but in general there’s a culture of people competing on who’s more stressed.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think there is a lot of separation because a lot of the White athletes will stick to themselves. There are token minorities within those groups. The Black and Brown students tend to stick to themselves, and it feels like they don’t want to put themselves out there. The South Asian and East Asian students are really cliquey too. There are a lot of cultural cliques. [About 26% of the students here are Asian.]
How do you like the number of students at Hopkins?
I think it’s a good number. I like it. It’s enough that it still feels big but the campus size is good, and the class sizes are great. I think it’s an optimal campus size.
How strong is the South Asian community at Hopkins?
There’s definitely a divide between the graduate students and undergraduates because the grad students tend to be international. There are a couple of dance groups, my acapella group, and SASH which is the overall South Asian Students at Hopkins club. I think the community is tight in that, besides those who don’t choose to be part of the groups, everybody knows who everybody is. But, I wouldn’t say they are super friendly or would go out of their way to help each other.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Hopkins by the time they graduate? Do you think people leave loving Hopkins?
I’m not sure. I think it depends on the person. For some people, no. Personally, I don’t know if I would have been happy or not at another school. The people who I’ve met here are so valuable to me that I couldn’t imagine any other way of it happening.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Not really. My professional fraternity has an alumni network that’s been really helpful for advice, but since I decided I don’t want to do engineering the alumni haven’t been helpful.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
The career services at Hopkins are terrible. I have two examples.
One time I decided I was interested in consulting and you can set up mock case interviews. After I set up one it was pretty helpful, so I asked the career coach if I could set up weekly meetings with her. She said, “Oh, well I only have two cases printed out so we can only do one more meeting. That seemed ridiculous to me because printing out a case is not a difficult task, they’re everywhere. It felt like she didn’t want to help me more than two meetings that she was obligated to do. I printed out more cases and kind of forced her to help me.
The other example is I emailed the director of the career department to meet for advice because he has a similar background to what I wanted to do in the future, but he said he was too busy. I knew he had open office hours, but he didn’t tell me about them. I asked him about the open office hours and he said that he could only meet with me for 15 minutes or less if there are other students waiting. It felt very unwelcoming. I went to visit him for office hours and there was nobody there, so I don’t know why he said that.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful professionally?
We use a lot of MATLAB in my major, but I don’t know how helpful that will be. We also use a little bit of Excel.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating was the office to your needs?
Yeah, I get about half tuition in financial aid. It’s still hard for my family to afford that and we have a ton of loans. They’ve been okay.
What is something you wish you knew about Hopkins before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew that there are a lot of opportunities that you can explore. It’s a great school with a lot of opportunities. People will try to put you in a box and tell you about a formula of things you have to do, like research, leadership positions in clubs, etc. If you aren’t careful, you can have a really limited undergraduate experience. There are a lot of things I wish I had known about earlier that I wouldn’t be able to pursue. So, keeping an open mind and making time to explore different things.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
If they’re religious go to the Interfaith Center.
Reasons to attend Johns Hopkins:
1) If you’re really, really interested in research and want access to research as an undergraduate.
2) If you have broad interests and want space to do everything, there is a lot of space to do that because there is no core curriculum. There’s a lot of space to do double majors or double minors. I think that’s one of the best things about the Hopkins curriculum.
3) It’s a very reputable school. There’s a name brand associated with that that is very valuable. The name gets you through a lot of doors.
4) Location-wise it’s close to D.C. and there are opportunities through that.
5) The Peabody music school is nearby, and those are invaluable resources if you want them.
Reasons to not attend Johns Hopkins:
1) Stress culture.
2) Poor mental health resources and understaffed counseling centers.
3) Students are told to go down a certain path and often don’t deviate from it. [People will try to put you in a box and tell you about a formula of things you have to do, like research, leadership positions in clubs, etc. If you aren’t careful you can have a really limited undergraduate experience.]