An Interview On
Kenyon College

Background

Interview Date:December 2018

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White
Graduation Year: 2021
Sexual Orientation: Queer
High School Experience: Public school in Saint Louis, Missouri with a graduating class of 84 students. There was a culture of going college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Molecular Biology
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I am on Club Rugby, in the Biology Journal Club, am an RA (Resident Assistant), and am in the STEM Club for LGBTQ students.

Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
Rugby is pretty big in my life. I am on the administration for it and have made a lot of friends through it. I was not expecting to be part of a club sport, but it now takes up a lot of my time. It’s good for my health and social life.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for Molecular Biology?
My lab classes are once a week for three hours. We will have pre-reading, then an experiment with class. So far, the homework is optional but it’s recommended, and most of my grades consist of tests and projects.

How does Kenyon’s focus on writing impact your coursework for Molecular Biology?
I get a lot more exposure to writing than I did in high school. For all my lab classes, I have to write up a protocol reflection of what I have done. I’ve also gotten exposure to how to write scientifically. In my other courses, we do a lot of primary source readings about what is going on in the world.

Is there anything that you feel the Biology department does especially well or especially poorly?
I think the Biology department professors are really supportive of the material. It’s easy to get involved in research at Kenyon. You can just walk into a professor’s office hours and express your interest.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s more collaborative. I was worried about this coming into college, especially looking at schools that are hard to get into. I have never felt that I couldn’t leave my notes out, or was competing for grades. I have lots of good study groups.

How accessible have your professors been?
I definitely think they are accessible. Everyone has office hours, but the one thing I find difficult is finding the office hours for professors I do not have classes with.

Why did you choose your major? And are you happy with your choice?
I chose Molecular Biology because, since high school, I knew I wanted to study either biology, chemistry, or something in between. Going into Kenyon, I liked having the option to do research, among other things. I think Molecular Biology is cool because I get to learn about life, and have been enjoying it so far.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: McBride Hall with one roommate
Sophomore: Mather Hall with no roommates

How was transitioning from your hometown in Saint Louis to Gambier, Ohio?
I knew it was going to be an adjustment. We have fewer options on campus than being in a city, which also secludes us so we can focus on academics and making friends.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on campus?
It’s very safe. Every once in a while, going off campus feels different than being in the city because you are secluded from other people. Some people fly Confederate flags, which can make me nervous being in rural Ohio.

Pros and cons of being located in Gambier, Ohio?
Pros:
1) You get to focus on your academics.
2) The campus is very beautiful, and you can explore the nature around.

Cons:
1) There is no Walmart in Gambier, so you have to go to the next town over.
2) The political atmosphere is pretty liberal, but there is a more conservative area surrounding Gambier.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
There isn’t as much nightlife compared to the big state schools some of my friends go to. There are house parties, but all the residents live in on-campus housing owned by the school. I go to rugby parties, or sororities or fraternities will always have something. Kenyon is also good at bringing in musical talent, so you can see a band or singer perform as well. There are a good number of things to do. We also have one bar around campus called The Village Inn, so there isn’t much of a bar life.

Are there regular places you go on certain nights?
On Wednesday, there is trivia night at The Village Inn, there’s also Weaver Wednesday that’s hosted by [a student organization at] Kenyon, mostly first-years will go to that. Friday and Saturday nights are usually when there is an all-campus party or other parties like that.

Describe a typical going out night freshman year. How did it differ from when you are now more established socially on campus?
Freshman year I’d go to a friend’s dorm room to get ready before going to the on-campus parties. All the houses are in the same region. Parties start at around 10, but people usually show up around 11. We’d then go south where the Greek life lounges are in Old Kenyon. We could then go to smaller parties after if we wanted to.

How has identifying as LGBT influenced your nightlife experience?
The LGBTQ House hosts some parties and they host Queer Beers every one or two months, so there are some opportunities for just the community. I’ve found people who I can relate to and end up going to those things with them.

How happy are you with the nightlife at Kenyon? Is there anything you would change if you could?
It would be nice if Kenyon offered more activities, especially ones that aren’t related to traditional on-campus partying. I like the more chill events where drinking is not the focus, like when they bring in bands.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met a lot of them through rugby. I am also in a scholarship program where we go to campus the summer before our first year, and take classes. I met a lot of them through this, along with a STEM Scholars program that happened at the same time.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Kenyon?
I wasn’t expecting as much drinking and partying at Kenyon as there is. I think it’s a typical atmosphere on a college campus, but not as much bar hopping.

How would you describe the student body?
There isn’t a lot of racial diversity, which is something Kenyon is working towards. It definitely has pretty wealthy students, so the socioeconomic diversity isn’t as diverse as I hoped it would be. Other than that, I think people are pretty accepting and liberally minded, which creates an environment where people are open to new experiences. [Socioeconomically, 75% of Kenyon students come from families in the top 20%, and the median family income is $213,000.]

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
There is a good amount of it, especially in my friend circle. There is not a lot of racial diversity, but I’d say there is a good amount of religious diversity. People are pretty accepting overall. [22% of the Class of 2019 are domestic students of color.]

How has the size of your school influenced your social experience?
I was looking for smaller to mid-size schools because that is what I came from. When I got to Kenyon, I was worried I wouldn’t know anybody, but I like the small size of it. I know a lot of people, but if you don’t want to see a certain person you’ll still run into them. [Kenyon had 460 students enter in the Class of 2021]. I know some people that have come from larger schools who feel a little isolated. I pretty much know everyone in the Molecular Biology department, which has helped my form relationships.

How strong is the queer community on campus?
I’d say it’s pretty strong, but it does have a strong focus on partying. I think there is a good amount of people indenting as LGBTQ, so you’ll find people super involved, and people who aren’t involved as much.

Careers

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
My first year I went to discuss what [academic] track to take. I was thinking either pre-medical or graduate school. They talked with me about both paths, and what to start thinking about. They also have random events, like I got my profile picture taken there for LinkedIn.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
In my Introduction to Biology classes, we learned the programming software R Studio. We use it for statistical and data analysis, and I’ve been able to use this a little in my research.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs? Were they responsive to your questions?
I do use financial aid. I’ve never been to the actual office, but have spoken with them on the phone. I haven’t had problems with them and got the financial aid package upon acceptance.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about your school before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew more about the party scene and had a better expectation about the reliance on alcohol in the party scene.

What is something somebody who identifies as Queer should know that has not been mentioned?
I think they should realize there are great opportunities to connect with Queer students at Kenyon. There is a good population, but you can also still identify as queer but not associate with the Queer organizations.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
If you are interested in sports, be sure you go down the hill to the KAC (Kenyon Athletic Center). The Kokosing Gap Trail is also cool but is off-campus.

Reason to attend Kenyon:
1) You get the opportunity to work closely with your professors.
2) The atmosphere is pretty focused on academics, but it’s not overbearing. People like to do well, but it’s not a stressful environment in that sense.
3) You get to make really close friends, but it’s also not too small.

Reason to not attend Kenyon:
1) If you are worried about being in a small and rural environment.

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

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