An Interview On
Kenyon College

Background

Interview Date:December 2018

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Other
Graduation Year: 2021
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: Public school in Northern Virginia with a graduating class of 600 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Major: Biochemistry with an Environmental Studies concentration. I am on the pre-med track.
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a Firefighter EMT, in the Community Service Society, I play ultimate Frisbee, and am a teacher’s assistant.

Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
The fire department is one of the most influential experiences for me so far. It takes up a lot of my time and is where I put most of my effort. It makes me a more well-rounded person, and I get to interact with the community in ways I usually couldn’t.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for Biochemistry?
It’s mostly textbook reading and problem sets.

How does Kenyon’s focus on writing impact your coursework for Biochemistry?
A decent amount. It’s known for its writing programs, so there are a lot of interesting course topics available to take such as Philosophy, English, or Historical English. You can take any classes on this spectrum, and you will benefit from Kenyon’s English prestige. It’s made me a better writer, a faster reader, and made me more interested in writing.

Is there anything that you feel the Biochemistry department does especially well or especially poorly?
The department has good interactions with the students. All of my professors know me on a first name basis, and I even call some professors by their first names. You can make good connections with professors that can help lead you in the right direction.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s fairly collaborative. There is definitely competition at all schools, but this is good competition because it pushes you in the right direction.

How accessible have your professors been?
Most of the time I can reach them within a week or so.

Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I like Biochemistry, and I’m on a pre-medical track. I learn more on the Chemistry side of things because I’m interested in chemical synthesis and how chemistry works in living organisms. It’s an interesting major, but I also could’ve taken something else, such as Economics, while still getting my pre-med requirements. You learn things through labs, such as how to manipulate a molecule, and you can dig further into something like this by doing research. You can do so much with the knowledge they give you, but it’s up to you what you do with it.

How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Are there systems in place that help you transition?
We have a tutoring center for math and science which is helpful and pretty fun. I went there a lot freshman year. I’m a little disadvantaged not having parents who are doctors that have the know-how of what I should do, but it’s all about figuring it out. My advisors are people I trust who pass on wisdom to me. It’s important to be open and realize you don’t know everything. The faculty here have much more experience than we do, so understanding this will allow them to help you out regardless of your background.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Mather Hall with one roommate

Sophomore: Wilson Apartments with three roommates

How was transitioning from your hometown in Northern Virginia to Gambier, Ohio?
It’s very different. Kenyon is in a small rural town, and outside of campus is pretty conservative. It’s refreshing to feel this difference from home. It’s not the same old thing the whole time, but some people are afraid of different types of people so they stay in the Kenyon bubble. [Gambier has a population of about 2,450.]

Pros and cons of being located in Gambier, Ohio?
Pros:
1) It’s a small institution, so there is more focus on the individual. [Kenyon has a 10 to 1 student-faculty ratio.]
2) You get to interact with people on a closer level. I’ll recognize most people on campus, and you grow a bond with the people you see regularly, even if it’s unspoken.

Cons:
1) It’s not a city so there aren’t many fun activities outside of campus associated with a traditional college lifestyle. There are very few bars.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
I’m on [firefighter] duty every three days for 24 hours, so it’s more difficult to find free time to go to parties. There are lots of dormitory parties, along with campus parties in Old Kenyon, our primary residence building. There is a different culture here around partying, but it’s worthwhile and you will have fun. Everyone looks out for each other, it’s not aggressive, and people aren’t going out to get [really drunk]. It’s a much more relaxed environment.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
I have a lot of friends that go to Columbus almost every weekend to get out and enjoy themselves. It’s definitely an option only being an hour away. It’s a fun city, and I’ve been there a couple of times. Getting off campus is something you should do.

How happy are you with the nightlife at Kenyon? Is there anything you would change if you could?
It would be nice to be more inclusive in the party sense. We used to have this certain party held by a sports team that would be open to the entire campus. People seemed to be inclusive and have a good time, but recently Kenyon is shutting down these events held under organization names. The parties are much smaller now.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
Through activities or having similar interests with people. This could be having the same major, having a class together, and I also have my firefighter friends. Whatever you do you will meet people, and I’ve met most of my friends where I spend most of my time.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Kenyon?
It’s pretty mild and fun. It’s nothing too crazy, but also doesn’t feel like we are trapped in Kenyon. You have to branch out and find groups of people or organizations to hang out with. There are lots of things you can do, whether that’s getting immersed in work, friends, or going out and doing different activities.

If at all, how did being a first-generation student affect your social transition?
I don’t think it impacted it much at all. Kenyon has a lot of inclusive groups.

How would you describe the student body?
I’d say the student body values collaboration. Everyone is working toward achieving some goal, whether that is doing well in class or becoming more well-rounded. People are open and welcoming.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
They mix pretty well. In my experience, I haven’t seen any exclusivity against any person of a different race or sexual orientation. People are accepting regardless of what you identify as. It’s a very non-judgmental campus. [20% of students are African Americans, Asians, Latinos/Hispanic-Americans, Native Americans, and multiethnic students.]

How do you like the size of Kenyon? [The undergraduate population is about 1,730 students.]
I like it and have gotten used to it. Because of the small size, you can make genuine connections with professors and administration. If it were larger, professors wouldn’t have as much time to spend with you. I can always email, text, or call a few of my professors to grab a coffee and talk about anything.

Careers

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I’ve gone to structure my resume. I have used it for the organizational and formatting aspects, but not so much about the personal aspects such as what to specifically include on my resume.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
I use RStudio for statistical bioanalysis, and a program called Delta for chemistry labs. I also use Kendra, where I get to make up molecules. I wouldn’t have had too much interest in this if it weren’t for Kenyon’s streamlined process that allows me to learn through my work.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs? Were they responsive to your questions?
Yes, I do, and I feel that they are fairly accommodating. The cost was a big issue when coming here, so they were able to help me with tuition. Pierce Hall is a dining option where you don’t use swipes but just go in during dining hours to eat. It’s all incorporated into the cost, and with financial aid, this is covered.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Kenyon before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew about some clubs and musical groups early on. It would’ve been fun to join an acapella group. They seem fun, but do take up lots of time. Getting into organizations early on in college is better than getting in later.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The Kokosing Gap Trail. When people think of Ohio, they don’t think about it as a beautiful state, but there actually are nice places on and around campus. The Gap trail is a paved path that goes through nature and is something you wouldn’t expect to be at a college like this. Check out the landscape, the different buildings on campus, and ask questions to students walking around.

Reason to attend Kenyon:
1) Student engagement.
2) Becoming well-rounded is a positive experience you will have at Kenyon.
3) You’ll get a solid education. Whatever you want to do I’m sure Kenyon offers it and will set you off on the right foot.

Reason to not attend Kenyon:
1) If you are really like big cities.
2) If you don’t like the cold, don’t come to Kenyon.
3) If you don’t like small schools. I think attending a small school makes you better off in the long run, but that’s up to the person deciding.

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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