BackgroundInterview Date:January 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Southeast Asian
Graduation Year: 2021
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
High School Experience: Private school in Cleveland with a graduating class of about 375 students. It was a college preparatory school, so there was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No, but I’m a first-generation immigrant and only my dad went to college.
Major: Neuroscience, on the pre-med track.
Extracurricular Activities: I lift weights and I write for a conservative publication on campus.
Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
Writing for the conservative publication and being part of the political scene had a big impact on me. It made me realize that I didn’t want to go into politics.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for Neuroscience?
Because I’m a Neuroscience major and am on the pre-med track, that means I’m either studying or doing problem sets 16-20 hours a week. Some classes are more concept-based where it is really important to memorize and understand concepts, and there are other classes, specifically Organic Chemistry, that are much more based on repeating exercises. Exams constitute from 40%-60% of the grade and the rest of the class is based on homework, participation, and group projects.
How does Kenyon’s focus on writing impact your coursework?
With my STEM classes, the style of writing is much different from what I was used to in regular English classes. There’s a big divide between humanities writing and STEM writing. I took an English class this past semester and it improved my writing tremendously.
Is there anything that you feel the Neuroscience department does especially well or especially poorly?
I think the professors are really good and they really care about you. If you’re particularly interested in a field, they help foster your curiosity and explore your passions outside of the classroom.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s not competitive, but I don’t think it’s collaborative either. People keep to themselves and don’t worry about what other people are doing. Kenyon has a big problem with people organizing themselves into cliques. People will get in their own little group and study together [whether they’re in the same major or not].
Do you feel people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Yes, in the classroom, but that is something that holds true strictly to the classroom. It’s not something people practice in their everyday life. There’s a divide in how people act in the classroom and life outside of the classroom. Students are very willing to take up new ideas, but it’s not something they will continue to hold on to.
How accessible have your professors been?
They’ve been very accessible.
Why did you choose your major? And are you happy with your choice?
I’m very happy. I think it’s a little more focused than biology. I’m really interested in biological systems and chemistry and all of that, but I couldn’t imagine myself just strictly doing biology and studying plants and stuff. I’m much more interested in anatomy, so I thought that neuroscience was perfect.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: McBride Hall with one roommate.
Sophomore: Caples Hall with one roommate
How was transitioning from your hometown in Cleveland, OH to Gambier, Ohio?
I’ve always been a city guy, so moving to rural Ohio was a big change. It was really weird to not have anything to do when you’re bored, so that was a big adjustment. I love to shop, and not having any malls or shops nearby was weird as well.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
Since I wrote for a conservative publication, I got a lot of harassment from students both in person and on social media, so in that sense, I didn’t feel safe. In terms of my physical safety, I don’t think there was much of a concern. There’s a big issue of the campus being lit.
Pros and cons of being located in Gambier, Ohio?
1) You have a lot of time to self-reflect and work on yourself.
2) The isolation helps you focus on your academics. There are very few distractions around so you can really hunker down, study, and focus on what you’re passionate about.
3) It really pushed you to be creative in terms of what you should do for fun and what you can do for fun. It really changes your perspective on that. We’re in a culture that is becoming increasingly consumer-focused, so being in a place where there isn’t a lot to consume really opens up your mind.
1) Stuff on campus is very expensive in the bookstore and market. You have to go to Wal-Mart and figure out transportation for that to get stuff.
2) Because you’re in the middle of nowhere it’s hard to find alternative groups to hang out with if you don’t fit in with the general zeitgeist of the school.
3) Middle Path connects everything on campus and it gets disgustingly muddy over the course of a school year. When it snows it gets super slushy and it gets very muddy and puddles when it rains.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
There are all-campus parties and there are smaller parties. The parties are relatively small and pretty much what you’d expect [from college kids]. Besides that, there’s not much else to do. The school occasionally hosts nighttime events, but, in general, it’s dependent on what the students want to organize themselves. The smaller parties are hosted by a random group of people who invite their friends. The all-campus parties are mostly Greek-based. I’m not a big partier, but I prefer to go to the all-campuses so I can meet new people.
What do you and your friends like to do when you don’t go to a party?
I like going to Columbus because it gets me back to my city roots. Also, being pre-med and taking all the hard science classes, you’re going to have to do homework over the weekend
How happy are you with the nightlife at Kenyon? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I mean I would like the school to sponsor more events, but I’m pretty content with what they have.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Just by talking to people. I don’t specifically have a group. I’ve never been a fan of that group culture, so I just meet friends that I like to hang out with who funny.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Kenyon?
It’s okay. If you find a group that you enjoy being with, you’ll have the time of your life, but if you aren’t so lucky, it can blow at times. As long as you find two or three friends that you really connect with, it’s a fine time. It was a big adjustment for me because I grew up around lower-income students and I have that sense of humor. When I came here, I’m very well below the income level compared to my classmates, so it’s a completely different culture. The sense of humor and set of values is completely different. [Socioeconomically, 48% of the students at Kenyon come from the top 5%.]
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think the school provides sufficient resources for those students to form groups among themselves and to find refuge in those who they have common interests and can relate to. There is housing specifically for specific groups. [They don’t always mix], but I think those people do very well.
How would you describe the student body?
There’s a quirkiness to Kenyon students that kind of brings everyone together in a way, but there’s still a desire for people to find things that they particularly enjoy and identify with. Overall, there’s a weirdness to all Kenyon students, no matter who you are.
How has the size of your school influenced your social experience? [Kenyon has about 1,680 students.]
There are some areas where the size is really good and there are some instances where it’s not so good. Socially, you’re not going to meet a new person every day. You’re probably going to know every single face. In terms of class sizes, the smaller size is incredible. You really get to know your professor and form a good relationship, so that helps with letters of recommendation and networking.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Kenyon by senior year? Do you think people leave loving Kenyon?
I think the majority of students really like Kenyon. I’d say 95% of students really like Kenyon. There are always things that people would like to change about Kenyon, but they’re superficial things.
How strong is the Asian community on campus?
There are two types of Asian students at Kenyon: the international kids and the Asian-Americans. The international students tend to keep to themselves and they have their own thing. The Asian-Americans has a budding organization, [Kenyon Asian Identities], that’s trying to bring everyone together. Overall, it’s been relatively disconnected. The other groups of color are more prevalent.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yeah, I’ve met some big names in biotech thanks to Kenyon resources. I went to a Kenyon networking event over winter break and met a childhood psychiatrist who is doing incredible things. She gave me her phone number and I’m going to shadow her. Networking is all about how much you hustle. If you have something that you’re passionate about, there’s some way Kenyon can connect you with what you need.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I used the career office to get an understanding of what the pre-med requirements are. Even though I’m not a first-generation student, I’m a first-generation immigrant and only my dad went to college so I had no clue how any of that works. They’ve been very helpful with giving me insight with what classes I need to take, how well I need to do, and what I should be doing over the summer.
Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
I’ve learned R and RStudio, but I wish there were more Computer Science classes for pre-med students because I’d like to learn Python and C++. I used R and RStudio in classes where I needed to do big data analysis, which is mostly in Biology classes.
Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs? Were they responsive to your questions?
Yes, I’m on a scholarship for STEM students. Kenyon’s extremely generous with financial aid and that was one of the big reasons why I came. [Kenyon meets all of the demonstrated need by students and provides need-based financial assistance to about 43% of students.]
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Kenyon before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew that Kenyon’s social scene is cliquey.
What is something a prospective lower income student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
With college admissions in general, don’t always go for the most affordable option. It’s important to find a school that you really enjoy. Affordability is one of the reasons I came to Kenyon and I sometimes second guess myself.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Once you get in there’s a Facebook page you are invited to. Make sure to get to know the people in there and see how the communities work because those are the people who you’ll be spending time with.
Reason to attend Kenyon:
1) Kenyon professors are extraordinary in that they’re incredibly bright and genuinely care about you.
2) The alumni network has some very successful people who are very willing to talk to you because you’re going to have a lot of things in common with them by the time you graduate.
3) The athletic center is really good.
4) There is nature around you. If you like meditation and being outdoors it’s a great place for that.
5) If you’re interested in research, Kenyon has plenty of space for that.
Reason to not attend Kenyon:
1) If you’re somebody who doesn’t like having a clique or tight-knit friend group, Kenyon is a tough place to be at.
2) If you’re not a fan of rain or snow, Kenyon is not a good place.
3) If you want a nice dorm room and want your residence hall to be super clean and modern, Kenyon is not the place.