BackgroundInterview Date:November 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public high school in Denver, CO with about 600 students in the graduating class. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: Yes
Major: International Studies
Minors: Africana Studies and Peace & Justice
Extracurricular Activities: I was involved in the Harambee Club, I [have a leadership position] in the Islamic Club, I’m involved in the Multicultural Student Advisory Council, and I’m part of the organization that started the Day of Dialogue. I’m also a peer educator on campus.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
Since I’m in the humanities we get a lot of reading and writing, but it’s manageable if you know how to manage your time. There are a lot of writing tutors on campus and free workshops. There are really small classes and they’re discussion-based. It’s more than just essays and being a number in a class, you’re part of a community within the classroom. [The average class size is 14 students.]
Is there anything you feel that your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
They make sure you have an experiential learning experience. That can include study abroad, which is what I’m doing right now. They do well when alumni visit to get you in contact with certain networking opportunities. They provide opportunities to look beyond the track of going to graduate school or doing research. Because my major is so open-ended, it’s on us to decide what we want to do our senior thesis on.
How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
Both, but it’s also very collaborative depending on which field you’re in. Even in science, I see people doing their own mini tutoring sessions amongst each other. In the humanities, I wouldn’t say it’s a competition, but it’s very much a helping hand. It’s an individualized learning place where you can go about doing your own business without feeling inferior to someone else. I also never cared about talking about grades with other people.
How accessible have the professors in your department been?
Very accessible. You can email them but they also always have office hours and make it clear in the beginning. When they’re not in their office, they’ll email ahead of time saying they won’t be there this week, but they’ll still be accessible to sit and go over your papers. You can even talk to them if you’re going through something and just want a career or academic advice.
Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
The professors at Knox are very cognizant and will teach you what you need to learn, but will also challenge your school of thought. I also believe the responsibility is on the student as well and not everyone will think the same way you do. You have to put yourself out there to actually add food for thought because if you don’t say something about it no one else will.
Why did you choose your majors? Are you happy with your choice?
The International Studies major was one of the things that brought me to Knox. I knew I wanted to be in some type of foreign service working with the U.S. State Department, United Nations, or a human activist program. I found that passion in high school and had the opportunity to keep going in public health or business-related summer programs throughout high school, and I realized my passion is helping people but also understanding different cultures and thoughts. Coming to Knox, I wanted to get away from the big city scene growing up in Denver, but I wanted a diverse and inclusive campus.
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Are there systems in place that help you transition?
I’m involved in a program called TRIO which has made coming to college a lot easier. You can come to campus the week before orientation and get settled in earlier, you have an orientation with other first-generation students, and students with different socio-economic backgrounds. You can ease your way in, and they have events like TRIO emerging leaders. They make sure to engage us in all the opportunities college has, whether that’s FASFA workshops, or they’ll help with your taxes. They have a personalized writing tutor working throughout the week.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on and around campus?
Freshman: Sellew Hall with one roommate
Sophomore: The A.B.L.E Black cultural house with one roommate
Junior: The A.B.L.E Black cultural house with one roommate
Senior: The A.B.L.E Black cultural house with one roommate
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I love Knox and campus safety does rounds all around campus. I feel safe seeing their car, or if it’s late at night you can call them for an escort. They’re really transparent and put out reports if anything happens on campus.
Pros and cons of being located in Galesburg, Illinois?
1) It’s a small town but it’s quite diverse.
2) You can get an Amtrak to Chicago for about $20. You can spend your weekend there and then come back.
3) We’re in close proximity to other universities so you can go by taking the Greyhound bus.
1) Galesburg is a small town so there aren’t many attractions. You have to be creative when making plans and surround yourself with people who want to explore.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Everything and anything. [The A.B.L.E. Black Cultural] house is located next to a fraternity, and because it’s a small campus everybody knows what’s happening. You can find your niche, so if you’re just trying to have movie nights, you can host them. There might be an ice cream social night, or certain organizations will have a build a bear workshop for free. I go out at night and we’ll go to house parties. We also have registered parties where you register your party with campus life, and you can party from 10 PM – 2 AM, but you can’t have alcohol there so it’s an open and safe environment. Students know if you want to [drink alcohol], there are bars nearby. If your party isn’t registered, the campus police can come and shut it down.
How happy are you with the weekend activities or nightlife at your school? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m fairly happy. It depends on which season it is. In the winter no one is trying to go out in the cold, but you also have the option to go to a bar, the movies, bowling, or even planning ahead of time and going to Chicago or nearby campuses. On Sundays we have brunch, so breakfast starts at 10 AM. Everyone parties all Saturday and then everyone is there at brunch on Sundays.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met them through classes and the organizations I’m involved in. Eventually, you end up seeing new faces on campus like freshman and transfer students. Because it’s such a small campus, you end up getting to know them. I’m the extroverted person on campus where if I see someone around with my other friends I’ll introduce myself and invite them to my [organization’s activities].
How would you describe the overall social scene at Knox?
It depends because there are fraternities and sororities, so if you want that type of life you can get it. Any big organization is going to seem cliquish, but those give you have more opportunities for meeting people and interacting with people.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think they mix a lot. The people involved in the Multicultural Student Advisory Council (MSAC) where the whole point of the organization is to let different cultural clubs get together to talk about different problems and issues they have. A bigger part of the conversations that have become prominent on campus is the LGBTQ+ community, and especially people of color within those communities. There are transgender students on campus so I feel like it’s fairly safe. People interact well together. [The undergraduate population is 8% African American, 5% Asian, 15% Hispanic, and 17% International.]
How would you describe the African American community on campus? How strong is it?
There’s a small but strong community on campus. It’s very open to everybody. I live in the Black cultural house, but the house is also associated with an organization called Allied Blacks for Liberty and Equality, so we have non-Black students part of the organization’s leadership. We try to let in a lot of Black students, but also build strong relationships among Whites, Blacks, and colored students to come together on campus regarding anything and everything. Whether it’s parties, certain functions, or supporting the boys on the basketball team. It’s a community being built.
How do you like the size of Knox? How has that impacted your experience? [Knox has about 1,300 undergraduates.]
I love it. That’s one of the reasons I picked it. It’s a little smaller than my high school, but it’s a fairly good size. We’re also open to non-traditional students being on our campus. One of my co-workers is a 30-year-old man but his wife works at the school and he’s taking classes with us. I love how easy it is getting to certain classes. It’s not a 15-minute walk, it’s close and you see everything in proximity.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yes. They’re out there and especially during homecoming weekend is the best networking opportunity through the alumni weekend. It’s an opportunity where a lot of alumni want to help, you just have to ask and be open to wanting to get to know them. They want to help no matter what. I have contacts and network opportunities, I’m just procrastinating.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Knox before entering as a freshman?
I went to the admitted students’ day and got to talk to professors who know more about the major I was interested in. You’ll meet up with certain organizations and they’ll tell you more about how they’re doing if they like it, and what they don’t like about it. I stayed with a student overnight so I got the experience of being in a dorm, eating from the cafeteria, and going to classes with them. Nothing at Knox [really surprised me.]
Reasons to attend Knox:
1) You’re not a number. You’re a student with a name.
2) The intimate relationships you can have with your professors. You can build on genuine relationships. They know their stuff, so it’s not like having a master’s student teach your class.
Reasons to not attend Knox: