An Interview On
University of Rochester

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Interview Date:July 2018

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019. I should have graduated in 2018 but I’m doing a 5-year program called Take Five Scholars.
High School Experience: Private school in Baltimore City with a graduating class of 110. There was a strong culture of going to college, it called itself a college prep school and had a strong college guidance program.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Double major in Linguistics and Computer Science
Minor: Russian
Extracurricular Activities: My biggest extracurricular has been competitive debate, which is not something that my high school had. I thought it was kind of highbrow in high school, but when I came to Rochester there was a pretty strong debate team here. I decided to show up to a meeting my first year and I totally fell in love with the activity. So, I’ve been doing that all four years. I’ve also been engaged in a couple of research ventures with Linguistics professors.

What is the Take Five program? What are you going to study?
It allows you to stay for a fifth year of undergrad to study something that you didn’t study in your first four years, so your major and minor are a no go. The perk of it is that it’s free. It’s not competitive in the sense that there is a limited number of spots, but, you need to put together a curriculum that combines a couple different departments worth of courses and say, “Here is what I want to study and this is why.” I’m staying for a fifth year to study history and political science, which are two interests of mine that I haven’t gotten in in the actual college curriculum time. My pitch was that I wanted a curriculum about the history of nationalism throughout history, and it’s also relevant today. It is something that I really like about Rochester, that they give you the possibility to stay on for this seemingly altruistic extension of your undergrad just for sake of learning.

What impact has the debate team had on your experience?
I think of it as a really integral part of making my college experience as enjoyable as it has been. A lot of my really close friends in college I met initially on the debate team. They fund travel to debate tournaments all over the northeast and sometimes internationally. I’ve gone to the United Kingdom, I’ve gone to Canada, we’ve had people go to Mexico and Jamaica and all of that is funded by the team. Having the chance to travel, talk about issues that are really important right now, and having the intellectual challenge of breaking down misconceptions about beliefs that people have, which are very strong in college, and being forced to entertain multiple sides to really important sense. So, intellectually and emotionally, in the sense of meeting really wonderful people, it’s been a central part of my college experience.

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