BackgroundInterview Date:April 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Biracial: Asian and White
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public school in Los Angeles, CA with a graduating class of about 700 students in my graduating class. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: I do a lot of volunteer service and I’m an active leader in the Christian community. The first year I volunteered with Ascend where we went to a local elementary school and tutored underachieving students. Sophomore year I was a tutor for the Center for Prison Education (CPE) and I went to a women’s correctional institute and helped them with written assignments. Now, [I have a leadership role] with the Foster Care Support Project (FCSP) where we connect student mentors with local foster children.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
All of them have in a unique and profound way. At the end of each year, if you asked me, I would say that the volunteering I did that year was the most significant thing I’ve done during my time at Wesleyan. Every new experience has given me a lot of perspective, helped me develop organizational and communication skills. Especially with CPE, my experience working with the staff and the incarcerated students helped inspire me in a way that I can’t fully describe.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
We have a lot of essays. The frequency varies depending on the classes I’m taking. In upper-level classes, there is a less intense course load because a lot of focus is placed on projects. But, in the middle and lower level courses, there is a lot of reading and writing.
Is there anything that you feel either of your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
The English department is spectacular. They have professors that come from a variety of different disciplines and it’s practically impossible to find a professor or a couple of professors with whom your interests align. I’ve been blessed to have two professors in the English department who helped me steer me in my own journey and I know that for other English major’s they have a similar experience with different professors. I think the best part of the English department is there are so many professors with diverse backgrounds that it’s impossible to not find somebody.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
The learning environment is collaborative. The English department places a lot of emphasis on collaboration and the students really do want to support each other in becoming stronger writers and better critical thinkers.
How accessible are your professors?
Very accessible. Perhaps the most important reason I came here was because of the small class sizes. The close relationships I’ve developed with my professors have all been a result of the office hours that they offer. There aren’t lines outside of their offices with students waiting to speak with them, which is really nice.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I was hopping around quite a bit my first two years. Even though I started taking English classes during my first semester at Wesleyan, I did not intend to major in English. I started out as pre-med but then I switched to Psychology which I enjoyed but realized I didn’t want to write a thesis. I then switched to the College of Letters which is a terrific interdisciplinary program that incorporates literature, philosophy, and history, but I decided that I wanted to focus more on literature and so I just made the transition to English where all we do is study literature.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Bennet Hall with one roommate. I think we got the best dorm of all the five freshman dorms.
Junior: I am a house manager at Light House so I have my own room. Being a house manager is similar to being a resident adviser.
How was transitioning from Los Angeles, CA to Middletown, CT?
It was definitely a culture shock when I got here. It’s a different atmosphere in New England. I had lived in New York City for a couple of years, so I was familiar with the winter and that didn’t come as a shock to me. But, the way people live here was a lot different than the way people live in the part of L.A. that I’m from, so it took about a year and a half to get used to.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
Wesleyan is located in a neighborhood that has a decent level of crime, but it’s not overwhelming or prohibitive in any major way. It is a fairly small town, there are about [47,000] people in the town. In the years past, there have been some serious incidents involving shootings, but those have been fairly isolated. In terms of petty crime, we have had burglaries and students accosted while walking down the street, but nothing in these last three years that have involved any physical harm to students.
Pros and cons of being located in Middletown, CT?
1) It’s a pretty reclusive and secluded town, so you have the ability to really focus on your academics. That has certainly been an advantage to me because there are no distractions.
2) Middletown has a lot of restaurants on Main Street that we all like to visit. There’s a healthy diversity in the cuisine that’s always a positive.
3) There is an existing relationship between the Middletown community and the university that is long-standing and growing every year. We have several community service groups that are actively engaged with the community at any given time.
1) The seclusion. Although a lot of students are engaged, there are also that are not, so we do call it the Wesleyan Bubble because a lot of students just stay on campus the entire time.
2) There have been some crimes. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s not a completely safe neighborhood. [There are about 18 crimes per square mile in Middletown, 3 less than the Connecticut median.]
3) In terms of transportation, there is not a lot in the entirety of Middlesex County. There’s no way to avoid that. If you want to go somewhere, you have to hop on a shuttle to New Haven and then get on a train to New York City or Boston.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Apart from the bars in Middletown, there’s not a lot that the city offers for nightlife. Almost all of the nightlife is confined to campus. There is always some sort of party, concert, or event that is held that people like to go to. It’s also a very artistic campus, so there is some sort of performance or exhibit you can go to. I personally like to hang out with friends, we go to parties on campus every now and then, but we’re almost always on campus. Parties on campus are held in pretty much every time of living arrangement you can think of, so program houses, apartments, dorms, etc. Sometimes we go to Main Street with one of my friends who has a car and go to a restaurant or hang out at a bar.
What is an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
Movies are always played on campus, on the weekends especially. There is oftentimes some sort of theater performance. Like, this weekend we have art, film, and theater theses being displayed. There’s a healthy variety of things to do.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
We pretty much don’t have Greek life. We have one residential frat, DKE, and a few co-ed societies, one of which is residential. Because so few of the Wesleyan population is involved in Greek life and even fewer are involved in what is traditionally considered Greek life, people don’t pay attention to it as much. There are some parties held at some of the residential Greek societies, but not many people I know go to those. [About 7% of the student body is involved in Greek life. Wesleyan has been working to rescind DKE’s residential status.]
How happy are you with the weekend options at Wesleyan? Is there anything you would change about them if you could?
I’m very happy. I think there’s something for everybody here.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Some of them just by chance, some through the Christian community, and some through the different community service groups I’ve worked with.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
Very, very different. Really immersive. What I always tell people who are looking at Wesleyan is if you don’t want to be completely immersed in some sort of community, you shouldn’t come to Wesleyan because the only people who transfer out of this school are people who want to go to big schools. It demands a lot in terms of academics and social life. You find a group and become really close with that group. If you’d rather be a distant wallflower – not that there’s anything wrong with that – it’s not the place for you because you’re in the social scene all the time whether you want to be or not. Since everybody finds their niche, and those niches oftentimes don’t overlap, if you don’t have your niche or close group of friends, it can increase the feeling of loneliness for people.
To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Although people do intermingle and people are not confined to their racial categories, there is more of an emphasis on race. It definitely colors the interactions people have with one another. But, in no way do people segregate themselves entirely. We do have racial identity groups and program houses for certain groups that want to be part of a racially-centered community, but those students don’t exclude themselves from the rest of campus.
How would you describe the student body?
In a word, complicated. There are a lot of different student groups on campus with a lot of different sub-portions of the community, and sometimes those sub-portions are not on good terms with one another. Since it is such an intimate environment, the level at which students interact with one another is always intensified because everybody knows each other. When something happens on one side of campus it immediately becomes news on another side of campus. On the other hand, since it is such a close community, you are really able to know everyone, and that can be good or bad depending on your personality type. It’s never hard to get an introduction to somebody else because you’re never separated from another student by more than three people.
How would you describe the Christian community? How strong is it?
This is a complicated question. We have been ranked Wesleyan as the number one school with least religious students and that is definitely reflected in the religious community on campus. It is very difficult to be religious because there is a lot of spoken and unspoken anti-religious sentiment on campus, so the community here is a lot smaller than you would find at other universities. On the flip side, because the community is small, everybody knows each other very well and there is a strong sense of community and mutual support that exists. The same is true for the other religious communities except for the Jewish community, which is a bit larger.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
The alumni network is absolutely amazing here. The career center really helps out with that too. I was able to get an internship thanks to the alumni network and I’m getting one this summer as well because of it. The alumni population is small compared to the big universities, but the alumni are more open to getting students under their wing and helping them out with job searches. We have professionals in pretty much every field imaginable and I’ve never heard of anybody having trouble finding in a field that they’re interested in.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful were they?
I used it to find internships and get a better feeling about which direction I want to take in my own career trajectory and they have certainly been helpful. They have counselors with specialties in a lot of different areas, I think there’s a healthy variety, and they’ve been really helpful.
Have you learned any computer languages or software that will be helpful to you professionally?
I have taken an applied data analysis class. We have the Quantitative Analysis Center (QAC) classes. It’s a joke around campus that everybody gets a Data Analysis minor for job security. I didn’t take that because I’m not interested in going into anything related to data for my career, but it’s available and anybody can take it.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating has the office been to your needs?
I’ve found the office to be tremendously helpful. I think the financial aid office has some really friendly staff that can help you with everything you need. They have office hours where you can just walk in and it’s pretty laid back. That’s one of the great things about Wesleyan, everything is pretty laid back and you can just walk into most people’s offices.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Wesleyan before entering as a freshman?
To get involved in different groups from the very beginning to find my niche because that helps you find your core group of friends. It took me a while before I got around to that so freshman year was pretty difficult for me because I didn’t know anybody coming in and didn’t meet many people early on.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Get to know the student groups on campus that fit your interests. We all talk about how many student groups there are but it’s also important to see which groups appeal to you. In general, Wesleyan doesn’t have a lot of new things anymore, it’s mostly different forms of the same thing, so if you don’t find a club that meets your interests, you probably won’t find that group on campus.
Reasons to attend Wesleyan:
1) The small class sizes. You really get to develop a strong relationship with your professors.
2) Academically it’s superb. The classes are amazing and all the professors are really good.
3) The small size of the community. You get to find a great group of friends.
4) If you’re an artistic person, this is a great place to be.
5) The diversity of students here. We have people here from lots of different walks of life. [In the Class of 2022, 82% of students live outside of New England and 12% are international students from 63 different countries.]
Reasons to not attend Wesleyan:
1) If you don’t like to be in a close-knit environment. That is the biggest reason why people leave.
2) If you are religious, this is not the place for you if you want a thriving community. You have to make a concerted effort to practice because that is not something that espoused by the student body at large.
3) If you’re conservative and you want a strong conservative community, this is not the place. But if you want to challenge your views, this is a good place for you.