Sebastián Castro Niculescu, class of 2020


In this interview, then Brown and RISD Dual-Degree student Sebastián Castro Niculescu discusses her experience growing up in and around Queens, New York, her childhood education, admittance to Brown-RISD, and social life around the turn of the Trump Administration.

The child of an Ecuadorian immigrant and Romanian refugee, Niculescu begins by detailing how she identifies with child-of-immigrant narratives. She describes working extremely hard in grade school, middle, and high school in mathematics. Niculescu then describes finding British and New York punk music (and, subsequently, contemporary punk venues) as a release from tough academic expectations and bullying in school. A trans woman, Niculescu describes “not having time to think about queerness” as a child and defaulting to a gay identity to express herself.

After learning about the Brown and RISD Dual Degree Program from her guidance counselor, Niculescu decided to attend. Originally studying mathematics at Brown, she describes how a switch to the Humanities proved no less rigorous than STEM. Specifically, she concentrated in Ethnic Studies at Brown.

As interviewer Mary Murphy inches closer to 2016/2017, she asks Niculescu to describe the day after Election Day 2016 and the subsequent protests. Niculescu remembers going to an Intro to Latino Cultural Studies during which the professor led the students in discussing the circumstances of the election and allowed students to vent their fears for the future in a group setting. Niculescu then expresses trepidation about the Women’s March as a declawed version of more radical action in the wake of the Trump election.

The interview concludes with, first, a commentary on “callout culture” at Brown in the late 2010s and, finally, a mention of student sex workers at Brown. According to Niculescu, the resources at Brown can’t account for nor provide adequate resources for the prevalence of student sex work.


Recorded on March 16, 2019 in Alumnae Hall, Brown University, Providence, RI
Interviewed by Mary Murphy, Nancy L. Buc ’65 LLD‘94 hon Pembroke Center Archivist and Amanda Knox, Pembroke Center Assistant Archivist

Suggested Chicago style citation: Niculescu, Sebastián Castro. Interview. By Mary Murphy and Amanda Knox. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. March 16, 2019.


Sebastian Castro Niculescu is a trans Latina writer, artist, organizer/curator and performer from the NYC metropolitan area. She graduated from the Brown-RISD Dual Degree Program with an A.B. in Ethnic Studies from Brown and a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in sculpture from RISD. Originally from Queens and Hicksville, New York, Niculescu recalls first coming to Brown and RISD with the intention to pursue a mathematics degree. As her coursework developed she moved to pursue Ethnic Studies for its resonance with real-world experience. During her time in Providence, Niculescu pursued activism, conference opportunities to present her work, and an internship with the Pembroke Center Oral History Project.