Paula Robinson, class of 1999

Paula Robinson in Harambee House


In this interview, Paula Robinson, Brown University class of 1999, reflects on her time on campus in honor of her 25th reunion.

Robinson begins by sharing that she was born and raised in Jamaica until she was 11 years old at which time she and her family moved to New York City. She talks about attending public schools in Queens where she was valedictorian and a strong basketball player. She remembers learning about Brown through packets she received in the mail and being encouraged to apply by her high school guidance counselor. Robinson describes falling in love with the school and campus during Third World Weekend, a day similar to A Day on College Hill, where prospective students can learn more about Brown. She remembers a nerve-wracking interview with two alumnae in New York City as well as the excitement of receiving her acceptance packet.

Robinson reflects on Move-In Day when her basketball coach drove her to campus and helped her get settled in on the Pembroke campus in 1993. She fondly recalls participating in the Third World Transition Program as well as the difficulty of navigating classes and the pre-med track she originally planned to follow. Robinson eventually concentrated in English.

Robinson shares that she had to take a year off from school but found helpful advising and mental health resources upon her return in 1996. She also discusses the support she received from professors like Dr. Rhoda Flaxman and the Brown women’s basketball coach, Jeanine Burr. She goes on to discuss her experience on the women’s basketball team as well as her experiences working in the Rockefeller Library, the Science Library, the Gate, and the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center.

Robinson shares memories of spending time in the Third World Center and living in Harambee House, in addition to the student activism that made Harambee House possible. Continuing the topic of student activism, she recalls the significance of the Take Back the Night Movement at Brown and across college campuses, particularly after one of her friends was assaulted on campus.

In closing, she remembers the joy of her final year on campus and the excitement of graduation day. She discusses some of the teaching work she did at various schools in New England after graduation and her transition to full-time mental health counseling. Robinson describes the various ways she has remained connected to and in service to Brown and explains, “In my mind, Brown is my life, and it helped to form who I am, you know, it’s an intrinsic part of me.”


Recorded on April 19, 2024 on Zoom
Interviewed by Amanda Knox

Suggested Chicago style citation: Paula Robinson, class of 1999. Interview. By Amanda Knox. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. April 19, 2024.


Paula Robinson was born in Jamaica and lived there until she was 11 years old. She, her mother, and her brothers moved to New York City where she attended public schools in Queens. She graduated valedictorian and was a successful basketball player. She went on to attend Brown University where she earned her A.B. in English in 1999. While at Brown, Robinson enlisted in the United States Army Reserve where she served for 10 years. For many years, Robinson worked in education, 19 years as a middle school teacher, and four years teaching high school. She also coached basketball, soccer, and volleyball for several years. Currently, Robinson works as a mental health counselor in Florida, and she recently completed her doctoral degree with a focus in Traumatology. As a veteran, she works with local community organizations to provide mental health services to law enforcement, other veterans, and first responders. Robinson has a heart for helping women and children who experience trauma.