UFLi Digital Archive

Template Example

Month: November 2019 (Page 1 of 3)

Hemant Kadiamada (’20)

For our Community Narrative this week, we interviewed Hemant Kadiamada (he/him/his), a senior concentrating in Public Health and participating in Brown’s Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME). Hemant was raised in Southern California, but also considers his mother’s hometown in Mexico and his father’s hometown in India some of his homes. Read more below:

How are you? How’s your year going so far?
Right now I would say that I’m in a good place in my life. This  year is so different from any other year at Brown, and most of that difference is a lot of good. I think a big change is definitely the classes that I’m taking and the things that I’m doing. It’s a mix of classes and also projects and opportunities. It’s so easy to remind myself I’m doing this because I really like doing it. It’s so easy to bring myself happiness through the work that I’m doing.

Freshman and sophomore year, I was doing a lot of the PLME requirements. Going into Brown, I knew I wanted to pursue a medical track but I was also so young. I didn’t know a lot about what that meant. I was kind of following a premed journey. I think in that way, premeds really have a difficult time because they have to take such rigorous classes that require a lot of time.

I think medicine is so beautiful because it has this human aspect rooted into it – connecting with people, listening to people’s stories, and wanting to guide them to live a good life. That’s also why I really love Public Health. It’s really the bridge to me. I think it’s a beautiful way to remind myself that as I’m going into medicine, people are more than what goes on in their bodies. We all have journeys we go though. Those are just as, if not more, valid than the genetics or biological factors we’re born with. 

Advice you’d give your freshman year self?
I would actually say don’t be afraid to think about yourself outside of Brown and remember that the world is so big. Yes, my place here matters so much, being in school and pursuing an opportunity that is my own and is really a manifestation of what I want to do in this world, but don’t be afraid of the world around you, of experiencing new things, of possibly facing challenges.

Even if I go through something difficult, I believe that I have the strength to continue going. Even if I can’t do it on my own, I have the ability to ask for help, whether that be through family, friends, or other resources.

Who are you away from Brown?
Away from Brown, I am a person who really loves this world. When I think about the world, I think about my family. I think about where my family is. I also think about my cultures. I also really love my spirit of adventure and wanting to explore new things to really see what this life offers. 

I really like exploring the world around me and observing and listening. When I’m back home, I go on a bike ride that’s from my house to the beach, which is like 2 hours. I like going to a new area and just adventuring around, seeing new things. Away from Brown, I would say I’m someone who really values this present moment.

Jai’el Toussaint (’22)

For our Community Narrative this week, we interviewed Jai’el Toussaint (he/him/his), a sophomore from Massachusetts concentrating in Africana Studies. Read more below:

How are you? How’s your year going so far?
This year is interesting in that freshman year was hard but fun. This is one of the first years I’m concretely thinking of my future, what classes I want to take, what activities I want to be in. I’m building on stuff that existed freshman year but every day is interesting. I’m really grateful for all the friendships and bonds that I’m forming. I have a really strong friend group and support group there. I’m really happy building on that. Good, but tired.

What community at Brown has been influential in making it feel more like a home?
I think my community and a strong friend network. While I love my clubs, there’s no club where I’m like oh this is everything. I love them all but I just really admire and appreciate my friends. They’ve been there for me through good and bad days, seen me at my best and worst. I’m really happy for the friends I’ve made here and how instrumental they’ve been in helping me develop as a person.

One of your favorite memories at Brown?
During the winter of freshman year, our class coordinating board had organized an ice skating event. I had never been, literally didn’t know how to, and all my friends were like come on do it. I singed up and got a position. We all went. It was really wholesome in that I pushed myself out of a boundary I had. I was able to have fun. I didn’t fall. Also a plus in that moment was thinking these are all your friends, these are the people that love and care for you, and people who are going to push you to grow.

Advice you’d give your freshman year self?
First and foremost, take the time for yourself. It’s okay to not do everything perfect or get everything done right away. You want to space out your things and plan accordingly, but also make sure you’re taking care of yourself and getting proper sleep and nutrition. 

Who are you away from Brown?
A real family person. I would say I deeply care for members of my family. My mom and I have a really close bond. When I go home for the summer, my mom and I would watch movies or get a quick food or meal. I really like that.

Maurisa Li-A-Ping (Brown Center for Students of Color)

This week, we interviewed Maurisa Li-A-Ping (she/her/hers), the Coordinator of First-Year & Sophomore Programs at the Brown Center for Students of Color. Maurisa is from Brooklyn, NY but believes home is where you make it. Read more below:

How are you? How’s your year going so far?
My year has been really exciting. I got to launch my new program, radical FOUNDATIONS, which is a first-year program/cohort for students of color looking to do groundwork within themselves. My thought is, I want to help you see the light within yourself and help you thrive here. If there are skills you want to learn, let me help connect you to them.

This is my second year here. The first year of my job was observant. By the second year, I feel confident I can do something. I’ve really been working with the BCSC media team. I think the BCSC has a rich history but I want people to know the people who work here. I think people connect better to people versus an idea. People want to see themselves – they want to hear their stories. Social media can be really toxic but it can also be a really great way to connect people.

How do you see the programming at the BCSC in conversation with the UFLi Center? How have collaborations come about?
There are intersections between undocumented, first-generation, low income folks and folks of color. The work of it on paper shows our centers overlap because of intersectional identities. Because I am a first-generation, low-income, person of color and I come from a family of immigrants, I’m very interested in that intersection. I think what makes the work easier is when you get to know the people.

Yes, the UFLi Center has great values and the BCSC has great values. But when I got here, I built relationships with Julio and Renata. On paper our work is connected but it’s also about the way we live our lives. Yes, you can say you’re all for this but how are you living your life at the end of the day? That’s what’s really hard. 

Any collaborations coming up?
Myself, Julio, and Renata are presenting in New Orleans. The event is hosted by NASPA. It’s a student affairs association. Part of their theme this year is advancing equity and inclusive practice. Basically, me, Renata, and Julio have thought about our equity-asset based (EAB) approach. We’ve done some really great work around EAB and want to share that with our communities, whether radical FOUNDATIONS, FLiSP, UFLi, or just scholars among us. We want to highlight some of the best practices we have cultivated and the ways in which we bring in the EAB approach.

The FLiSP Scholars and radical FOUNDATIONS cohort members are also having a Providence outing together. Part of the values of radical FOUNDATIONS and FLiSP is to get students engaged to the larger Providence community. We want to get them off the hill and show them there’s so much more than Brown. What does it mean to honor the land and space to explore community in a helpful way and not exploitative way? We’ll be going to dinner at a POC-owned restaurant. Then, thinking about how art cultivates community, we want to show there are lots of folks to be in community with if folks are looking to venture outside of Brown. We’ll be taking them to Trinity Rep. 

We have another collaboration with the BCSC as a whole and the UFLi Center. Me and Olivia are going to bring our experiences in about redefining resistance at the intersection of these identities. We want to redefine what resistance looks like. You don’t always have to be showing up at rallies, protests, sit-ins. There are so many different ways to resist and so much capital we have when we enter spaces. We really want students to see the assets they bring and show them that naming those and using them can be a form of resistance.

Something you’re looking forward to?
I was talking to my friend and realized that once I graduated from graduate school, I was really tired. I had been working at such an exponentially high rate for the last 4 to 6 years that I stopped doing the things I love in a very active way. I’m excited to get back into poetry, to be performing, doing workshops and trainings for different universities and organizations. It’s something I used to do a bit more but I think I needed some time to breathe and enjoy life after all the hard work I’ve been putting in the last few years. I want to do workshops with folks, to get back out there, and be in community around different practices.

Omar Alani (’22)

For our Student Highlight this week, we interviewed Omar Alani (he/him/his), a sophomore from Malden, Massachusetts concentrating in Neuroscience. Read more below:

How are you? How’s your year going so far?
I’m doing well! This is a little different. I had surgery in August on my vocal cords to remove a cyst and since then I have been instructed not to talk. It’s genuinely a unique experience for me. Communication is much more difficult, but taking ASL this semester has taught me new ways of communication which is really fun. I’ve learned to listen more this year, something everyone should be actively practicing. That’s the only way we can learn what our family, friends, communities, etc. need. Listening to ourselves is just as important to know who we are, what our strengths are, where we can improve, to know how we can support those around us.

What does it mean to you to be UFLi?
To be UFLi means to be part of a community that uplifts one another to raise our voices and make sure we are heard. Although we may come from similar backgrounds we all have a unique story and being part of the UFLi center means our stories are heard and celebrated making us feel comfortable and welcome.

Can you tell me a bit about what you’re involved with on campus? Why are you involved with those communities?
I am involved with BRYTE, QuestBridge, PALs through Bonner, and the Muslim Student Association. I am involved with each organization because each community holds a marginalized identity where their voices are almost never heard.

Being Syrian myself and witnessing the direct effect the Syrian Crisis had on my family led me to join BRYTE to tutor refugee youth and empower them to have the ambition to use their voice.

As a QuestBridge Scholar, I understand that the voices of the low-income community are not represented enough in today’s world so I became involved to empower students like me to advocate for their rights and feel welcome in places they may have never imagined themselves to be, like Brown University. 

I work with PALs as a tutor for disabled adults because they deserve the same attention and happiness everyone else enjoys in the world and by spending quality, intimate time with them, one can truly bring positive change into their lives.

Working as in intern with the chaplain of the MSA I try to make the muslim community at Brown more diverse and inclusive to bring about different perspectives and ideas that otherwise may never been heard. In doing so, I hope to create a stronger community that empowers one another to again speak up and talk about issues that muslims face in our communities so that we can work together to solve these issues.

What community has been most influential in making Providence feel like home?
Going to my BRYTE family’s house makes me feel like I’m at home. Being able to speak arabic to my BRYTE family and share dinner with them reminded of my family. The smell of the house, the food, the people, everything reminds me of home. These refugee families that welcome us into their homes so openly and so warmly that it would make anyone feel at home.

Favorite memory at Brown?
My favorite memory at Brown would have to be when my friends surprised me with Celtics tickets on my birthday. They took me to the mall first to get me a Celtics shirt then drove me up to the game. After the game, we went out for burgers. This meant a lot to me because I never celebrated my birthday like that before. I’ll always remember that day.

Advice you’d give your freshman year self?
Do what you love and what you’re interested in because that’s the best time to explore and understand who you are as a person. Through exploration, we discover our true motivations, ambitions, and surround ourselves with the right people where everyone’s growth is mutually supported.

Kris Cho (’22)

For our Student Highlight this week, we interviewed Kris Cho (she/hers), a sophomore from Columbia, Missouri. Cho is concentrating in Public Policy and Ethnic Studies. Read more below:

How’s your year going so far?
Surprisingly okay. I’ve definitely had ups and downs but I think we’re either at net zero or net positive. I’m finally starting to put routines in my schedule and use new organizational methods that are working really well for me. That’s not to say I don’t have sophomore angst trying to navigate this institution, but I think I finally started taking care of myself in a way that’s much more intentional this year. Because of that I want to reward myself by saying I’ve been having a pretty good time. Also, I just saw my sister last weekend so that’s pretty great.

Can you tell me a bit about what you’re involved with on campus?
I’m involved with Brown Asian Sisters Empowered (BASE), a really amazing organization that really got me through my first year at Brown. It’s a really beautiful community of these incredible political Asian womxn that really just uplift each other and empower each other. I’m so so so fortunate to be part of it. 

I’m also involved with WORD! performance poetry. We are a POC/queer POC spoken word group and it’s really awesome. Also got me through my first year, also getting me through this year. I came into Brown not having done a lick of poetry and really wanting to get back to or find creative outlets. Storytelling was really important to me in a lot of different ways so I was kind of drawn to this group. It’s been really central to communities I’ve been able to find here and different outlets I’ve been able to find here. For the first time last year, I started calling myself a poet and that was really powerful. 

I also just joined the Brown Progressive Action Committee, which I have mostly interacted with via Facebook events and mobilization events that have popped up on my feed. I’m really excited for all the work that we’re doing with them. I did a lot of local politics back home in Missouri so I think especially last year I really wanted to get back to it. I think a lot of local politics is really important. There’s a lot of tangible change that comes from local politics. It gives me a sense of purpose and drive when things are happening where you can see them.

What does it mean to you to be UFLi?
I think it depends on the day. Sometimes it’s really tough, like seeing what I don’t have access to and seeing what some of my friends have access to. Sometimes it feels really heavy to know the almost invisible disparities that I know exist between me and other students, and sometimes even disparities within the community. I know and want to acknowledge that I have certain levels of privilege in this own community. I think on other days it’s really incredible to see the kind of spaces that UFLi students have created here. I am so so so grateful for the community and the love and the warmth that is so pervasive in this area and this space. Not this physical space right across from the SciLi – I feel like the SciLi radiates bad energy. Except for the 5th floor. Love you Renata and Julio. But yeah, I think the most marginalized identities come with an ability to be aware of certain things that the majority of campus is not aware of. Of course it’s frustrating sometimes, but also it’s really empowering to be like hey we have have this very important point of view that you can’t just read out of a textbook. I think that is really validating to the importance of existence. 

What community at Brown has been influential in making it feel like a home?
Honestly, to a certain extent Brown does feel more like a home than Missouri, just as a queer Asian person. Of course there are things I miss about Missouri but I think this is the first place where I’ve really been able to feel like I can be out and find spaces where I can explore what it means to be queer and Asian. I think BASE was a really great space for that just because there are so many queer Asian people who I really respect and look up to and love so so so deeply. I think Twitter also. Not going to expand on that, but Twitter.

Advice you’d give your first-year self?
It’s okay to not be okay. Transitions are really hard. You have the space to allow yourself to make mistakes, even though it feels like you can’t make those mistakes. Even though there are people that tell you you can’t make those mistakes. There are people around you and resources around you who will help you recover and grow, so it’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to not be okay.

Julio Reyes (’12) and Renata Mauriz (‘17.5)

This week, we’re introducing our newest project highlighting our collaborations with identity centers on campus. To kick off the project, we interviewed our very own Julio Reyes (he/him/his) and Renata Mauriz (she/her/hers). Reyes ’12 is the Program Director of the U-FLi Center & Mauriz ’17 is the Student Success Coordinator and works closely with the FLi Students Program (FLiSP). Read more below:

How are you? How’s your year going so far?
J: I’m doing well. I’m a little sick. It’s the end of September. I think a lot of students have been sick recently but I’m feeling good about the year ahead and all the things we’re going to be doing.

R: I’m doing well. I’m proud to have managed to not have gotten sick throughout September when everyone around me was on Vitamin C on a daily basis. I’m a little sad it’s 50 degrees today but I’m hoping my light lamp will lift up my mood.

Jumping right in, can you talk about the equity-asset-based approach and how that ties into the programming at the center?
J: An equity-asset based approach, or EAB, is doing multiple things simultaneously. I think it’s understanding that there are systemic issues and problems that impact a students ability to be here at Brown or succeed academically. It’s acknowledging the systems of oppression students might be confronting. The asset based piece says, yes we have a systemic analysis, but we also understand that regardless or maybe in spite of those challenges, students come to Brown with different strengths and values that make them stand out and help them navigate the institution. It’s what happens, unfortunately, at private elite institutions like the one we’re at right now. Some of those values U-FLi students might have aren’t normalized in our current culture. Our work is to make sure we’re helping students really understand what those strength are and helping them map that onto how they navigate Brown. 

R: And the equity aspect of this also comes in thinking about, we’re not saying things are not going to be hard, or that there are no barriers to access or to success in our community. We’re acknowledging that there are, both outside the institution as larger systems like the immigration system, the economic system, and in the institution. So we’re saying let’s work with administrators to assess what those barriers are on a more systemic level instead of creating band-aid solutions.

How do you see the programming at the UFLi center in conversation with the programming of other identity centers? How have past collaborations come about?
R: Part of shifting away from doing our programming as a center individually has been really critically thinking about the experiences students hold and the identities they bring once they enter Brown through an intersectional lens. A student may come into Brown, maybe queer, maybe low-income, maybe first-gen, maybe a person of color — why should our programming not reflect that intersectionality with their identities and experiences?

J: I think by having us think very intentionally about the concept of intersectionality, but also intersectional identities, we understand that people come with different experiences and backgrounds but also understand the ways in which oppression underlies all of that. I think it’s been important for us to look at how we’re providing avenues or platforms for people who sit at the margins of communities. So you’ll notice that a lot of our programming does center queer and trans people of color. Not always, but that’s where we’re focusing our work right now. We’re making sure we’re highlighting different experiences and the work of different people who are doing interesting things, either at Brown or elsewhere. Then we also have the opportunity to collaborate with other centers that have similar social justice values that we do and want to work really intentionally on these projects.

R: It all starts with relationships as well. Julio and I try to be very intentional about actually getting to know other staff that we’re collaborating with and even ask does this idea feel good for us to do as a team? Not necessarily doing something because we feel like we have to but doing something that’s also thinking about ourselves and what we’re bringing but also what we’re taking from an experience together.

What are you hoping to see in this year’s programming?
J: We have ideas. We haven’t necessarily sat down and determined exactly what we’re going to do and who we’re going to invite. We’re really thinking about issues related to class, but also things that impact immigrant communities. We want to do it in a way that also centers the idea of creation. What are people having to create due to whatever circumstances they’re living in? I think that really does speak to an EAB approach. Yes, there are systemic issues in the problem but there are people in the world that fall within particular identities that we work with under the U-FLi center that are cultivating communities or creating new programs or creating new initiatives or creating things as artists that are counter to some of these trauma narratives we’re so used to hearing about working class immigrant communities. That’s kind of what we want to focus on this year.

R: I think starting with the three DJs that we brought to campus was a way for us to think about the folks sitting at the margins in specific industries as well. We invited them not necessarily for them to speak about their experiences as queer undocumented women of color, but for them to speak about how have they, despite of all of the lack of access to opportunities, how have they created the spaces and the opportunities and the work that enables them to thrive through a creative lens. It’s putting out there different forms of resistance and different ways of being in relationship with one another and creating and working that are conducive to the type of world we want to live in.

Something you’re looking forward to?
J: I’m looking forward to connecting with more students and seeing the center grow. By that I mean the amount of engagement we see with students. We’ve already seen an increase just this past month but I’m excited to see where we go with that, how we can connect with more first year students and get to know them, and hearing what students might want and need from the center.

R: Similarly to Julio, I do look forward to continuing to cultivate genuine relationships with students and being someone who I wish I had a relationship with when I was a student. In a lot of ways I’ve been able to do a 360. As I was a student struggling at some point in this university, now I have an opportunity to be on the other side of things and be a system of support, not just in times of crises but also in times of joy and celebration. So I’m looking forward to creating more spaces for joy among our student population like our block party. I’m looking forward to taking over more spaces where I see laughter and see community happening in real time.

Santi Hernandez (’21)

This week, we interviewed Santi Hernandez (they/them), a junior from Los Angeles, CA, for our weekly student highlight series. Hernandez is concentrating in Public Health & Ethnic Studies. They are involved with the Queer Alliance (QA), Nurturing Alignment through the Brown Center for Students of Color (BCSC), The Next Thing (TNT), and Bonner Community Fellows through the Swearer Center. Read more below:

How’s your semester so far?
Where do I even start? I think this semester, I don’t know what about it, but I’ve been reflecting a lot and reevaluating, especially because I’ve hit the halfway mark of Brown. I’ve kind of gotten into a half-college-crisis of what I’ve done these past few years, how I’ve grown these past few years, and what I want to accomplish in the rest of my time here. So it’s really daunting to think about but I think it’s forced me to reevaluate how I want to spend the rest of my time here and how I want to be present.

What are you most excited for this semester?
I’m really excited for two things: The Next Thing, which we call TNT, and Nurturing Alignment. Aquielle, the other TNT coordinator, has been putting in a lot of work to really build up the community of queer and trans people of color on campus and to make our presence visible. I’m really excited to support her in that. For me, my role is more of support because Aquielle is really taking on the work of planning meetings and holding space, whether it’s just to build community and make ourselves known and seen and really affirming each other.

For Nurturing Alignment, they’re focusing on specific skills that are applicable. We’re putting into practice making practical tools that you can use whether in this community or through skill building workshops. One that’s coming up is on how to build boundaries. Others we’re exploring are how to address harm, how to get more in tune with your body and with your emotions.

Favorite memory at Brown?
I think I’ve had this moment with a lot of people, but it’s been the one on one conversations that have really been an a-ha moment. That’s the best way I can explain it – kind of like an epiphany. Those one on one conversations where I learned something about myself and learned something about another person. I feel like those talks have especially shaped the way that I move around at Brown. I think I’m not a person that thrives in big groups, so I would say it’s not one favorite memory because right now I can think to a couple people that I talked to that have really changed my perception in some way.

Advice you’d give your freshman year self?
Oof — I feel like if I’m giving real advice, it might be something along the lines of, things are going to be shitty and the transition is going to be ugly but know that all these obstacles are going to help you grow in the long run. Most of all, be gentle with yourself. I think that’s something I’ve been telling all my friends when I give advice. I say you have to be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself the way you treat other people. I find I’m more hard on myself so take things day by day, week by week.

I think if I had just been patient, not rushing growth, I think I could have been in a much better headspace. I think that would be my overarching advice: don’t rush growth. 

Agnes Tran (’22)

We’re excited to share we’ll be continuing U-FLi student highlights into the new academic year! For our first highlight of the semester, we interviewed Agnes Tran (she/her/hers), a sophomore from Covina, CA. Tran is considering Public Policy/Econ or International and Public Affairs as her concentration. She is also a member of IMPULSE Dance Company, Vietnamese Students Association, and a writer for Visions Magazine. She’s also looking to interview UFLi students as her project for the Storytellers for Good Fellowship. Read more below:

How are you? How’s your semester so far?
I’m good. I think it’s been pretty good. Mainly getting into the groove of doing school work after a summer of not reading. This summer, I interned at a multimedia journalism company in Vietnam. About 90% of my time was spent translating articles into English. I can’t read Vietnamese so I spent a lot of time on Google Translate.

Can you tell me a bit about what you’re involved with here at Brown?
On campus, I’m part of IMPULSE Dance Company so I dance a lot with them. I’m also on the academic proposal team for the Southeast Asian Studies Initiative and part of the Vietnamese Students Association. Sometimes I write for Visions Magazine. 

This year, I’m on the board for IMPULSE. I’m the Community Chair. Technically I’m in charge of workshops so I thought I should try to lead some of them. Last Saturday was my first time doing it. It was very scary but probably one of the most memorable things I’ve done at Brown so far.

Why did you audition for IMPULSE?
I saw IMPULSE before ADOCH and I really remember thinking this is the kind of school I want to go to. In auditions, I came in with the mindset that it was a workshop so I wouldn’t be too stressed about it.

I heard you’re also working on a storytelling project. Can you tell me more about it?
Students are able to apply through the Swearer Center with project ideas so mine was talking about first-gen low-income narratives at Brown or other elite institutions. It’s a year long project. You can write, make a podcast, use photography, or video.

I really like writing and I wanted to use storytelling as a venue for social change and policy. I feel like a lot of students at Brown aren’t familiar with FLi narratives so maybe this would help bridge the gap between those two groups.

I’m looking for anyone who’s interested in sharing stories. If anyone has any experiences they’d be comfortable sharing, I’d love to talk them.

What does it mean to you to be UFLi?
I think it means being resilient and resourceful. Being a part of two worlds and knowing how to navigate that. I think a lot of it is remembering who helped you get here, why you’re still here, and the people in your life that have shaped you for the better – and for me it’s family.

Lastly, advice you’d give your freshman year self?
You’re not going to be a neuroscientist – or anything related to STEM. You need to breathe because you still have 3 years to figure things out.

Morgan Brinker (’21)

Our last UFLi highlight for the semester is with Morgan Brinker (she/her/hers), a rising junior concentrating in Health and Human Bio. She is from Merrillville, Indiana. Read our interview below:

How’s your sophomore year going?
I’ve been grateful for the opportunities I had this year. I think I had this in the first half, kind of in the second half, but it allowed me to build on the lessons I learned my first year.

How has your perception of Brown changed since last year?
I think the lovely parts wore off of this place, being like wow everything is perfect and it’s like Disney World. I appreciate that it comes with its ups and downs and challenges. While this place wasn’t designed for me, I can be an agent of change.

What’s something you wish you could tell your freshman year self?
Stop trying to be perfect. You don’t have to prove yourself to any other people. I struggled a lot with imposter syndrome. But those people I thought about don’t pay for my tuition, they’re not me, so why should I worry about what they think? You’ve got to focus on yourself sometimes. 

Who’s an influential person in your life right now?
Dr. Rudnicki from the chemistry department. When I felt I was so disadvantaged coming to chemistry, I feel like she really said okay, you may have had those disadvantages in the past but we’ll try to catch you up. She kicked out people who were taking the class but knew the materials. She’s written letters of recommendation for me, and we have breakfast sometimes.

What’s your favorite part of your concentration?
I like how I can focus on a certain part of my concentration, like a theme, and really allow myself to explore things outside of biology. It also lets me look at health and medicine from an interdisciplinary perspective. I came in as biology and english because I didn’t know if I wanted to be premed or prelaw, and I also thought the only way to take an interdisciplinary approach was to keep them separate. I didn’t know I could combine them under one concentration. 

I don’t know if they told me specifically, but I remember my RPL, Gabriel, telling me about health and human bio. Someone also told me about Focal Point, so I looked through the Health and Human Bio page. It really encouraged me to explore.

AJ Clifforde Alcover (’20)

This week, we interviewed AJ Clifforde Alcover (he/him or they/them), a junior from Hawaii. AJ is concentrating in Health and Human Bio. Read our conversation below:

How’s your junior year going?
It was definitely rough for the majority of 2018. It was just not the best mental health wise but I told myself to change my attitude over winter break, which I think helped in the beginning. I was really happy at the beginning of 2019, but things come up. Exams don’t get the best, grades go down – so that happened. Now I’m like, this semester needs to be over.

I think hanging out with friends, being more proactive in
trying to connect with people, seeing friends I haven’t seen in a while – that has really helped in trying to stay positive.

What community at Brown has been most influential in making it feel like home?
I think it’s pretty hard to answer that because there are so many different humans that provide support in different aspects. For example, the Filipino Alliance, especially my first year, was very influential because it allowed me to connect with other Filipino folk at Brown. But I also find community with first-gen low-income people and people of color generally, and also those with identities of queerness. I think all my friends are queer. I also find community in people that don’t always share identities with me, not in the sense that I can relate to them, but they don’t always have to talk about the problems I face. I find that in some spaces we focus so much on our problems and experiences, but I’d rather we also give time to support solution-based strategies.

Organizations have limitations in lots of places, but having more time in conversation with each other about the amazing things we have – an asset-based approach. I want to try to change the conversation and branch out a bit because sometimes we get so against this institution. Yes we’re at this institution, and yes it’s not great for us, but we can still learn and take from it.

How has your perception of Brown changed over the years?
I was so much more happy at first. I felt like my horizons were wider, not because of opportunity or positionality or privilege from the Brown degree, but I was more excited and more creative. I was allowed to do what I wanted to do.

Brown kind of brings you this mentality of, wow you’re kind of worthless if you don’t get certain grades, you have to do this if you want to succeed, and it takes away from the creativity of students and makes you forget how you got in here. I think Brown tells you all of these things that affect certain groups of people a lot more because they don’t have as much capital in certain aspects of their life. For us, it’s like, oh we don’t have money. All of that is already pushing us down, and Brown is adding all these extra pressures.

I will say though that I’m very happy to see that there are minority, PoC, indigenous professors. It’s good to see a good community with those professors. There is some support within faculty, but there aren’t enough of them. 

Favorite part of your concentration? 
For me, it’s the ability to incorporate humanities in there. I think everyone needs to have a humanities part to their education, and humanities in different aspects – religious studies, sociology, ethnic studies. I like having the freedom to add certain humanities courses.

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén