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.