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Month: November 2019 (Page 2 of 3)

Loretta Eboigbe (’20)

This week, we interviewed Loretta Eboigbe (she/hers), a junior concentrating in psychology. Loretta was born in Italy but currently lives in New York. She identifies as Nigerian. Read our conversation below:

How are you? How’s your junior year?
My junior year is going well. I feel like it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do. I felt like I could connect that with my interests as a person – it’s been really nice seeing how psychology manifests in different parts of my interests.

I’ve been working on movement art, dance, and that’s been really exciting for me. Thinking about different things I can do to remain well and healthy. I’m definitely trying to prioritize things that make me happy and incorporate them as much as I can instead of making them an add-on or after thought. Institutions like this make it seem like there’s only one way to succeed and thrive. The most important thing I want to take from here is knowing what to do when things get difficult, and not relying on toxic behaviors. I feel much happier during my junior year. I’m in a better mindset of, okay the future is going to be okay and I’m going to be okay.

Something you wish you could tell your freshman year self?
I would tell my freshman year self to give people chances and give myself a chance to know more. I feel like college, especially freshman year, is very idealized. You’re going to find your best friend, and fall in love, and these things may happen temporarily or not at all. I feel like when you have moments with people you might think, these are my people for life, and not to discredit that – because it happens and it’s super great – but there’s still a need to put myself out there, to stop idealizing and not listen as much to the idealized version of what college is supposed to be.

What’s your favorite memory of Brown?
Something that I want to take away from my time at Brown is the experience of dancing with people. Freshman year, I used to dance on the Main Green a lot with my friends. We had so much energy, and I found different spaces through dance groups, attending workshop, classes that incorporate a dance portion. Now I’m doing a free form, not any specific group but trying to make sure I’m putting myself out there. I just went to a salsa social. I love freely dancing with people and just enjoying each other. We talk with our bodies, and the energies we radiate off each other – that’s been my favorite part. I’m realizing that’s a big part of my identity because I’ve been dancing for a long time but never anything formally.

What community at Brown has been most influential in making it feel like home?
I think the MPCs I met during TWTP who are now graduating. I’m going to their graduation. I feel like I met so many of them who literally led the way for me in being a leader and what it means to be a caring and thoughtful leader. I’ve seen them wear different caps, and being there for me when they weren’t required to. They also provided the space for me to be vulnerable and break down when I needed to in the most dramatic way possible.

The Bonner program is another community. Being in that space was really great because it gave me an intentional space to think about what it means to be involved with community engagement and community change, to work with students who are working toward that mission, and it gave us space to talk about our experiences of being here. That was one of the initial communities that shaped the way I think about how I want to be involved with communities outside of my own personal interests.

Andrew Castillo (’20)

This week, we interviewed Andrew Castillo (he/him), a junior from Los Angeles, CA concentrating in Public Policy and Sociology. Read our conversation below:

How is your junior year going?
Well to start, last semester I was doing the Brown in Washington program. The main reason I did it was because I was stuck between doing econ and public policy, and I think being in D.C. really helps you get views of both sides. I worked with Senator Reed of Rhode Island. That whole experience – taking classes there, working on the hill, meeting so many incredible people – made me realize I wanted to go into policy.

Favorite memory during your time at Brown?
If I had to pick one, I’d say my best semester was in D.C. I think it was when, on the final day of working at Senator Reed’s office, they told the interns to go deliver a present because we were doing secret santa. We get to this room, drop off the present, and there are more than 30 senators. You see Kamala Harris grabbing a present and dipping, Ted Cruz in the corner. I had so much appreciation for that moment because not many people can say I saw so and so senators, or have the opportunity to be in a place that holds so much power. It was a good reflection of how far I’ve come.

Who is the most influential person in your life?
My parents. I don’t think I realized how much they’ve sacrificed for me, like the after school programs they enrolled me in. I could stay and do homework and play but looking back, part of that was due to them having to work to support the family. 

My parents are from Ecuador, and I’m realizing the importance and value of family has motivated me to try harder. I feel like in high school I thought I just have to try hard to go to college. But now that I’m in college I’m like why do I have to do well? Do I have to stay up late to do this assignment? So much has gone into me being here, but I’m finding inner motivation to stay.

Favorite part of your concentration?
I think my favorite part has been the way I ended up deciding public policy. I went to after school programs when I was little and that motivated me to give back to them, so I volunteered there. Working with early childhood education motivated me to intern with the program that I had been with over the summer. I started getting involved with nonprofit work. As much as they can impact students’ lives, there are so many resources that they don’t have. That’s when I started working with policy because it felt like that’s where real change happens. You can volunteer at after school programs, but policy changes structures. Washington D.C. helped me recognize the power of policy and working on different bills.

Bruno Felalaga (’20)

This week, we interviewed Bruno Felalaga (he/him/his), a junior from Accra, Ghana studying electrical engineering. Read his interview below:

Do you remember your first day at Brown? What was that experience like?
My first day at Brown was my first time in the states. I got here at night. I was super tired. I couldn’t even hold a long conversation with Gabriel [my roommate] but in the morning I was so excited about getting to Brown and meeting people. I walked around Providence and the mall and went to Walmart with Alan. He was so nice. He was the very first friend besides my roommate that I made. We spent the whole day walking around. Because I came here early for Excellence at Brown, no one was here so we walked around the city, and we talked about so many things. It was so nice to meet him and Gabriel.

Brown was my very first exposure to the US. Since then, I haven’t seen much of the states or what’s outside of Brown. My window to what the US is like is mostly what I see at Brown and on social media.

Who is the most influential person in your life?
At different points in my life, I have different people, but I think my mother has always been that person. She’s just a combination of humble and generous, and it’s very inspiring. Once she sets her mind to do something, she’ll do anything to make it happen, especially for us, the kids.

Currently, there’s a really young professor of Biostats named Lorin Crawford. He’s just life goals, and he’s really young as well. He’s young, black, and a professor before 30. He’s really inspiring – the kind of work he’s doing and the kinds of fellowships he already has.

Favorite part of your concentration? What led you to it?
With electrical engineering, it’s very hands on and we get to practice what we learn. There are classes but also labs, a lot of labs, which might be too much but I like that they try to make it hands on. It lets us use our fingers to use what we actually learn. The engineering department has changed a lot in the last couple of years. It looks a lot better and fancier. The professors are very approachable and it’s easy I think to get connected with most of the professors in the concentration.

When I came to Brown, I was biomedical engineering. I had no idea what I wanted to do coming to Brown. I just figured, I wanted to be a doctor ever since I was a kid. In Ghana, after high school, you can go straight to med school. It wasn’t like you had to be a pre-med student before you can be a doctor. Here it’s a different system. You have to be pre-med, go to med school, residency, and I don’t have time for that.

So I decided to study biomedical and still be pre-med just in case I want to go to med school, and then I realized after my freshman year that I’m really not a pre-med kid. I found courses for electrical so much more fun and hands-on, and very intriguing to me.

What community at Brown has been most influential in making it feel like home?
I’m part of the Brown/RISD Catholic Community. I come from a very religious background – everyone in Ghana is religious, so finding a community like that here would help me grow as a person and find people who are similar to me. I thought a community like that would help me stay with the faith I want to keep.

Peter Simpson (’20)

This week, we interviewed Peter Simpson (he/him), a junior from New York City concentrating in History and Africana Studies. Read our conversation below:

How are you? How’s your junior year going?
I’ve been good. Over all my year has been pretty good. A bit more preprofessional than previous years, in terms of senior year and graduation.

Where are you studying abroad and why did you choose to go there?
I’m in Cape Town, South Africa. I chose to come here because I had never been to the continent of Africa before. I also study history with a focus on Africa, and so in terms of my concentration, it made sense as well.

Favorite part of your concentrations? What led you to your concentrations?
I took a history class my freshman year about South African history and I realized I wanted to learn more about history through Africana Studies. My favorite part of both departments is how committed they are to their students. It’s great that the teachers know your name and follow up, and say hey I haven’t seen you around what’s up? I love the commitment of the teachers to me and what I’m interested in.

Something you wish you could tell your freshman year self?
I wish I could tell myself to be more patient with myself in terms of finding out what my interests actually were, and to reach out to professors. Reach out more in terms of general support; in terms of faculty, friends, organizations, and people who are receptive to who I am as a person and what I bring to spaces.

What community at Brown has been most influential in making it feel like home?
These people fit into lots of different communities, but the first program is the Bonner program. Most people I hang out with are UFLi students from the BCSC, but having an intentional program and weekly meetings made us closer. I think it’s hard to find community sometimes at Brown, especially as a new place, but that helped.

Gabriel González (’20)

This week, we interviewed Gabriel González (they/them or he/him), a junior from South Gate, CA concentrating in Health and Human Bio. Gabriel is also a PLME (Program in Liberal Medical Education) student. Read our conversation below:

How’s your junior year going?
I don’t know how she’s doing right now. I’m kind of doing okay in two classes. I understand what’s going on, but with orgo right now, it’s just not fun and very stressful. I feel like I’m constantly playing this catch up game with all the classes, though I technically do now what I’m doing. But it doesn’t really feel like that so it’s kind of just like the shrug emoji ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  

But things are exciting too because ever since my first year, my relationship with my family has gotten much better. My parents are trying to figure out how to deal with their discomfort with me being gay and preferring feminine things. I’m still able to talk to them so that’s good. Now I’m thinking about the real possibilities of studying abroad and doing research over the summer and thinking of doing a thesis. Things are exciting, but kind of weird.

Favorite memory during your time at Brown?
One option is finally seeing CupcakKe with friends. Also, during this past TWTP, seeing all the queer and trans people, especially those of color, seeing them come in – it’s something that gave me life and still does.

How has your perception of Brown changed over the years?
Lol. I first thought I understood that Brown is this really rich, fancy place with lots of white people, lots of wealth, but I didn’t realize the extent of it. Some of it is nice. It’s nice to say you go to an Ivy League, but it’s still kind of strange.

With regards to PLME, I thought there would be more PLMEs who were or are U-FLi, who hold stigmatized identities instead of upper middle class students whose parents are doctors. I thought I would be seeing less of them, so I guess it’s something that’s been weird for me to navigate. That’s why it’s all the more important to make sure FURM is still going strong since it’s inception last semester, after lots of student stress, advocacy, and push back from administration.

Favorite part of your concentration? What led you to it?
It’s really flexible. I think it’s really flexible and I’m able to combine what I think is important to prepare me to become a physician down the road and advocate for queer and trans people. My interests are focused on queer and trans health, and why providers are causing negative experiences for these people.

What community at Brown has been most influential in making it feel like home?
I feel like my close circle of friends is U-FLi, QTs of color. They make me feel validated, affirmed, loved, all this good stuff, and I really appreciate them for that.

Who is the most influential person in your life? 
She’s not at Brown, but she’s really been a role model for me. Her name is Berenice Estrada. She’s from Huntington Park in California. The amount of resilience she carries with her is really striking for me. I know it’s really corny and everything but her mind is literally like, ugh, I can’t. She’s great.

Zuhal Saljooki (’21)

This week, we interviewed Zuhal Saljooki (she/her), a sophomore from Long Island concentrating in Computer Science. Read our interview below:

Do you remember your first day at Brown? What was the experience like?
My first day at Brown, moving in, was such a trip because I had been looking forward to that day essentially my whole life.

My entire family comes to move me in, all the other kids are with their moms and dads, and with me it was the whole setup. We had to borrow a mini van because I had so much stuff. As a first-gen low-income student, I had no conception of what it was like to live in a dorm or be in college so I overpacked a lot.

When my family left, I was on my own. My window was open and it was gorgeous and beautiful outside. But I was so confused on my first day.

What should I do first, do I take a shower? My first hour of freedom. I could hear the noises of everyone else outside, interacting. I remember being paranoid, thinking oh my god am I not going to make friends, is this what college is going to be like, am I just going to be in this room forever? I walked outside, and there was a circle of kids, so we all got dinner together.

Something you wish you could tell your freshman year self?
It’s okay to not finish things. You’re not a quitter if you leave something because you don’t like it. It doesn’t mean you’re a quitter, it means you’ve learned enough about something that you can make an informed decision.

I was an engineering concentrator my first year at Brown and I stuck with it because I thought it was what made a winner, but I was just making myself unhappy.

I’d also tell myself that Brown is not what you think it is. It’s not the cool liberal Ivy. It was not built for you — it was built for people who are not UFLi, not a person of color. It wasn’t built for me and I had to figure out how to go about Brown in my own way. I thought I was going to be much more supported. But there’s so much I had to face about myself, about the world, that I thought I’d known.

Favorite part of your concentration? What led you to it?
In my engineering classes, even among all those amazing minds and people, I was one of the only ones that would get a perfect score of close to perfect score on the computer science portion and tank the physics portion, so that decision kind of came on its own.

I was taking material science and CS17 my first semester of sophomore year. I hated every minute of material science and I would do my computer science homework as a way to procrastinate my material science homework.

I feel like in the CS department, they’re starting to make more moves for students with mental health issues. Now they’re also making more moves for UFLi students, and I just feel way more supported in the department.

Georgeara Castañeda (’21)

This week, we interviewed Georgeara Castadeña (she/they), a sophomore concentrating in Religious Studies. Read our conversation below:

How’s your sophomore year going?
Oof. It’s going. I think my sophomore year has been a lot of ups and downs, mainly downs, but I’m very proud of myself for being here and for getting through what I’ve been getting through. A lot of the times it’s easier said than done. I’m still learning to take my own advice.

How was your first year at Brown?
There was a lot of culture shock, a lot of adjusting. I remember just wanting to go home but after a while, finding mariachi and other things, I thought wow okay maybe Brown can be a home. My first year was full of a lot of growth. It was a very hard time but I managed to get through it.

Something you wish you could tell your freshman year self?
I wish I could tell her it’s going to be okay. I really need her to hear the words. I didn’t think it was going to get better but I managed to get through it and here I am. There’s a lot waiting for you.

How has your perception of Brown changed over time?
I never imagined Brown to be a perfect place, but especially with the Granoff article coming out, hearing the struggles of the UFLi community and other marginalized communities, I’ve come to realize Brown really is something. Brown has given me a lot of opportunities but there’s still so much Brown could do for us. I’m disappointed but not surprised. 

Where have you found community on campus?
I started doing Mariachi my first semester. I think it was the first club that actually made me feel at home. I think the first practice we sang Cielito Lindo and I almost started crying. It made me think, okay Brown can have parts of home.

Maria Nicole Bolaños (’21)

Last week, we met with Maria Nicole Bolaños (’21), an Education Studies concentrator, to ask about her time at Brown. Read our interview below.

Do you remember your first day at Brown? What was the experience like?
I had just arrived from LA, 2000 or more miles away. I got here on my own with two large luggages and a small carry on and backpack. I remember struggling to pull all my luggage down Thayer St. When I got to my dorm, my roommate was already there. Her parents had helped her unpack and I remember missing my mom a lot when I saw that.

On my first day of classes, I remember the culture shock because I had already visited the campus before once with a college access program but it was only for a couple of hours. On the first day of classes, when everything picked up and the entire school population arrived, it was super overwhelming. 

I also remember grabbing dinner with Delmy. I remember seeing her at the Ratty and I was so happy because she was the only person that looked like me and I felt so comfortable around her, I asked if I could sit down with her and eat with her. We spent the entire night talking about how much we missed home already.

Favorite memory at Brown?
When Mariachi de Brown had a performance and played Amor Eterno. Me, Delmy, Diana, Cindy, and Idalmis went together. We were all super emotional because it sounded like home and we all started crying. That moment was really special, it reminded me of family and culture all in one song.

Something you wish you could tell your freshman year self?
To not be afraid to take up space that’s rightfully mine — I used to be so frightened to speak up in any class first semester. I hardly ever spoke up, hardly ever raised my hand, hardly ever participated because I felt so nervous and wasn’t sure if I would sound smart or have the proper vocabulary — and hearing everyone else talk, the jargon, it was intimidating and it would discourage me from participating.

Looking back at it, I wish I would have because I really did have so much to contribute. I could have offered insights as a PoC, first-gen low income student. I could offer insights that others couldn’t have but I didn’t realize how much power I had until recently.

Roberto Castro (’22)

Last but not least, we interview Roberto Castro. He’s from LA and plans to concentrate in Chemical Engineering. Check out his interview below:

Favorite class you’re taking this semester? Why?
I do like math, so that’s probably my favorite class. I know people are gonna be like how? But it’s one of the easier classes I’m taking, and I like the people in the class.

What are you currently looking forward to?
Recently, being here at Brown, it opened my mind. Realizing the potential that someone has within a community, not just as an individual, gave me a sense of what I can do outside of academics. 

One thing I want to get engaged with that I couldn’t get engaged with back home is going out to schools and tutoring students. It’s harder at home, because you need the mission, but here it’s already set. 

Favorite place on campus?
This greenhouse is really nice. It reminds me of home.

Adrianna Maxwell (’22)

Our penultimate interview this week: Adrianna Maxwell, a student from Chicago. She intends to study International Relations and Health and Human Bio. Read more below:

Favorite class you’re taking this semester? Why?
Surprisingly, it’s been Intro to Poetry. It’s my favorite class because I like how free the class is. All of my other classes are very constructed. Poetry is something I’ve always wanted to do but never explored and this class gave me the opportunity to explore those interests that I never had the time to delve into.

Why did you decide to apply to FLiSP?
I decided to apply because I knew that when I came to Brown I’d need a community I could relate to and talk about our experiences and have someone who would just know my situation. 

The workshops have been helped me navigate Brown’s resources. The conversation with CAPS was also helpful. I think there’s a stigma around mental health and the workshops have been helpful in teaching us how to reach out. Julio and Renata are really good people. They really do extend themselves for us.

Favorite place on campus?
The RISD library. I go to Shiru the most but if the RISD library was closer, I’d definitely go there more often.

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