Why Hopkins: JHU_Noah

Posted by | Posted on March 30, 2011


Get to Know JHU_Noah:

Hometown: Houston, Texas


Repping my beloved Houston Oilers (R.I.P) at all of 2.5 years old...That Hopkins blue was a sign...

Majors: Molecular & Cellular Biology and Neuroscience
When I grow up, I want to: donate a building to the University, or have an endowed scholarship with my name on it––I just want to be able to give back to the University that has given me so much, but in style!
Favorite place to eat in Baltimore: Woodberry Kitchen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2fp6K8vMsc)
Favorite spot on the Homewood campus: DA BEACH :)
Favorite TV Show: Ahh! It’s a tie between How I Met Your Mother, House, The Big Bang Theory, Skins (UK) and The West Wing.
Favorite Colors: Sky Blue and Black! Go Hop!
Favorite Sports Team: Johns Hopkins Men’s Soccer

The fam (minus a few)

My Hopkins Experience:

When did you know Hopkins was right for you? The very moment I stepped on campus for the first time. As soon as I discovered and started reading about Hopkins, I loved it. But I hadn’t fully committed to it in my head until I came to visit Homewood. I explored a bit on my own first, and then took the best college tour ever. Done deal. Go Hop.

Clubbing with my amazing cohost, Lucie Fink, and the film prodigy duo John Belanger and Shayna Bordy (they, along with Joju Varghese and Peter Bai, are responsible for filming, editing and producing all the incredible videos about Hopkins, including "Learn More, See More, B'more"!

What is one thing that would surprise your friends/family about Hopkins? Well, at the risk of being cliché, I think that my friends and family would be surprised to hear that Hopkins isn’t cutthroat AT ALL. It’s probably the most friendly and collaborative community I’ve ever been been a part of.

If you were University President, what is the first thing you would do or change? I would make Chemistry Lab worth 2 credits. That class is way too much work to be worth one credit. On the other hand, it’s kind of a rite of passage, so maybe it’s just better to trudge through for only one credit just to say you did. Oh, I know: I would allot institutional funds for summer financial aid, so undergrads could get important prerequisites like Organic Chemistry out of the way without emptying their pockets or forcing them to take out another loan.

Hanging out with some friends after a party thrown by the JOSH fusion dance group!

If you could go back and choose your college again, would you pick Hopkins? Why? Of course, in half a heartbeat. Hopkins has lived up to all of my expectations and then some. The Molecular & Cellular Biology and Neuroscience programs are amazing. I’m so happy with my choice.

What was your perception about Hopkins before enrolling and how has it changed since then? Honestly, I was shocked at how many people thought that there was a lack of social life at Hopkins! The only story I had heard about Hopkins (other than from Hopkins Interactive) before coming here was a cautionary tale about a friend’s brother partying too hard, failing a class required for his major, and not getting his diploma until the summer after all the other seniors had graduated! So I came in with the mindset that I was going to have to make an effort to keep my partying to a minimum! At Hopkins, we definitely play hard, but it’s okay because we work harder. :)

Proving that (for the purposes of the Schrödinger Equation, at least) the wavefunction of an electron can be described just as well by a sinusoidal wave offset by a half-period as it can by an unaltered sinusoidal wave is a perfectly legitimate way to spend a Saturday night...LOL JOKES don't ever do this...(it was a bad idea...)

What is/was your favorite class? Introduction to Neuroscience with Professor Hendry. It’s one of the Neuro classes that Freshmen can take during the fall semester. It’s not required, but I highly recommend it.

Describe your funniest memory or experience at Hopkins: This is a hard one for two reasons. Firstly, there are too many to choose from. Secondly, most of them would only be funny if you were there or understand a lot of the campus inside jokes. But probably the funniest moment I can think of on the spot is when one of the Neuroscience professors, Dr. Linda Gorman, during a seminar about alcohol and drugs, spoke of the dangers of abusing psychostimulants like Ritalin and what to do when you feel extremely stressed out: “When you feel like you’re so stressed that you can’t stand it any more, and you have been working nonstop, and you just need to do something stupid to get your mind off things, don’t do drugs…DRINK!!!” Good times. Gotta love her.

How would your college experience be different if you hadn’t chosen Hopkins? I can’t speak to what I’d have now if I had chosen another school, but the list of things I’d tragically have never been able to experience is too long for the space provided. I can’t imagine not having made the friends that I have, not having learned that which I have from these world class professors, not having had a lazy, warm Sunday to spend sprawled out on the Beach, and, of course, I don’t know what I ever would have done had Lucie not asked me to be her co-host on “Learn More, See More, B’more”!

"Just a SAABtown girl...Don't SAABelievin'!"

What has your greatest contribution been during your time at Hopkins? Well, I’d like to think Lucie and I have contributed a lot with our show…but in addition to that I think serving on SAAB and SAAC have allowed me to do a lot for my Homewood community by helping recruit the best prospective students and representing the Men’s and Women’s soccer teams, respectively. Also, I founded NeuroJAYS (The Neuroscience Journal Association for Young Scientists) with the help of a few of my neuroscience friends (first props to Lara Tromba, who didn’t laugh at me when I randomly suggested the creation of a Neuroscience journal club in the middle of Cog. Neuro.), and I think that’s going to develop into a really great contribution to Homewood’s academic life.

Post-game picture with the fam after a HUGE win! (Left to Right: Lauren, Teona, Tiffanie, ME, Nusaiba, and Alex)


What do you hope to accomplish before graduation? At the very least, I hope to have double-majored, earned a Master’s of Science degree, all the while as a varsity athlete.

What advice would you give to a high school senior choosing their college? Don’t follow the name on the brochure, follow your heart. It’s all about feel, no matter where you are. I couldn’t possibly believe this more: you will be a thousand-fold more successful at a school you love from the first moment you step on campus than at a school you attend to appease your parents, your friends from home, or your own lifelong desires. Even if that school isn’t Hopkins, just find the place that’s really right for you.

Posted in Advice, Common Blogs, Why Hopkins |

In memoriam…The Greatest Hits of “Meet JHU_Noah”

Posted by | Posted on March 15, 2011


This very day, the Hopkins Interactive Forums thread entitled, “Meet JHU_Noah was deleted as a consequence of several irreconcilable damages to its source code sustained during the Great Fall Semester Server Malfunction of 2010. Here, we mourn and celebrate the legacy of the brave prospective applicants who threw caution to the winds in their indefatigable quest for answers. Here, we honor of the twelve-hunred and sixty-three views it gained before its untimely demise. Here, we post in memoriam



Howdy, y’all!
My name is Noah Guiberson, and I am from Houston, Texas! I am double majoring in Molecular & Cellular Biology and Neuroscience, and I will be pursuing an MS in MCB in my fourth or fifth year, depending on how things shake out.

Why Hopkins
Succinctly, one of the many reasons that I chose Johns Hopkins is this; that when it comes to Biology and Neuroscience, there is no university in the world that is as prestigious and that has been nearly as consistently productive as Hopkins. I decided that I could suffer through questions like, “What is John Hopkin?” and “Why in the world was this guy named Johns?”, in order to be a part of the most legendary congregation of scientific aptitude in the history of modern medical research.

My Classes
These are the classes I’m taking this semester, as well as those that I will be taking next semester:

Gen. Physics I for Biological Sciences
Gen. Physics I Lab
Calculus II for Engineers
Intro. Chemistry I
Intro. Chemistry I Lab
Introduction to Neuroscience

Gen. Physics II for Biological Sciences
Gen. Physics II Lab
Probability & Statistics for the Life Sciences
Intro. Chemistry II
Intro. Chemistry II Lab
Cognitive Neuroscience

My Extracurriculars
These are some of the things I’m involved in most heavily on campus, thus far:
Varsity Soccer: I play Goalkeeper for the Men’s Soccer team. I love the game, I love the team, and I really love our fans. We draw an enormous number of fans to our games for a DIII program, and the atmosphere in Homewood Stadium on the night of a game is electric.
Student Admissions Advisory Board (SAAB): I applied and was accepted to SAAB because I want to help guide prospective Blue Jays toward making the right decision: applying to, and subsequently enrolling at, the Johns Hopkins University. The members of our group (my SAABuddies) are wonderful. It’s great to be able to play a role in shaping the next, best classes of the University I love.
Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC): I joined SAAC in order to be a part of the Athletic Department in a way that a normal Student-Athlete cannot. There are aspects of an athletic program (on the level of our institution, the Centennial Conference, as well as the NCAA) that Student-Athletes must be involved in. To paraphrase Machiavelli: in order to understand student-athletics, one must be an Athletic Director; but in order to understand what is needed to direct an athletic program, one must be a Student-Athlete.

I LOVE WOLMAN! At first, I wanted to be in the AMRs. But as luck would have it, I ended up on the 6th floor of Wolman East, and I can’t imagine that I ever wanted to be anywhere else! The A/C was a godsend during the first month of the semester. Of course, it also helps that I live in the biggest freshman room, by floor space (220 sq. ft.; It is enormous.). I have also grown to love living off-campus (well, across the street from the front gate), and my RA has become a really good friend of mine. To be honest, I think of him as a mentor. He and I have nearly identical aspirations, and it’s been great to have 24/7 access to someone who’s been through it all. It just goes to show that your RA can be more than your mom-away-from-home.




Hi Noah!
My name is Rachelle and I applied to Johns Hopkins for the 2011-2012 school year. I chose Neuroscience as my major, and I just wanted to know how you were liking it.




Hi Rachelle!!!
First and foremost, let me thank you on being the first person to ask me a question on my little part of the forum! It’s kind of a big deal for me!
I love being a Neuroscience major! My first Neuroscience class was Introduction to Neuroscience with Professor Hendry last Fall. He’s the best lecturer I’ve ever encountered, and he’s extremely accessible. He also teaches Nervous System I & II, which are two of the three core Neuroscience courses (along with Cognitive Neuroscience).
It’s a pretty rough major, in the sense that the material is really advanced and the classes are pretty difficult, but you’ll find that your comprehension of the concepts and your ability to study effectively will gradually outpace the rigor.
A big part of both the Neuroscience Program and academic life at Hopkins in general is undergraduate research. As a Neuroscience major, you’ll have to complete 9 credits of research. One of the (many) wonderful things about this University is that the community eagerly accommodates undergraduates who want to pursue research. I started research this semester as a Freshman with the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering’s Neuroregeneration program (NeuroICE).
All you have to do is be proactive; figure out what kind of research you’d like to participate in, make a list of labs you’d like to work in, narrow it down to four or five of your favorites, and send an email to each introducing yourself and indicating your interest in their work. Responses can range from, “Come on in and see us!” to “Sorry, but our lab is saturated at this time. We cannot take on any more undergraduates. Good luck!” But don’t be discouraged, put in the work and you will find a lab.
(This is a blog I wrote about finding research: http://blogs.hopkins-interactive.com/2014/2011/02/research-quest-research-queries-nothing-gets-you-going-in-the-morning-like-a-good-ol-fashioned-protein-assay/)
Another great thing about Neuro is that there are a lot of us, so there’s bound to be somebody studying for your exam in the FFC with whom you can study.
I really do love every second of it. My first Cognitive Neuroscience midterm is today and I’ve been studying like crazy! It’s a really great class, and a really great major!
I hope that answered your question well enough!



Hello Noah,
My name is Eri and I also applied to Johns Hopkins for the 2011-2012 semester. I am wondering how the Molecular and Cellular Biology part of your double majoring is going and what classes you plan to take on in your sophomore year.



Hey Eri!
It’s going really well! Right now, there isn’t a lot to do for Mol/Cell because I have to finish Chemistry before moving onto Orgo and Biochem –– the two classes that really open up all of the upper level Biology courses. I’m staying in Baltimore this summer to take Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 as well as Orgo Lab. Then, I’ll be able to take Biochemistry next Fall and Cell Biology next Spring.
The way I have it currently planned out, my Fall semester will consist of:
Nervous System I (3)
Biochemistry (4)
Biochemistry Lab (2)
Research (3)
Honors Single Variable Calculus (3) [I wanted to take this class during my freshman year, but I got really sick and had to drop a bunch of classes]
My Spring semester is a little foggy, in that I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing…BUT this is my best guess:
Nervous System II (3)
Cell Biology (4)
Cell Biology Lab (2)
Research (3)
(Probably 3 or 6 distribution credits; classes TBD)
I hope that helped!



Thanks that actually helped a lot!

I know that JHU uses a Pass/Fail system for the first semester. Would you recommend using AP credits to take more “risky” advanced classes or is it more beneficial to take more background classes before that?



Well, that is very much an individual decision. If you feel like you have already have a solid grasp on the material you’d be skipping by placing out of a class like Chemistry, taking Organic Chemistry under covered grades might be a good idea. But, while it may be tempting to just take the credit and move on to a more advanced topic, remember that your grades will not be covered second semester. If you’re not ready to take a class like Orgo right out of the gate, you might want to consider retaking Intro. Chem. However, these are all things you can discuss at length with your academic advisor–they’re all extremely experienced with this sort of thing and will be able to help you work out the best possible plan for your Freshman Fall.
Now, a bit of personal insight:
I was an IB kid, and I did well enough on the IB Biology Exam to receive credit for Biology I & II as well as Biology Labs 1 & 2. (A guide to the AP/IB scores that merit credit at JHU can be found here: http://apply.jhu.edu/apply/apib.html) I took the credit, but it turned out not to matter. Believe it or not, General Biology is not a required class for either the BS in Mol/Cell Bio OR the BA in Neuroscience, provided that you choose the Cellular & Molecular concentration. General Biology is required, however, if you are pursuing the BA in Biology or the BA in Neuroscience, provided that you choose the Cognitive or Systems concentrations.
So, it depends. Find out what your desired major requires and weigh your options with the help of your advisor.
Since you’re interested in Mol/Cell, this is the link for the Mol/Cell major requirements: http://www.bio.jhu.edu/Undergrad/BSProgram.aspx
And, just for kicks, this is the link to the Neuro major requirements: http://krieger.jhu.edu/neuroscience/undergraduate/major_req.html
I hope I’m two for two in terms of helping you out!
Let me know if you have any other questions!



Thanks so much!
Yep, 100%
It is so nice that Hopkins offers a site for prospective students to get real hand accounts from students such as yourself.
Again thank you.



I know, right?
You’re welcome!



And so it ended…but the lost shall return anew! Stay tuned for the revival of “Meet JHU_Noah” on the Hopkins Interactive Forums!



Posted in Advice |

Spring Is In The Air; or, “Studying On The Beach”

Posted by | Posted on March 1, 2011


Many of the other SAABers posted a run-down of their Spring semester class schedules, and, since I am dull and unimaginative, I’ve decided to do the same!

Cognitive Neuroscience

I love Cog Neuro! This course surveys theory and research concerning how mental processes are carried out by the human brain. Currently a wide range of methods of probing the functioning brain are yielding insights into the nature of the relation between mental and neural events. Emphasis will be placed on developing an understanding of both the physiological bases of the techniques and the issues involved in relating measures of brain activity to cognitive functioning. Methods surveyed include electrophysiological recording techniques such as EEG, VEP, ERP, single/multiple unit recording and MEG; functional imaging techniques such as PET and fMRI; and methods that involve lesioning or disrupting neural activity such as WADA, cortical stimulation, animal lesion studies, and the study of brain-damaged individuals.

Early Renaissance Art: Giotto to Leonardo

This is a class I decided to take because I’m an aspiring snob. Essentially, the topic of the class is the circumstances of artistic production in Florence compared with those operating in Naples, Rome, Milan, and Venice. We study the city as a site of divergent uses of art by different communities and interests, employing images for the expression of identity and status and as a strategic means of producing consensus or exploiting social division. It’s fascinating stuff.

Expository Writing: Expository Writing: Lofty Praise and Vulgar Accusations in Ancient and Modern Oratory

This course teaches students the concepts and strategies of academic argument. We learn to analyze and evaluate sources, to develop their thinking with evidence, and to use analysis to write clear and persuasive arguments. Each of the four sections of the class focuses on its own intellectually stimulating topic or theme, but the central subject of all sections is using analysis to create arguments. For example, we just submitted the final draft for a paper analyzing the great Roman orator Cicero’s Pro Milone, and soon we’ll be delving into what oratorical elements constitute humor according to the great Roman humorist, Quintilian.

Chemistry II & Chemistry II Lab

Chemistry is Chemistry. Chemistry Lab is Chemistry Lab. They’re pretty straightforward classes: a lot of lecture and a lot of lab. Luckily, Professor Poland is AWESOME. Plus, I love Remsen 1. It’s one of the coolest (and steepest) lecture halls I’ve ever seen.

Neuroscience Research

I research at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering in the School of Medicine, where I work with a post-doc who is investigating the role of a specific microRNA in preventing cell death in the mouse hippocampus after strokes resulting from bilateral central carotid artery occlusion. I’m there from 9am-5pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so it’s a lot of work. But it’s absolutely worth it, I love every minute I’m there!

Posted in Classes |

Research Quest, Research Queries: nothing gets you going in the morning like a good ol’ fashioned protein assay…

Posted by | Posted on February 14, 2011


Neuroscience majors must complete 6 credits of research obtained through work in one of the neuroscience laboratories participating in the program. Participation in laboratory research provides Undergraduates with the opportunity to experience neurobiology firsthand, and to familiarize themselves with the techniques, protocols and distinct culture of research. Don’t let the fact that research is required intimidate you, it’s an immensely rewarding experience and one that you will greatly enjoy. This is the story of how I found my way into the lab.

I was encouraged by my Introduction to Neuroscience professor, Dr. Stewart Hendry, to take a look at the Department of Neuroscience’s website and to go over the list of Faculty. He told me to read each professor’s research summary and to make a list of roughly five labs that I was most interested in.  I did so, and sent out emails to each of them indicating my interest in their work and my desire to work in their lab.

As per Professor Hendry’s instruction, I wrote a brief ~50 word overture. This is what I sent to the Professor in whose lab I am currently doing research:

Dr. Dawson,

My name is Noah Guiberson. I am a freshman Molecular & Cellular Biology and Neuroscience double-major at JHU.

I’m writing to inquire about the possibility of working in your lab.

This past semester, I took Introduction to Neuroscience with Dr. Stewart Hendry, and I will be taking Cognitive Neuroscience in the Spring. Next semester, I have three credits that have yet to be allotted. I would very much like to use these credits for research.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you,
Noah Guiberson
cell: (***) ***-****
email: noah.guiberson@jhu.edu

After a few days, I began to get responses. This is the most harrowing part of the whole saga. It is likely that some of the labs you contact will be saturated or will not respond, but for the most part, labs at Hopkins are extremely accommodating to undergraduates. That’s one of the amazing hallmarks of this University–the environment that encourages undergraduate research.

The next step with respect to a positive response will be to send your CV. CV stands for curriculum vitae which is Latin for “course of life”. In essence, it’s a summary of your academic and professional history.

For example, my CV is organized as follows:

Awards & Honors
Research Experience
Positions Held
Relevant Coursework

When writing a CV, it can be shockingly difficult to think of things that you’ve done. But keep at it, and you’ll find that you’re probably more impressive than you thought!

After I sent my CV to the Dr. Dawson, he sent me an email asking when I could come in to meet him. I was terrified. I took the JHMI shuttle from Homewood to the Medical campus and arrived an hour before the time I was supposed to be there.

Our meeting was incredibly relaxed. He asked me about things such as my interest in Neuroscience, how I was doing in my classes and his upcoming trip to Hawaii. Then he offered to let me talk to two of his post-docs who had mentioned that they had an interest in having a student.

Their projects were incredibly different. One was working to isolate, sequence and model the conformational structure of a protein with a neuroprotective role in the CNS, and the other was investigating the role of a specific microRNA in preventing cell death in strokes resulting from a bilateral central carotid artery occlusion the mouse hippocampus. I’m far more interested in cellular neurobiology than biochemistry, so when Dr. Dawson asked me which I’d like to work with, I chose the second post-doc.

This semester, I arranged my schedule so that I could be in the lab from 9am-5pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I love every moment of it!

If you have any questions about research, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to get you an answer!


Posted in Research, Uncategorized |

SummerHop Shenanigans: “Pre-Frosh vs. CTY”

Posted by | Posted on January 20, 2011


The Beach is the spot to be during the summer. People are always out there playing soccer, tanning or just hanging out.

As the weather turns chilly in Baltimore, my mind turns to thought of summer warmth (it’s 73oF in Houston, Texas right now).

Last July, I took six credits at Hopkins during the second summer term. Since the previous December, my mind had been focused on one thing: getting to Homewood. And by my high school graduation, I had one foot out the door. I was so tired of waiting. So, after a brief recovery period of going to the gym every morning at, like, 4 A.M. and practicing with the goalkeepers at HBU and Rice every afternoon for what felt like 15 hours…I packed two duffle bags (one large, one small) and a backpack with everything I wanted to take to college and set out for the airport. I carried everything with me, by myself. Nothing was going to get in my way. I was a pre-frosh on a mission…Mission: Homewood.

I arrived in Baltimore with no idea how to get to Hopkins from BWI. I managed to find a cab driver that would take me for very little money. He said that his daughter was starting college soon and that he “appreciated the plight of the young undergrad”. Thankful, I got in. We ended up taking what I determined later was the single most convoluted route ever. It was a good time, though. He talked about how kids grow up too fast and about how his daughter was so much smarter than he was. Proud father that he was, he showed me a picture from her graduation and almost teared up. The way that he approached it was funny, he said, “Let me show you a picture from her graduation. Oh, well, wait. Maybe when we stop at the next red light.” I laughed and responded, “Yeah, that’d be good!”

Having arrived behind the AMRs and removed my three bags from the cab, my new friend and I bid each other adieu went our separate ways; he, back to work and likely then to spend some time with his beloved daughter, and I, on to Hopkins and a new life at Homewood.

Nusaiba and I on Skype during Introduction to Bioethics. What's worse is that we were sitting right next to each other.

I took two classes, Foundations of Modern Political Philosophy and Introduction to Bioethics, for a total of six credits. There was a lot of reading, as one might expect, but it was fascinating! Whole new worlds were opening up with every seminal work of political theory or landmark philosophical treatise that I read! In that month, I read more than six books for FMPP and around 1200 pages of material for Bioethics…well, maybe I didn’t read all 1200 pages…

Despite how great it feels to write a twenty-page philosophy paper in twelve hours (I’m not kidding, you’ll feel pretty awesome afterwards), the best thing about my experience with SummerHop was getting to know campus with what shakes out to be a small, tightly-knit group of wide-eyed Freshmen like yourself. It was great to get a feel for things with few other people around…except, of course, for the dreaded CTY kids

Summer nights at Hopkins (as in the musical Grease) were awesome.

Some of you may know about CTY programs, or, Centers for Talented Youth. They exist at pretty much all really excellent universities, so I’ve noticed, and they attract a special breed of insufferable , overly-ambitious, prepubescent geniuses. Sure, there were a few really cool ones who filtered in amongst we pre-frosh (one of them was a brilliant, world-class pianist, who happened to be deaf…talk about inspiring…). But the rest of them…oh, the horror we felt as they overran the Fresh Food Café at their cyclic, predictable mealtimes.

One lunch, my best friend Nusaiba was distraught to see that they had all decided that that day was going to be cross-dressing day. I thought that was pretty humorous, actually. Nonetheless, Homewood seemed all the more wonderful to me when they finally left. (They left as a result of a epic and truly cataclysmic battle, in which Nusaiba and I employed our extensive knowledge of Hop Fu to fight of the hordes of CTY kids who were charging at us from every angle, but that’s another story.)

We had some really great times, we Pre-Frosh & Co.. One night, we were lying on The Beach and watching That ’70s Show when we decided to order Chinese Food (the actual delivery part required shouting at a very confused deliveryman who probably thought it had been a prank order as soon as we told him to bring the food to the library). Other nights we just buried ourselves in study.

Taking classes in the summer at Hopkins is an amazing experience, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to any pre-frosh who just can’t wait to get to Homewood. You won’t regret it.

CHECK IT OUT: http://www.jhu.edu/summer/precollege/index.html

Posted in Breaks |

Let’s Start From The End: Freshman Year, In Retrospect?

Posted by | Posted on January 2, 2011


When I applied to be a part of the Student Admissions Advisory Board, one of the requirements was that I compose and essay about my Freshman Year, as if I were writing in retrospect, having just completed it. Below is that essay, and I stand by everything that I wrote, especially the jokes about France’s “nuclear arsenal” and the scoreline of the Men’s Lacrosse team’s impending National Championship. Enjoy!

It has been quite the year. There were improbable firsts and long-awaited repeats, times both high and low, occasions with underpinnings of glorious success in addition to those of humbling epiphany; and, of course, long nights spent both in single-minded study as well as in joyous celebration.


This past year saw Hopkins win national championships in every sport, save for Lacrosse. Well, the Lax team actually did win the championship, but were disqualified retroactively when it was discovered and proven, via meticulous analysis of the instant replay footage, that they had failed to honor the NCAA’s “Regulations with regard to the ‘Mercy Rule'” during their 3946-2 victory over Duke University in the title game. I recall Coach Pietramala’s justification of the scoreline: “We tried to give them at least a fighting chance, but even after we had exhausted our 3rd, 4th and 5th string players and had started suiting up students from the crowd, the score was way out of hand. Hell, the parliamentary debate team and Nu Rho Psi still scored upwards of 250 goals, each.”

ORIOLES WIN!!! ORIOLES....wait, what?

Our Baltimore pride was bolstered by the Orioles’ seemingly mathematically impossible playoff-berth and subsequent World Series sweep of the Cardinals (No, no St. Louis, THIS is Birdland). There really isn’t all that much more to say on the matter, other than the fact that I owe some diehard O’s fans a great deal of money. Watch a video of their victory here: ORIOLES WIN WORLD SERIES; CELEBRATION ENSUES (I swear that I had not seen this video before I wrote this essay. In fact, I only found it a few minutes ago when I looked up “Orioles Win World Series”. It was the first result…the second was “LOL”.)

Needless to say, it was a good year for the athletic program and for campus spirit.

But off the field and away from the court, JHU undergraduates did what they have always done best: do groundbreaking research and make monumental breakthroughs in their fields.

A look back at just a few of their achievements over the past year:

Artist's Depiction of The Leonardo DiCaprio Center for Neurobiology

A team of spirited freshman Neuroscience majors performed Inception on Leonardo DiCaprio for extra credit in Professor Stewart Hendry’s AS.080.105. DiCaprio woke up in Los Angeles, right where he had gone to sleep, with a profound desire to stop making movies and an inclination to donate large sums of money to the Johns Hopkins University. In unrelated Department of Neuroscience news, the $300 million Leonardo DiCaprio Center for Neurobiology is scheduled for completion in the Summer of 2013.

As was to be expected, the Romance Languages majors all fell in love with one another. And, to be fair, who could blame them?

Several International Studies majors were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for their collaborative effort to restore peaceful relations to the French-speaking world, following the Great Baguette Crisis of 2011 (which threatened to spell the dissolution of the Francophonie). The IS students mediated the dispute in flawless French and proposed solutions which resulted in all sides leaving the table with their pride intact and with a renewed respect for the Johns Hopkins University. Honestly, as a Molecular & Cellular Biology/Neuroscience major, how they managed to get the French to recall the full deployment of their nuclear arsenal is beyond me, but more power to them.

The BMEs were unusually quiet this past year, which I guess was understandable. They did much of their work on D-Level, where talking (or even wearing squeaky shoes) is punishable by damnation to a very special level of hell (maybe H-Level?).

Yes, we Blue Jays made the news quite a few times this year. But a great deal happened that wasn’t reported in the paper or in club announcements. Some of the most wonderful moments were those that nobody really heard about at all.

One of my favorite memories is of the night my friends and I spent watching That ’70s Show on the Beach, while trying to identify the chinese food deliveryman. It was a little chilly and we were all bundled up in hoodies and blankets. We must have been quite the sight to see, and to hear for that matter, because Michelle wouldn’t stop yelling in Chinese at every car that drove up in front of the MSE (是外賣嗎??? Are you the Chinese food deliveryman???).

An early sketch on the back of a napkin that I used to pitch the concept to my sea-farin' crew.

Another great memory is that of the weekend my friends Nusaiba, Jimmy, Jennifer and I spent strategizing our hostile takeover of the U.S.S. Constellation in the Inner Harbor (the first shots were to be fired from the cannon on Federal Hill). Our intent was to take her out to sea and earn enough money to pay for textbooks as lawless, adventuring corsair-privateers. The plan was scrapped when it occurred to us that we would probably be taken off Dean’s List.

Commencement 2011

Despite all the excitement that took place throughout the fall and spring, Commencement was, by far, the most poignantly moving experience of the year. We all gathered at Homewood Field to wish our friends from the Class of 2011 well and, of course, to embarrass them with lots of screaming and multicolored signs.

But after it was over, and all our recently graduated counterparts had packed up and left campus, there remained a pervading sense of loneliness. It just doesn’t seem right, a Homewood without four Classes. But in the Fall, when the Class of 2015 arrives, all will be right at Johns Hopkins University. And, together, we will make headlines, history, and a hell of lot more stories.

Posted in Athletics, Baltimore, Campus Events, End of the Year Re-Caps, Reflection, Student Activities, The "Real" World, Why Hopkins |

Homewood Bound: How I got here, and why I came.

Posted by | Posted on November 29, 2010


For the next few weeks, the Hopkins Interactive bloggers will be writing on a common theme: our college search and application processes. We know just what you’re going through right now, having gone through it ourselves not too long ago. We hope that by sharing our experiences with you, you’ll be better equipped to handle this stressful, important and exciting time in your life.

My college search began in the ninth grade when I took the PSAT for the first time. Despite the forewarnings of my sophomore friends, I checked the box indicating that I wanted the College Board to release my information, allowing any and all interested colleges to contact me. Shortly thereafter, I was buried underneath a veritable mountain of college mailings.

At first, I was excited. These institutions of higher learning wanted me! But then I realized that I was going to have to figure out what exactly it was I wanted if I was even going to be able begin to figure out which of them was right for me. So I began to think, and I made lists. I made lots of lists. From then until the second semester of my Junior year, I made a new “Top Ten” list at least once a month. I may have dipped briefly into the realm of obsession, but I was only trying to make the most important decision I had ever had to make!

There is a part of this story that I’ve got to tell for perspective’s sake. I started playing soccer in my sophomore year of high school because it wasn’t basketball. I had played basketball my entire life, I had come from a basketball family, and I had had enough. Before long, it occurred to me that I wasn’t half-bad! I spent my junior year trying to get the attention of the coaches from the colleges on my top ten list, as well as those from a multitude of others for safety’s sake.

Despite my desire to play college soccer, my list was never affected based on that alone. My position was that if I were to accept a spot on a team (should I have been offered one), it had better be at the number one school on my list. The problem was, I had no idea which school was going to end up on top.

By the summer before my Senior year, I had narrowed down my list to a “Super Six”.

Among these lucky finalists was, of course, the Johns Hopkins University, as well as schools to-be-left-unnamed in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Massachusetts and New York. Here’s the thing, none of these schools were remotely similar! From mission to pedagogy to size to environment, they shared very little. Even after all that research and reflection, the only things that one could have derived about my interests were that I wanted to live on the East Coast and that I wanted to attend a university with absolutely excellent academics. But I mean, really, who doesn’t?

By now, I had done the research, I had read the material, I had reviewed and critiqued all the best Biology and Neuroscience programs (in essay form, no less), and I had very nearly memorized all of the admissions websites. But I hadn’t yet been able to do one, very important thing. It was time to visit some schools.

That summer I visited my Super Six, as well as many others, and was saved (truly) from my indecision. On my visits, it was immediately clear to me what I did and did not want. (A note: My first visit was to Hopkins, and it was on that trip that I fell in love with Homewood. I gave it the place at the very top of the list, even before I had anything to compare it to, and my confidence never wavered once.)

I found that I needed to be in a city. I knew that if I were really happy with my campus, I would rarely have much cause to leave it outside of special occasions. But I also knew that this life-long city boy would go crazy without easy access to a major metropolitan center. Baltimore fit the bill perfectly.

I found that I didn’t want to be suffocated by an officious and overbearing core curriculum. The concept that great universities have the institutional foresight and higher wisdom to prescribe best knowledge is, in modernity, functionally obsolete. It stems from the age (on the order of two centuries back and further) when a broad, liberal arts curriculum could very nearly canvas the entirety of human knowledge. That is no longer true. All I wanted from my university was the guidance to help me determine exactly what it was that I wanted to pursue, and the resources to pursue it fervently and unconditionally. I do believe, however, that the loosely interpreted point of breadth in an education is a valid one, so long as I am able to choose the manner in which I achieve it. There is no core curriculum at Hopkins. Certain prerequisite classes are required for certain majors, but even in that respect there is a huge amount of freedom. For breadth’s sake, JHU instituted the Distribution Requirements, 30 credits taken in academic areas different than that of your major. And the beauty is that if your desire is to pursue a traditional liberal arts curriculum, you are more than welcome to do so. Freedom, how sweet the sound…

Additionally, what I wanted desperately was the ability to get involved with important research early on in my undergraduate career. I was tired of textbook academia, I wanted to get my hands dirty and do some real science. At Hopkins, there are students who say, “Put us in a lab, teach us what to do, and let us loose. Stockholm, here we come.” This attitude is encouraged and fostered.

Most of all, I wanted to be part of a vibrant, electric, and lively academic community. I was told about the quality of the minds on this campus, and I was not disappointed when I arrived. Homewood is, through day and night, abuzz with the informal exchange of big ideas, marked by their profundity and great insight. These are great minds, congregated in a secular sanctuary of academic excellence. If you get to be a part of our community, you’ll be shocked at how quickly your understanding of highly complex concepts will develop. You may have never thought yourself a paragon of erudition. But when your peers expect it of you and, by their expectation and companionship, help you achieve it, you’ll find that the barriers between you and your starry-eyed aspirations will fall away at your lightest touch.

At Homewood I found everything that I wanted. I went ahead and visited all those other unnamed universities; none measured up. I’d say the rest of the trip was a waste of time, but hindsight’s 20/20, and there’s no way I could have known then that they weren’t all just as perfect as Hopkins. They’re not, by the way. But don’t let me discourage you from discovering this on your own. Make the trips, take the tours, do all the research…see for yourself.

But back to the story…I had returned from from my epic, month-long college-visit/soccer-recruiting adventure and had decided that I was going to be applying Early Decision to Hopkins, no matter what. There I was, sitting in Whataburger (the greatest fast-food ever), when I received what may have been the second best email of my life. It was from Coach Appleby offering me a spot on the team at Hopkins, pending my success in admission. The following phone conversation was along the lines of, “if you get in, we’d like you to play for us.”

In mid-December of my Senior year, I received what remains the best email of my entire life.

It began “Congratulations…”

Posted in Reflection, Uncategorized |

The Road to San Antonio Part Two: Sweet and Elite

Posted by | Posted on November 19, 2010


This weekend, the Johns Hopkins Men’s Soccer team will travel to Delaware, Ohio and the campus of 2nd-ranked Ohio Wesleyan University in order to take on the “Battling Bishops” in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.

Following their first and second round victories over Richard Stockton College and #4 Christopher Newport University respectively, the Blue Jays will try their luck in a new town, a new state and a new round of the tournament.

Our first game is Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. against OWU.

I’ll be blogging periodically throughout the weekend, keeping you updated on the team and our tournament progress. Keep checking for new updates!


Friday, November 19

9:06 a.m.: The team just boarded the bus for what is sure to be an excruciatingly long drive to Delaware, Ohio. We were saddened to see that our usual bus driver, Gary, would not be taking us this time. Oh well, here we go! LET’S GO HOP!

12:17 p.m.: After some absurd detours, we finally stumbled across a Subway somewhere in western Maryland (or apparently left Maryland, depending on who you ask). While we were there, a woman came up to me and asked if we were heading to Frostburg. “No, ma’am. We’re on our way to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in Ohio.”, I replied. Next, she asked me if we were from “John Hopkins”. I said, “No ma’am. We’re from Johns Hopkins.” Next, she asked me if we (the soccer team) were from the hospital. “No ma’am,” I said, “we’re from the University.” She went on to tell me about her children and grandchildren. Then I ate a sandwich. Good times.

3:43 p.m.: Thus far, the passengers on this bus have made it through Avatar, Miracle and A Night at the Roxbury on the little screens that drop down from the ceiling. I hear estimates that there are about two hours left until we arrive.

6:02 p.m.: We’ve finally made it to the hotel! There’s a quick turnaround now, we’re supposed to meet back downstairs as soon as we’ve put our bags away in order to go practice at OWU.

11:21 p.m.: Practice went very well. First we drove about 30 minutes to get to OWU’s campus, and then we walked around their field (which had been heralded as one of the best facilities in the region). We were a little disappointed, given the hype, to find that it was full of patches of dirt and mud. Apparently it had rained the night before, so we were going to be training on their turf field nearby. We reloaded the bus and drove for a few more minutes, got out again, and practiced on the turf field. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel for a little while so as to shower and get ready for dinner. Where did we go? OLIVE GARDEN. That’s right, the single greatest restaurant in the history of soccer tournaments. And it lived up to its hype. Delicious.

Saturday, November 20

9:57 a.m.: It’s game-day!!! Tonight, your Johns Hopkins Blue Jays will take on the Battling Bishops of Ohio Wesleyan! It is sure to be an exciting and dramatic game, so make sure to tune in to watch the game live via Ohio Wesleyan Athletics website. You can also get to the streaming video from the Johns Hopkins Athletics website, navigating to the Men’s Soccer page, clicking on “Schedule” and looking for the video link in the side bar on the right side of the page.
This is the direct link to the video: http://stream.owu.edu/broadcasts/athletics/101120_msoccer_2.html
We’re ready to go. But first, we have to go downstairs to eat breakfast.

12:05 p.m.: We’re getting closer…Tonight, we play the most important game of our lives.

“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”

4:48 p.m.: In about 30 minutes we’ll be leaving for OWU. Make sure to watch the Blue Jays in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen tonight at 7:30 at this URL:


9:30 p.m.: After an extremely hard-fought game, the Blue Jays walked away champions, but not the night’s victors.

Johns Hopkins 1-0 Ohio Wesleyan (NCAA Sweet Sixteen)

Ours was a fantastic season. Here’s to our seniors, who have represented their University so well, and to next year’s successes, great and numerous as they shall be.

Go Hop!

Posted in Athletics, Uncategorized |

The Road to San Antonio: November Madness and the NCAA DIII Soccer Championships

Posted by | Posted on November 11, 2010


The Johns Hopkins Men’s Soccer team is heading to the Big Dance! On Monday at 2pm, the Blue Jays received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The first round will be held on the campus of Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia.

Our first game will take place on Friday at 5:00 p.m. against the Ospreys of Richard Stockton College.

I’ll be blogging periodically throughout the weekend, keeping you updated on the team and our tournament progress. Keep checking for new updates!


Thursday, November 11

6:29 p.m.: We’ve arrived in Virginia and are about to board the bus once more in order to go practice before our game tomorrow. The team is hyped and ready to go. The women’s volleyball team from Randolph-Macon College also happens to be staying at our hotel. But we will not be distrac….

8:55 p.m.: Back from practice. Homewood Field is turf, so the grass pitch at CNU was quite an adjustment. Nonetheless, after a few misfires and awkward passes, we hit our stride. Coach told us that we have five minutes to shower and get back to the hotel lobby so that we can go over to the hotel’s Italian restaurant adjunct.

11:17 p.m.: I’ve returned to the room now, after what must have been the longest wait for food in the history of restaurants. Coach Howe talked to us for a while about the importance of playing as a team during this tournament––but not in the hackneyed, cliché way. He told us that this tournament is filled with good teams. Each of these teams has one shot to win it all. They all recognize that they will have to play a perfect six games in a row in order to win a national championship. But, Coach Howe said, the thing that sets us apart is that we have always played for each other. Johns Hopkins Soccer has always been a team endeavor, a brotherhood, a family. Then my roommate Alvin and I went to a gas station to buy snacks. So it was a good night overall. Tomorrow is the big day…

Friday, November 12

8:34 a.m.: Good morning! It’s going to be a great day, I can feel it. It’s breakfast time….

9:13 a.m.: Breakfast was alright. This team has been doing a lot of bonding recently over shared dissatisfaction with hotel food. We’re not picky, it’s actually pretty bad. Nonetheless, c’est la vie. Coach Appleby told us that we’d be going for a short run at 11:15, followed by a stretch and a team meeting. After that, we’re going to Subway for Lunch! I realize that in all but one post so far I’ve mentioned food, but that’s just because…well, I don’t really have an excuse. I’m just hungry. Both Richard Stockton and Neumann (the other teams, minus the host, in this part of the bracket) are staying at this hotel as well. As awkward as it was to ride the elevator in silence with our soon-to-be opponents, it was even more so to eat breakfast next to players from Neumann, a school we handily dispatched 2-0 earlier in the regular season. Now, I’ve got to go help a teammate with his Chemistry Lab write-up.

12:16 p.m.: The run went well. It must have been an interesting sight to see a herd of soccer players running laps around a hotel. To say the least, I think we managed to intimidate one of Richard Stockton’s players. This poor guy walked outside, as if he had just woken up, to be greeted by a fully-awake, suited-up championship soccer team literally running circles around him in formation. Anyway, before long, we’ll be heading off to Subway to eat Lunch. Hopefully, one of Homewood’s staple establishments (transposed to Newport News, Virginia) will put an end to this team’s bad luck with food. There are less than 5 hours until kickoff! Be sure to watch the game via live web streaming at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/cnu.portal. If that link doesn’t work, go to the Johns Hopkins Athletic website, navigate to the Men’s Soccer page and click on the link that says “Schedule/Results”. In the window to the left of the schedule you should see a line of text that says “Coverage”. Under that, should be audio and video options. Choose either, but make sure to listen/watch the game! GO HOP!

2:42 p.m.: We are less than three hours from game-time, and the team stands resolute. There is not a wavering heart among us. We are going to represent the University well tonight. This team has been through a lot this season. We’ve certainly had our share of ups, and might I say far more than our share of downs. But we’re here now, in the “Big Dance”, and the slate is wiped clean. The NCAA tournament, brings out the best in every team that makes it in. But not every team’s best is equal. The road to the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas will be strewn with the high expectations, shattered dreams and regrets of the teams that couldn’t make it. We’re here to prove that our best is better than that of all the rest. We’re here to prove that our best is the best. So watch out Richard Stockton College, the Blue Jays are on the Road to San Antonio, and they’re ready to Dance. GO HOP!

7:05 p.m.: “YEEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” – Noah Guiberson
Victory. How sweet it is. That game was unbelievably tense. A quick recap: Stockton scored about 20 minutes in. We answered with a unassisted goal off the foot of Senior Scott Bukoski, who ran circles around (foreshadowing is always evident in hindsight) the entire RSC defense before curling one into the Upper 90. Just after halftime, a lucky free kick put Stockton ahead once more, but Junior Sean Coleman saved the day in the 73rd minute with a beautiful strike. Sean also missed an absolute shocker earlier on, but we forgave him when he buried that goal and saved us from elimination. The real fireworks came when Bukoski came through once again in the first overtime, scoring the Golden Goal that ended the game and caused the Johns Hopkins bench to rush the field. It was a great game, and with Richard Stockton dispatched, we turned our eyes to the team dinner at Olive Garden and to our next game against (presumably) Christopher Newport University.

11:13 p.m.: Oh my wizard God. I love Olive Garden. That was potentially the best meal I have ever had in my entire life. We enjoyed great food and great company as we celebrated a great win. We heard that CNU beat Neumann, so now we’re all focused on tomorrow’s game against the nation’s fourth-ranked team. Bring it on.

Saturday, November 13

1:28 a.m.: What am I doing awake right now? I’m exhausted, but I’m still pumped from our great win and by the prospect of playing for a spot in the Sweet Sixteen tomorrow evening! As per request, I’d like to give a shout-out to Chris Wilson. Chris is a senior on the soccer team who prefers 300-yard shuttles on the beach (long walks make him feel nostalgic) and who adores the love poetry of Pablo Neruda. Ladies, he’s single…

12:18 p.m.: I just found out that my last two posts didn’t actually make it onto the blog, so I’ll summarize them: Breakfast was not very good (shocker) and we had a light practice. Our jobs until game-time consist of resting in our rooms and eating Subway, should it ever arrive. I’ll keep you updated until we get on the bus.

1:41 p.m.: My roommates and I just discovered that the first six Harry Potter movies are running on loop on ABCfamily. I know what I’ll be doing until five o’clock…

4:01 p.m.: Since we won’t be coming back to the hotel regardless of the results of the game, the team will be spending the next hour or so packing up in order to be able to leave directly from the field. We’re all ready to go. We’ll be facing an extremely talented Christopher Newport team, but we are entirely confident that we will be able to defeat them. There are less than three hours until the start of the biggest game of our lives. Let’s go Hop!

9:36 p.m. Final Score (2OT): Johns Hopkins 2-1 Christopher Newport. The Blue Jays are headed to the Sweet Sixteen. Let the celebration commence!!!

Posted in Athletics |

“This Is Homewood, Gentlemen. We Do Not Lose Here.”

Posted by | Posted on October 30, 2010


“Game after game after game, I realize now what’s most important in my life: Blue Jay Soccer. Show me something more thrilling than a perfect volley; tell me you’ve never dreamed of the immaculate strike and been part of that moment when an entire arena holds it breath. Tell me that soccer is not our one common language, when the whole planet stops for ninety minutes to be witness to that one thing we all understand…”

Tonight, in the friendly confines of Homewood Field, the Johns Hopkins Men’s Soccer team will take on the Shoremen of Washington College in the final home game of the regular season. A loud and rowdy crowd will be on hand to witness the Blue Jays clinch, with a win, a berth in the Centennial Conference tournament, which they are favorites to win for the ninth time.

I can’t stand the allegation that there is no school spirit at Hopkins. The student presence at the soccer games is fantastic. And I have to say, the signs people make and chants that you hear are absolutely hilarious. Among my favorites: at the Swarthmore game, a student waved around a poster that she had good-naturedly emblazoned with the phrase “Liberal Arts = Fake College”. Additionally, our hecklers are top notch, and there is always a row of people spelling out “HOPKINS” or “BLUE JAYS” with their painted bodies. Sometimes, students attending games without enough friends to spell out the name of the University simply paint their stomachs with various punctuation marks and hop on the end, in order to spell “HOPKINS!!!”, or occasionally even “¿HOPKINS? ¡Sí!”.

“…This game is ecstasy, anguish, joy and despair. It’s part of our history, part of our culture, and it will be part of our future. It’s theatre, art, war and love. It should be predictable, but never is. It’s a feeling that can’t be explained, but we spend our lives explaining it. It’s our religion. We do not apologize for it, and we do not deny it. This is our team, our family and our University…”

Students at Hopkins spend a lot of time studying, no one doubts this. But athletics really is a significant part of life on campus. There’s always a football being thrown on the Beach, always a lacrosse ball flying from stick to stick on the Freshman Quad, always a basketball game in the Rec. Center, always a group of people playing ultimate frisbee on the Wyman Quad; and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see a formation of Chasers tossing the Quaffle back and forth as a student dressed all in gold runs away from a pair of persistent Seekers.

Maybe you’ll even get to come watch the Blue Jays take home a ninth Centennial Conference championship, and return to the NCAA tournament for the fourteenth time. Here’s hoping!

“…Yeah, you could tell me I’m wrong; some may say it’s just a game, but this is about heroes and tribes, loyalties and devotion; it’s our commitment and our passion, our battle and our belief; this is our faith. Now, feel the fever of the crowd, hear the roar of the faithful…This is the beautiful game. This is Johns Hopkins Soccer.


***Hopkins defeated Washington College by a score of 7-0. Go Hop.***

Posted in Athletics, Campus Events, Homewood, Social Life |