I’m sure the other senior (actually, alumnae!) bloggers share my sentiment of disbelief at the fact that this is the last entry we’ll be writing for Hopkins Interactive as students. Sorry to be cliché, but time really does fly in college. SERIOUSLY!
I’ll be trite for a moment with the “walk down memory lane;” forgive me in advance.
I remember my senior year of high school, when I made the decision to attend Johns Hopkins. I was nervous because I still had reservations about the place and my peers weren’t making it any easier to feel confident in my decision. “You know, Hopkins is so boring. Every time I go there it’s dead.” “Hopkins is cutthroat, be careful!” “Kids there are so mean and they don’t really have lives. They spend all day and night in the library.” Well, stereotypes come from SOMEWHERE, right? I got to campus a few days before Orientation because I went on a retreat hosted through the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA). I met my 3 closest friends there. I was happy to see that people were wrong; this place did have socially competent people. Score!
Not gonna lie though, freshman year was rough for me. I experienced the newness of life and blasé blah, freedom, different classes, etc…but I don’t think I had the “typical” experience. The fun, exploratory, wide-eyed experience that most college freshmen seemed to have was not mine, for academic, personal, and spiritual reasons. I used to hate that, but now I don’t because my experiences are my experiences and they have shaped me; for that I cannot be regretful.
my first retreat with my Christian group, Hopkins Christian Fellowship
Sophomore year was weird (I think it’s weird whether you’re in college or in high school). Not an upperclassman but not a freshman. Still trying to figure out who you are and what you like while trying to be smarter than you were the previous year. Lots of confusion mixed with putting on this semblance of bold confidence because you’re no longer a freshman. Oo la la!
Hanging out with some of my buds after church soph year on my birthday
Junior year was weird because everyone moves off campus and you’re no longer physically in the same place. Rent and bills make their way into conversations. Everyone has positions of leadership (RAs, TAs, Presidents, Coordinators…) Having positions like these forces you to be confident because now, people rely on you just the way you did as an underclassman.
Summer party junior yr for a couple of friends...blue themed
And senior year. I look back and I can honestly say that I am truly PROUD to be a Johns Hopkins graduate. I appreciated it while I was a student and I will forever appreciate it as an alum. Wow. From taking classes at Bloomberg (the graduate school of public health—number 1 in the world) to being an RA for freshmen (seriously the hardest but most rewarding job I’ve ever had…and I’ve had a million jobs) to going to Ghana with OMA (I WANT TO GO BACK!) to becoming a mentor to people whose shoes it seems like I was just in …senior year was amazing.
I can look back and be filled with “shoulda coulda wouldas” and that’s easy to do. Actually, it will probably take some intentional “mind training” for me not to do that. But when I take an honest look at my last 4 years, I can say without a doubt that what needed to happen happened. I may have not gotten the grades I wanted or explored as much as I wanted or served as frequently as I should have, but lamenting these things is fruitless. Hopkins showed me how to be a go-getter so I will not give up pursuing what I want.
Learn to take every experience for what it is. Every experience, big, small, good, bad– will contribute to the shaping of your character. You can’t grow without them. I am thankful for the trials I have faced while being here (and no, not all grades related haha ;) ) because I wouldn’t have grown without them. I hope I don’t sound like some annoying generic self-help “YOU CAN DO IT!” book haha because I truly mean this! My Hopkins experience became that much more meaningful once I internalized this. Being at Hopkins has really driven the point home that you have to be a bit uncomfortable for things to happen. If I didn’t take the chance with my internship in the middle of West Baltimore I wouldn’t have learned how to see people differently and how to relate to people different from me. If I was too afraid to re-apply for my RA-job because of the fear of rejection (I didn’t get it the first time) I wouldn’t have gotten this life-changing experience. If I was too worried about my GPA to stop taking science classes I wouldn’t have gotten my amazing Chem Lab TA job AND I wouldn’t have learned how to value other things above a GPA. If I had listened to those doubting voices as a prefrosh, heck, I wouldn’t even be here. I could go on and on, but you get my drift? Take chances (within reason, of course) and you will be amazed at where that can get you. Do not let people put you into a box. Don’t deny yourself the privilege of taking upper-level courses because you’re afraid you’ll get a bad grade. Don’t deny yourself trying out for that play or dance group because you’re afraid of rejection. Don’t go through the motions for the sake of getting to where you want to be in the future. Take some time to actually enjoy where you will be for the next four years. Gripe less about the workload and try to see it for what it can do for you…dare I say, try to enjoy it? (That is MUCH easier said than done, TRUST ME I know).
Ghana! One of the BEST BEST experiences of my life. EVER.
People have been telling me these past few weeks, “Cherish what time you have left at Hopkins.” But I say, don’t wait till the end to cherish something, cherish it during. Every good grade, every bad grade, every whimsical opportunity…take the time to reflect while these things happen and try to appreciate them then. Adopt a big picture perspective of life because you don’t want to graduate like, “Man I wish I spent less time hating stuff!”
And on that note. I dislike when people say that college will be the “best years of your lives.” Life doesn’t have to be some curve that peaks at college then goes downhill! Yes, college has been the best time of my life so far, but it doesn’t end here. I will take the amazingness I learned at Hopkins and use it to have even more amazingness in my post-college life. I’m not going to limit myself in that way and I don’t think you should either.
So, where am I right now? Well besides job-interviewing, I’m trying to sort my thoughts and feelings out. That’s a job in itself, haha. I am waiting for the unavoidable feelings of nostalgia to surface. I am admittedly still waiting for the feelings of excitement that should come with being a college graduate. But truth is, embracing uncertainty is hard. This is the first time in 18 years that my next step is not pre-determined. I have to get used to not being able to say that I’m a student. My shopping habits are changing because I will need to invest in business casual clothes (I came upon this realization while online shopping a few days ago…needless to say i didn’t purchase that pair of sneakers I was eyeing). Grad school and job events all have wine in wine glasses and adult-sounding smalltalk mingling that I don’t quite have the hang of yet. I’m trying to figure out how to stay in touch with my friends while learning to meet new people and learning to foster a social community outside of school. Honestly, I don’t even know what that looks like.
But I do know that I grew. I changed. I think more critically about people and things and situations. I read and speak and write differently. Different things matter to me. I met people who have changed my life. I discovered strengths and weaknesses. I am leaving college much better than when I entered. SOOOOO MUCH better. Banality is not an option. I may not feel like I’m ready, but I know I am–I have to be.
Baltimore Scholars (I wouldn’t be here without you!!), Hopkins Christian Fellowship, the Gathering at University Baptist Church, SAAB, the Public Health Studies Department, the Center for Social Concern (CSC), JHU Office of Residential Life, the Chemistry Department–thank you so much. it is because of you my experience here has been nothing short of splendid.
Future Blue Jays, you certainly have wonderful things to which you can look forward, as well as huge shoes to fill. The week of graduation was filled with ceremonies for different majors and scholarship programs and I was awestruck by how many amazing people have really come through this place. The passion and the zeal for fixing problems of this world is something you don’t always come across, so appreciate it when you do and even more, vow to be one of those people. I look forward to seeing what my peers will do with what they’ve learned at JHU.
And for that, I am grateful. Thanks Johnny Hop, for an amazing 4 years. The memories will last a lifetime.
Last night, I made my final bulletin board and calendar for my dorm (if you didn’t know, I am a Resident Advisor–RA–for freshmen in AMR 2). I named the bulletin board “Looking Back, Moving Forward” and left space for my residents to write reflections on this year and their expectations for next year. I was amazed that it was May and that this was the last events calendar I’d ever make.
I thought about this and about the fact that unlike them, I would not be returning to Hopkins next year. So I guess I’ll format this in the form of my bulletin board.
What I loved:
My friends. These people will be at my wedding, and my future godparents, and yea. My experience here would have been nothing without the amazing people I’ve met here and I wouldn’t have made it through. You come to college to learn but honestly, if you don’t have people to support and love and encourage and offer gentle criticism and guidance, then yea. You don’t really grow. I have had countless conversations with my friends about everything under the sun. I have had countless crying sessions from freshman year up until this year with my friends about school and grades and friends and fights and live and uncertainty. My friends gave had so much patience with me–much more than I could have for myself and more than I even have for other people (whoops). I couldn’t imagine my life without these people and I can’t imaging my life in the future without them. You know, it’s a weird thing. I have been talking to a lot of alum who tell me about j ust how different the graduated life is in terms of relationships and how much more work it really takes. Like in college you can wake up and meet your friends somewhere on campus. The graduated l ife means that you and your friends will be scattered throughout the world, literally. My friends and I had a gathering thing last week and as I was looking at everyone, I realized that despite how close we were (probably about 25 of us), none of us was going to the same place. The closest pairs and trios within our group will be split up and that’s frightening. It’s frightening to know I won’t be able to wake up and tell a friend “meet me at FFC I really need to talk to you” or “can I spend the night at your place?” I guess I’ll have to re-master the arts of the phone call (wow!) and wait for it…the letter (double wow!). But I’m excited because we’ll be forced to learn new ways of communication and we will be forced to depend on each other across state and international lines.
The challenge of academia. Now, let’s be honest. I have some serious senioritis right now. I know you seniors know what that feels like. Burned out from 7 semesters of work but not yet able to let go because you have to cross the finish line strong. Or as strongly as possible, haha. But really…I thank Hopkins for the challenge it kind of bestows upon its students. It’s because of this that I have confidence in my abilities to do work work in the real world. As I job search, I see that a lot of places want candidates with experience and coming straight out of undergrad, I don’t always have that, besides some jobs and internships I’ve held here. But then I read the descriptions and I think to myself “man if I don’t know how to do that, I can learn!” because of the challenge I have had here. I will definitely miss the feel of a classroom once I’m working in the real world but you know, it’ll make returning to grad school all the more sweet.
Learning about Baltimore. Ok. So if you guys didn’t know, I’m a Baltimore Scholar and that means that I live in Baltimore and went to high school here. Yet, there was so much about this city I didn’t know. Being a Scholar meant that I had to actually be a representative of this city to students not from here and in forcing me to be that, I’ve learned so much about this place. I’ve TA-ed 2 interssession courses (our “B’More!” program) in which we did community service, history learning, and field trips to certain landmark sites and neighborhoods in Baltimore. I’ve been tasked with finding, holding on to, and spreading pride about Baltimore. I was telling someone the other day that this place is compelling in that it really makes you work to love it. Like, on the surface, Baltimore doesn’t look that pretty or enticing, like New York or L.A. or Atlanta or Dallas or any of those big cities. You hear things about it (the Wire, anyone?) . But what I’ve come to know Baltimore as is a city of pride, a city with struggle that just refuses to give up on itself. And that;s been a pleasure to discover.
What I expect:
Learn more about myself. So if you guys read my last blog, you know I made the decision to not go to graduate school because of finances (I Plan to go in 1-2 years). So I’m job searching and being forced to look at myself and what qualities I possess that would make me an attractive candidate for jobs. And that’s harder than I thought, to be quite honest. Do I have good communicative skills? Can I learn how to realllllllllly use Excel (i.e. all the functions no one knows about)? Can I learn to cook for real and to sew? What abut dance? Can I handle going to work and having a life? My graduated friends told me that they, believe it or not, have less time as workers than as students. So we’ll see how this goes.
Again, I’m terrified–but I have no choice. Gotta look back but even more so, move forward.
So I am sitting here attempting to write a paper that’s due tomorrow morning at 10am, but I can’t focus. My last Spring Fair weekend has just come to a close and I am faced with the fact that I will be saying goodbye to Hopkins for good in about 4 weeks. The normal reaction is to be saddened by this–quite honestly, there are people here I’ve gotten to know that I may never see again, as we all take our separate journeys all over the world, literally. Over this past semester, I’ve been looking to the future. And I won’t lie–it’s utterly terrifying.
It’s even more terrifying for me now that I’ve made an executive decision to not attend graduate school at this time. After almost 2 months of agonizing, introspection, praying, advice-seeking, and pro/con list-making, I came to the conclusion that financially, grad school at Columbia would not be economically logical/wise for me at this time. I won’t go into all the gory details but basically, I figured I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night/focus on my schooling knowing I would basically be a slave to a mountain of debt. Now, before you all go freaking out about how I’m telling you that your prospective loans are a bad idea (cuz I’m not haha), it’s a personal thing and you have to think about what would and wouldn’t work for you and your family. I also figured that grad school would be there in 2 years and that I’d come back strong, with refined interests and a better way to fund myself.
But anyway, that isn’t the main point of this post. Embracing uncertainty is. If there’s anything you should know about me, it’s that I’m an extremely (at times painfully) detail-oriented person who does not live in the moment. Up until this point I had my life planned out…what internships and jobs I’d apply for/get, how I would pay for things, what I was going to do in college, etc. Always have been this way. But the fact that I will no longer be able to write “student” on the occupation sections of paperwork is scary, especially since I am job hunting and currently have few, if any, prospects. The fact that I have no clue as to what I will be doing this coming year or over the summer is frightening; I haven’t not (ok poor grammar sorry!) had a job since my freshman summer of high school.
So while I search, I’m being forced to embrace uncertainty. We usually look at uncertainty as a bad thing because that’s how our world is–fast-moving and unrelenting when it comes to accomplishing what we want to accomplish. But I’m being forced to literally stop and smell the roses.
:) ok so these aren't roses--they're tulips from the Tulip Garden near school but you get the point.
All these “lasts” are happening and ending so quickly (last Spring Fair, last Sterling Brunch, last classes, last Open Houses, last group meetings, etc…) and I think many of us seniors are frantically trying to cherish these last few weeks we have here, while looking confidently (or terrifyingly) towards the future; we’re trying to stay engaged with people and work while simultaneously being burned out from and tired of writing papers, studying for exams, and letting go of our leadership positions in groups we helped shape. We’re reflecting and regretting things we did and didn’t do while rejoicing over all the opportunities and experiences we’ve been able to have at Hopkins. Some of us are set on going to grad school, some of us have nice jobs already lined up and waiting for us after graduation, and some of us (e.g. ME) are still uncertain.
And I’m starting to feel like this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I get to breathe and not worry about schoolwork for at least a year. I get to truly contemplate what my interests are so when I do go for my Master’s and/or PhD (oh yea…it’s happening :) ), I know it’ll be worth it and I know I’ll be able to get what I want out of my schooling. I get to learn things about people and things and phenomena and culture and blasé blah that I couldn’t learn about in school. But I won’t lie, there is a tinge of sadness that comes whenever I think about the fact that I won’t be able to write “Dominique Duval, MPH” in my signature at the not-so ripe age of 23 (that would be cool woudln’t it); there is a tinge of sadness that comes when I think about the fact that this will be the first time in 18 years that I will NOT be in school (WOW!).
penultimate lacrosse game (as i n I can't attend them all haha)
One of the big things I’m dealing with is how to retain my relationships once I leave here. Perhaps you’re thinking about this too. Basically I’m starting to go around to people with whom I know I will want to keep in touch after graduation and build stronger relationships. I’m discussing expectations of keeping in touch and ways to keep in touch because the family I’ve had here is too precious for me to not do what I can to retain that. If this sounds weird, it’s because I’m a very concrete, practical person–honestly, the whole communication and keeping in touch thing will not happen magically haha…takes work on the parts of both parties. I’m preparing to keep in touch with the professors who have most touched me, as well as other faculty and mentors that have enriched my time here. Do that with your teachers in high school now! Once you’re no longer students, your relationships with them change and they become more like mentors to you (with a lottt of life experience and good advice! I still talk to a few of my high school teachers and I’m better for it). :) I recently had a few convos about my decision/future plans with my Public Health Studies advisor (yea Lisa!) and Dr. Smedick, a really cool dude I’ve gotten to know because of the Baltimore Scholars program. I’ve been so encouraged by them and plan on keeping that going in the future. So yea. Relationships!
Anyway, for now, embracing uncertainty and having faith it is. I want to take this time to learn and blossom.
like this flower. lol.
High school seniors, I am guessing some of you feel like me and some of you don’t–I dunno. Butttt, I do know that you future Blue Jays have an amazing 4 years ahead of you. Huzzah! :)
So I’m gonna try something new here…i.e. tell you “Why Hopkins?” by taking a look at some of everyone’s favorite Disney movies! :) Haha bear with me.
Baltimore–Aladdin’s “Whole New World”
Ok this is really cheesy and I’m slightly weirded out as I type this because it’s so corny but hey, we all love the song, right? Most people here are not from Baltimore so it’s new to most students. And we say it here and on forums and on FaceBook over and over again…but this is a truly special place. I have a special spot in my heart for Baltimore seeing as I’m from here and a Baltimore Scholar…but even with that, I myself have learned a TON about this city from being here these past 4 years. You like diverse foods? Check. A rich history? Check. A burgeoning arts/music scene? Check. Opportunities for some serious community involvement and engagement? Check. “A new fantastic point of view? Check! It’s all here baby!
Tough Lovin’–Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”
“Let’s get down to business, to defeat the Huns…” If you’re coming here, then you must love a challenge and be willing to work hard–there’s no getting around that. Doesn’t mean this is where fun comes to die (Not at all, actually!) but know you’re in for 4 years of hard work that will be both challenging and enjoyable, and very doable (so don’t be scared!). You will be stretched and honestly one of the best things Hopkins could have done for me was challenge me…I’m really prepared for grad school and I’m grateful for that. Look at Mulan…Shang sent her packing but she stuck with it and ended up being triumphant…bam!
Food–Beauty and the Beast’s “Be Our Guest”
Ok, so our dining hall, the Fresh Food Cafe (FFC) isn’t like this “Be Our Guest” scene but it’s still really cool. As an RA for freshmen, I eat there and I can attest to the fact that it improves every year (there are way more things now than when I was a freshman! Like a fresh squeeze OJ machine, gluten-free foods, a smoothie station, flavored coffees…) The dining here really likes to listen to students and get feedback. There are several dining meetings a semester in which students can talk to the food people here face to face and give compliments and complaints. This week there is even a meeting for vegetarians and vegans to give feedback about those types of options at FFC. Nolan’s, the dining hall in Charles Commons (mainly upperclassmen eat there because freshmen can’t use meal plan swipes there) has also improved a lot (not that it was bad int he first place ;) ) It, along with FFC, has made visibly conscious efforts to be more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. The new “Tex-Mex” line has been a great addition along with a better smoothie station. Levering Food court has places for pizza, chicken sammiches/hamburgers, salads, soups, and subs (sorry, no beef ragout, cheese souffle, pie or pudding en flambe…). I have been quite content with the food options here as well as the service!
Leisure Time--Lion King’s “Hakuna Matata”
One of the questions we get a lot from prospective students is about leisure time and whether we have enough as Hopkins students. I will answer with a resounding YES. I know hakuna matata means no worries so it’s not a literal translation haha…but I cannot stress enough how important it is to have some serious leisure time and to relax. My freshman year was actually my most difficult because I refused to allow myself leisure time…as a result, I was always bogged down in work and didn’t really know how to enjoy myself. Sad story because freshman year is the time to reallllly get out there and explore…and there won’t be another time like it so take advantage of it and Hakuna Matata!
So in this song, the genie tells Aladdin he would never find a friend like him, and to be very honest…that’s so true of Hopkins. I have met people here who I will know and love for the rest of my life (yea, I’m talkin’ bridesmaids and godparents! haha). I would not–let me repeat–would not have made it here without the beautiful, caring, passionate, unique people I call my friends and loves of my life. The advice, support, wisdom, encouragement, and camaraderie I’ve had here so far have been life-changing. You always worry about making new friends when you come to a new place–heck, I’m worried about it as I plan to make my way to graduate school in a different place this fall or next fall…but I know here you’ll find people who will fit you to a “T.”
I, like you, have completed the application process for the schools in which I am interested. Unlike a lot of you, I’ve already heard from my schools (well, I only applied to two haha) and have to make a decision by April 15th (as opposed to your May 1st deadline). I’m deciding between the University of Michigan School of Public Health and the Columbia School of Public Health–two well-established, highly respected/ranked institutions!
So, now I have a decision to make between these two schools and it has me thinking about what I want out of school. And as April 1 is right around the corner, I’m sure you are as well.
Grad school is a bit different from undergrad in that it’s more focused; you have to know what you want to study (not necessarily the career you want). I just came back from my first experience with visiting a school without my mom, and maybe many of you have done that already but I’ll bet that most of you visit your prospective schools with your parents ! haha.
So here are some things I am looking at and how they are similar to and different from what I was doing when looking at Hopkins 4 longgg years ago :D
1.) Program. Duh. This is a given–the school you choose should have the program or programs you want. Both have world renowned programs in public health and social sciences. Again, grad school is weird in that you have to know the field you want–a far cry from some of the ‘undecidedness’ you all may be feeling. And in college there’s room to float between majors but for grad school you kinda have to know what you want. This is scary especially since I don’t know the exact career I want..but I know I want this program.
They gave us a 'sample lecture' when I visited...it was actually awesome!
I came to Hopkins because of its Public Health program and as I get ready to leave this place, I see I couldn’t have made a better choice for myself. We have a lot of stellar majors in areas many don’t know about (Art History, Writing Seminars, French…) and in ones you probably do know about. Choose a school that has several good programs so if you change interests you still have options. For grad school you don’t really have that luxury so enjoy it now! ;)
2.) Resources. Both of these schools have wonderful resources in faculty, research opportunities, job placement, community engagement…I could go on and on. For grad school, it’s particularly important to look at advising as well as success with student job placement after graduation (because this economy is rough and a Master’s is supposed to get you a job…supposedly…). Both schools are also good at this…one has a particularly strong alumni network and one has numerous connections/networks throughout the city.
Hopkins as so many resources it’s crazy. Professors are wonderful, career services, grad school advising, extracurricular activities and community service opportunities are abundant, research is available to anyone who wants it…and more. I’ve been very well-taken care of in my 4 years here, I’m happy to say. :)
The building complex from when I visited...kinda cool looking right?
3.) Moneyyyyyyy. Man. Grad school does not have as much funding or merit scholarships as undergraduate institutions do. I got a small scholarship from one school and am waiting for a scholarship from the other, as well as need-based aid (yep…the FAFSA doesn’t go away even in grad school!) from both. Money was a HUGE part of my decision to come here. I am a Baltimore Scholar which means my being from Baltimore City and getting into Hopkins (same standards as everyone else!) means that my tuition has been paid for these 4 years. If I didn’t have this I wouldn’t have been able to come here. Grad school is a bit tougher in that these kind of scholarships are extremely rare; most of the aid is loans. This is probably the toughest part of the process for me because being financially free (or almost free) after graduation is extrememlyyyyyy important to me. If this matters to you when you’re making a decision, pay close attention to it! Especially if you plan to do more schooling after undergrad.
4. Location. For grad school, I’d say this is very important for two different reasons–job placement and just plan ol ambiance. A lot of people choose a grad school’s location based on whether they’ll want to live and work there after graduation, while others relocate after graduation. For a lot of you guys, this is probably not a concern because furthering higher education is popular and even with a bachelor’s you’ll travel to find a job. A Master’s degree is a huge investment in finding a job and by then you’re independent so grad school locations mean a lot in that regard. But for undergrad, enjoy exploring somewhere new! Hopkins is absolutely beautiful and that has definitely added to my undergraduate experience.
When I visited my schools, this ambiance was missing from one because of the location. Since I had this beauty in undergrad and I’m going to grad school more for the education and real life skills I’m more willing to give this up (albeit with a sad face! :( ) than I would be for undergrad. If you can, choose a college that “feels” pretty to you. I cannot tell you how much better my Hopkins experience has been because of the grass and students lounging outside and having that community feel. And in terms of more practical reasons…Hopkins is in an area that’s great for community engagement and service, near D.C., and is cultural and fun!
You can see New Jersey from the top of one of the buildings
You can see the Verrazano Bridge too!
It was strange to tour the school without my mother being all motherly and inundating the tour guide and faculty with questions and it was weird not having her by my side pointing out important aspects of a school that I should pay attention to. But you have to grow up sometime, right! :) Good luck to you all with your impending college decisions and remember to keep all of these things (and more!) in mind!
What’s one of the most important things to you about choosing a school?
When I was choosing colleges back in Spring of 08 (WOW! I am so old!), I looked at everything from food to class variety to campus architecture to majors….the usual. But perhaps one of the most important things to me was diversity. Now, I usually use this word judiciously because I think it has the tendency to become a euphemistic, PC word at times–so I mean it here as having different types of people ethnically/racially (and race is a weird term in itself but I’ll go with it for now). I am basically obsessed with learning about different cultures, languages, races, and ethnicities–often one of the first things I’ll as a person is about his/her background…and people are happy to talk to me about it haha. Call me nosy, but I am fascinated with this stuff! I met my best friend here by first asking her name then trying to guess her ethnicity…this is probably strange but it’s part of my charm, maybe? My aim is not to make a spectacle of people’s differences if you were thinking that; rather, it stems from a deep appreciation of differences and how beautiful they are.
At a retreat!
I ended up narrowing my choices to Johns Hopkins and a really small liberal arts school in MD. It came down to the major I wanted (go Public Health!) and diversity at each school. Hopkins is not the MOST diverse school I’ve come across, as in there is a white and Asian majority, but it’s definitely getting more and more so with each incoming class. I knew I wanted to be at a place where there were different types of people from different places, countries, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds because I learn so much from other people. Food, clothing, customs…all of it enlightens me and I’m happy to learn.
Why is this important?
Honestly, it’s very dangerous to not have an awareness of people different from ourselves. It makes us close- minded and ignorant, and ignorance often leads to arrogance. One of the biggest problems I tend to have with people in general is the unwillingness to see issues from different points of view and an unwillingness to learn. I have found that students at Hopkins are generally open to this (learning), but as with any school, there are those people who insist on being aloof and uninformed. However, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had honest and meaningful conversations about diversity, acceptance, racism, classism… I have a few friends who came to college clueless about other ethnicities and races because of where they lived and how they were brought up…and through conversations such as these (along with their desire to learn), they’ve become more knowledgeable. So have I.
Lunch with my fellow RAs...Haitian, Taiwanese, Jewish, Persian, Colombian, Brazilian, Italian...all represented here :)
What have I learned?
Man I could go on for days about this. I’ve learned so much about Islam and religious customs of Muslim students (we have a relatively sizable population here, and just yesterday I attended an “Islamophobia” talk). I’ve learned about other Christian denominations. I’ve learned about many countries in Africa and how they are similar yet different…I’ve learned about the U.S. South and the West and the Midwest…about Latin American customs, about the differences between Brazilian Portuguese and Portuguese Portuguese…how different Africans and African-Americans are…I really could go on so I’ll stop there. :D And, I’ve learned how purposefully all of these differences can be interwoven. I’ve found that given a safe space to discuss issues such as these, people will talk. And I love and welcome that, always.
My first introduction to Hopkins was through an admissions group called the Multicultural Student Volunteers. This group does some really good work and one of its aims is to recruit racially/ethnically underrepresented students (pertaining to Hopkins’ campus). We were shown numerous student groups, organizations, and annual events dealing with multiculturalism on campus and how many of them reached out to the campus to educate and inform. Here are a few (like 1/30th lol) of the big things that go on each year:
African Student Association “Beat of the Nile” Fashion Show
Temps d’Afrique Dance Team Showcase
Filipino Student Association Folk Dance Showcase
Dunbar Baldwin Hughes Theatre Company plays (historically African-American ones)
Culture Show (showcase of many of the dance groups we have)
Black History Month events (put on by the Black Student Union)
Chinese Lion Dance
JHU Gospel Choir
There is really much more but these are a few things that came to mind just now.
My Ghana group!
Someone asked a question on our Hopkins Forums a while ago regarding diversity at JHU and student interaction. I responded honestly and said that interaction between different types of students was enriching and abundant but that again, cliquey-ness happens. It happens everywhere and I am sure it happens at your current high schools. We have a tendency to feel more comfortable around people with whom we have more in common…that’s human nature and not necessarily a bad thing at all! However, my charge to you, prospective Blue Jays (!! :) ) as well as to students here is to step outside boundaries and comfort zones–you’ll be better for it. I know I am. As you can see from my pictures, I purposely surround myself with different types of people because I thrive off this. I thrive off learning about people different from myself and I know I’m wiser because of that. I have a diverse group of beautiful friends who have been with me through thick and thin here at the Hop, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Posted by Dominique D. | Posted on February 22, 2012
I wanted to do a blog about some unconventional favorites I’ve had here at Johnny Hop over the years…and things I’ll surely miss when I graduate. Here goes!
-FFC in the morning. Ok, so I live in the AMRs and I love the smell of FFC (the dining hall) in the morning…yum. You can smell it outside, too.
-Q level in MSE. I don’t drink coffee at all but I’m starting to not despise it…anyways Q level smells life coffee and bagels and the smell conjures up thoughts of studying and business typical in a college setting…I like it.
-Dorms…after they’ve been cleaned. ONLY IMMEDIATELY THEY HAVE BEEN CLEANED NO OTHER TIME. Am I weird for that one?
-Gilman. It smells smart and full of knowledge (ok maybe that’s still new building smell).
-Levering Food Court. It’s always bustling at lunch time and there are wonderful smells of pizza and chicken and sandwiches and soup.
-Printer room on M Level. Ok, I just really like the smell of paper…makes me feel like I’m getting work done because I’ve either printed a paper or printed readings.
-Turkey Sausage in FFC. I love these things! Soooo good.
-Plain Yogurt with Granola. Earlier in the year you wouldn’t have caught me eating this tart tangy sour stuff but now I can’t go without it, and even more interestingly I can no longer eat the sugary flavored yogurt! I love the cottage cheese as well! I don’t even eat the pastries and cakes in FFC because this has replaced those for me…yummy.
-Strawberry Kiwi and Mango Supreme Smoothies from Nolan’s. I love these things! So delicious. They have become part of my nightly study time routine.
-Southwest Chicken Sandwich from Charles Street Market. The perfect mix of wheat bread, chicken strips, chipotle sauce, bacon, and lettuce. Yum!
-Printing in MSE. Fine…we already discussed my weirdness with paper.
-Nolan’s. I love the sound of Nolan’s because it’s a mix: students playing pool, the big screen projector TV, workers talking, blenders going, and grills frying.
-People coming down the steps in my dorm… Ok let me explain. I am in AMR 2 and my room is right by the front door and in the stairwell. It gets loud and crazy more often than not so I appreciate when I hear slow, steady steps leaving the dorm to go to class. Yea..I know I am strange. :)
-Work. I work in the Office of Residential Life each Friday and I like how it sounds…phones ringing, students coming to get flyers approved and rooms reserved, my bosses having meetings. ResLife is a cool place because it stresses how important it is to ensure that students’ living situations are comfortable because honestly, where you live and how you feel there is a hugeeeeee part of the college experience.
-Swiping J Cards to get into the library. It makes this subtle but present clicking sound when you swipe your card to get in and for some reason, I like it.
-People walking dogs. Since our campus is so gorgeous, many people walk their dogs on campus and around. It gives Hopkins a happy and less secluded feeling.
-Students studying in Chocolotea, One World, or Carma’s. I don’t personally frequent these places but I love seeing students working there because it just makes school feel college-y and young. I have no idea if that made any sense haha.
-The stained glass windows in Gilman. I probably get distracted more often than not because I like sitting in the couches in front of these windows and I end up getting little work done.
-Friends at the study tables on A and M levels. I probably wouldn’t come to the library as much if I knew my friends weren’t there. I’m not saying that’s where I go to socialize but it’s nice to get some light reading done when I’m at a table with my buds. Hardcore studying= alone time, haha.
- Couches in Gilman. Man, those things are comfortable…I’m even sitting in one now as I type this entry :p
-My friends’ couches. Sometimes when I need to get away from the RA life I spend a ton of time at my friend’s apartments off campus.
-Being with my buddies…yea. :) Friends make or break the experience here.
Posted by Dominique D. | Posted on February 8, 2012
The title basically says it all…Here’s a look at my Wednesdays! Like the picture of the gas gauge, I run on E.
8:47pm-- I’m woken up by a text my friend sends me, asking why I don’t answer his texts. Guess I’m up for the day! haha.
10:00 am–I start (oops) reading a novel that’s due for my 1:30 Crime and Society class. It’s called Wayward Puritans and it’s about deviant behavior in society and how societies use that behavior to define themselves and to define crime. The author explained this history/sociology mix and agreed with the sociologist Emile Durkheim in that crime is a necessary [art of a healthy society, because it unifies. It creates a “we” and a “them.” Interesting, huh?
11:30am--I go to the Resident Advisor staff lounge (kind of like the headquarters for RA) and drop in to speak with my boss. One of the cool things about being an RA is that you are forced to build a serious rapport with your fellow staff members, because it’s an extremely hard job with difficulties that only RAs can understand. My boss Andrea is super open and always available to chat about what’s going on in our dorms.
12:00pm–Lunch at the Fresh Food Cafe. This is the main dining hall on campus and where mostly freshmen eat. People get tired of eating in the same place all the time but you know what? I’m a senior and I can’t say that I can complain. Maybe it’s because high school lunch was so traumatizing (can you say crusty bologna sandwiches and pizza with ice chips in it?)
1:30pm–My Crime and Society class meets in Hodson Hall. It’s so chill. Sooooo chill. We read a book or two each week and then the professor talks in the beginning. We have student presentations on the books and then discussion ensues. At the end we have a paper due. Bam. Perfect senior class–not too stressful but interesting enough that I’d want to learn about the topic at hand. It’s also my first Political Science class so a lot of the jargon is new to me, and there are a lot of analytical, argumentative future lawyers in this class…haha.
4:00pm–Class actually got out an hour ago (early) so now I’m reading for my Bloomberg class on Vaccines. Bloomberg is the graduate school of public health and all senior public health studies majors are required to take them, along with regular undergraduate classes at the Homewood campus. Today’s lecturer was particularly a big deal–DA Henderson was the guest. Now I’m sure you actually don’t know who that is but to public health majors, especially those involved in global health and eradication of diseases, he’s big. HE basically led the global effort to eradicate smallpox and was President George W.’s expert on bioterrorism. He lectured about how special the smallpoz vaccine was in that it was extremely effective and lasted and was easy to transport globally. Did you know that before needles many “shots” were given by placing a drop of liquid on the skin then scratching it about 15 times?
8:00pm--I get back to campus at about 7:30 and eat dinner really quickly before my Hopkins Christian Fellowship meeting. This week was cool because one of my fellow seniors spoke about her experiences at Hopkins and was really relatable. My Christian fellowship, if you didn’t know, is very special to me in that we have those relationships within.
10:00pm—Library time…I know, it’s late. But Wednesdays are so packed that I don’t have much time to do stuff during the day.
Wednesdays in a nutshell! When my Vaccines class doesn’t meet, I fill those spots up with Spinning class at the gym…that wreaks havoc on my butt but it’s fun nonetheless.
Posted by Dominique D. | Posted on January 23, 2012
Sooooooooooo I just came back from a Hopkins Intersession trip to Ghana! And it was probably the best experience of my life. Unlike many students at Hopkins, this was the first opportunity I had to travel outside of America–and I chose Africa. At first, my mother said no because she would have preferred my first international trip to be somewhere more like America, like Paris or Spain, for instance. But to make a long story short, I went to Ghana and am much better for it.
First of 4 hotels in which we stayed
We had a 12-day jam packed itinerary organized by the Aya Centre (an organization that orchestrates hotel stays, home stays, museum tours, lectures, etc…). Our stay included lectures about Ghana from professors at the University of Ghana, museums, tours of two slave castles, community service at local schools, and more. Ghana is a beautiful place, and my preconceived notions of Africa were both shattered and confirmed simultaneously. We always see Africa in the context of HIV/AIDS and “Feed the Children” but honestly, how often do you see Africa portrayed in a positive light? Granted, Ghana is very different from many other African nations and is better off in many ways, but it still faces problems the whole continent does–poverty, poor sanitation and living situations, corruption (our professor made a joke that corruption in Africa is seen as corruption but corruption in America is called capitalism–haha), lack of infrastructure, and a weak economy. I could honestly write a book on what I learned in these short 12 days but I’ll spare you and highlight some of the most salient things.
The Black Star is a very important symbol to Ghana...look it up ;)
People. The people of Ghana had a pride about them I don’t see often here. They were very welcoming and loved when we tried to learn their language (Twi, in the regions in which we were staying). To me, they were very “about their business” meaning that they did what they had to do. The children were precious. Every time we rode past children they stopped what they were doing and waved. I am not exaggerating. Children in all the regions we visited literally would stop and wave until we were out of sight, while the parents just loolked (lol). Ghana has a lot of “obrunis”–foreigners– and whether you’re black, white, Asian…you’re an obruni if you’re not Ghanaian. It was funny because they’d call us obrunis but we weren’t offended because it wasn’t made into a race thing. Obruni was just obruni. Now, I am not saying Ghana is a racial paradise because it is not. But it was cool being able to see how we were all foreigners to them but welcomed at the same time.
Selling. I have never seen so many people selling so many things in one place before. I was struck by how much people sold to make money–everything seemed to be commercial in terms of producing goods and selling them in shacks and on the streets (on their heads! They must have some strong neck power and balance because I would just drop everything). Men and women. I was concerned about the lack of work like we’re used to…in terms of construction workers, teachers, office assistants, project coordinators, etc. The system is different there and I’m still wondering how people make money by selling the same things day after day. And everyone sells the same things–food, jewelry, wood carvings.
Statue of Kwame Nkrumah--first president of Ghana
Infrastructure. This was the most striking to me, I think. Paved roads were minimal and everything was this red clay dirt. I cannot imagine what living in Ghana is like in the rainy season because I feel like everything would turn into mud. There were no street signs (I’m not even sure if there were street names) so I am still wondering how in the world people find their way around driving. Speaking of driving…whew. I couldn’t do it. The streets are narrow and there are many places where it was unclear as to on which side of the road we should have been. At one point we were driving on a highway with cars moving in both directions around us. At another point we took a “shortcut” and ended up on a precarious mountain and I think we all feared for our lives (thank God our driver was amazing). Most people don’t have running water and the water isn’t always clean. There isn’t much sewage infrastructure so many villages had trenches where waste went. There were large, open gutters lining each road that were uber dangerous because you could easily fall into one while walking. Plus, it’s gross in them.
Environment. We visited a rainforest and did a canopy walk and learned a little about what was being done to preserve it. We also visited a monkey sanctuary, a butterfly reserve, and a garden. I saw palm trees for the first time! In Ghana, of all places haha. It was disconcerting seeing how trash was burned there…like at one point we saw a pile of burning trash and saw the fumes. That’s very dangerous because some things that are burned release harmful substances. There was no recycling except for when you were at restaurants and they recollected your used Coke bottles so they could send them back to the factory to be reused. But then it made me think of America and our landfill garbage problem. We really do use way too much. The water pressure in our hotels was so low compared to here, also.
Education. Ghanaians are all about their education. It’s their way out of poverty and the path to a brighter future. I was so taken by how highly education was valued–even professors there were revered and paid muchhhhh more than professors here. We visited two schools for community service and the caliber of education and the intelligence of the students was so striking. One school was teaching English, Twi, and French to their students, starting in kindergarten! It made me really think about how notorious America is for being monolingual. Compared to our schools, their school buildings were awful…but they were thriving regardless. They stood up when we entered and were so respectful. Our tour guide was telling us about how private schools were better and educated students better than in public schools, and how hard he had to work at his public school just to make it through (he is completing his master’s currently).
Me at Wli falls!
So like I said, I could say a lotttttt more–but this will have to do for now! ;) Hopkins is absolutely terrific in that it allows us to go on trips such as these and I’m so fortunate to have been able to experience one before I graduate.
Posted by Dominique D. | Posted on January 2, 2012
“This is my now, and I am breathing in the moment
As I look around, I can’t believe the love I see
My fear’s behind me, gone are the shadows and doubt
That was then, this is my now!”
These are lyrics from a Jordin Sparks song–in fact, the one she sang when she won American Idol. I thought it was a fitting title, and yes, you are correct if you are currently thinking that this is going to be one of those “a new year is a’comin’” blogs :) I love Twitter so what I’ll do is take the current trending topics and write my thoughts about each, as I listen to my little brother play Call of Duty in the background…
Your best is your best.2011 was the year I received my worst grade to date at Hopkins, despite my hardest efforts. I was really upset until I was reassured that it really doesn’t matter in the long run. (wha?!? yes I said that…let it simmer and then let me know if you still don’t agree.)
Keep in touch with people from your past. See, I am a communicator. I always need to know how people are doing and what’s going on in their lives. And because of that, I’ve built friendships and relationships that I know will benefit me for a lifetime.
I can’t change what’s happened. I don’t know about you all, but something I really struggle with is regret and the “what ifs?” As I near the end of my time here at Hopkins,my head is filled with “what if I did this or didn’t do this? Why didn’t I join x or do more of y? Have I really missed out on fun? ARE THESE REALLY THE BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE?” Stuff like that. Well, I hope these aren’t the best years of my whole life but they’ve certainly been the best so far despite my what ifs…and I definitely have Hopkins to thank for a huge chunk of that.
I think I am gonna love grad school. Ok, so not really a lesson, but taking classes at Bloomberg School of Public Health has shown me that grad school will be fun…easier but more meaningful classes and meeting adult professionals in the field you love.
Getting my first community based internship. At Martha’s Place. One of the absolute best, meaningful experiences of my life. And it was thru Hopkins! Another reason to love this school.
Becoming an RA. I’ve gained so much real world experience and have met so many wonderful people. And a lot of crazy stories…haha
Spiritual Awakening. If you’ve been following my blog over the years, you know that my Christian faith is an integral part of me–and 2011 was very special in that regard.
My first apartment. I’ll just say that I’ll be lucky if I have another living experience close to being as good as that one was. :)
Graduation. I’m still kinda feeling blah about this but hopefully in a few weeks or so I’ll accept reality and embrace the fact that life moves on after Hopkins!
Ghana!I’ll be going to Ghana in one week for an Intersession trip; I am so excited! My first time out of the country!
No classes on Friday! Ok so this is a bit late, as manyyyyyyy people have schedules where they have no classes Fridays. Well as a science major with MWF classes every single semester, I didn’t have that luxury so this is a big deal for me (I have a few friends who only have classes Tuesday and Thursday!). I’m gonna dub them “Carefree Fridays” and designate each week an exploration…going to new non Charles Village restaurants and going to D.C. more often.
New experiences. Although I am on my way out, I still have a semester to go. Time to experience a lot of things I wished I could have done before but just wasn’t able to.
Life…At this moment, I have no idea what’s next for me. I am applying to 2 grad schools (yes 2 only…I hope I don’t regret that). I started the job search a few months ago but then I stopped to do this grad school thing. If I do get into either grad school, I’m still not convinced that I’d go this fall–I’m seriously thinking about deferring for a year. And if I do, I have no clue as to what I’ll be doing with that time. We’ll see!
2011 was cool and full of new experiences for me, both good, bad, hard– but all appreciated. I cannot wait to see what 2012 has in store–this is my now and the best is yet to come!