Guest Blog Celebrates Five Years!

Welcome to the Hopkins Interactive Guest Blog. For five years now, each week we feature a different Johns Hopkins student. To showcase the variety of posts featured here, we have built a Guest Blog Map dotted with each author’s hometown. We hope you’ll browse through and enjoy finding entries you may have never otherwise come across.

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A Student-Run Advertising Agency? Challenge Accepted.


Name: Julia Silverman

Year: Class of 2015

Major: Behavioral Biology

Hometown: Bronx, New York

A Student-Run Advertising Agency? Challenge Accepted.

Hey, my name is Julia and I am currently enrolled in a class at Hopkins that I can’t help but brag about. The class is called Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communication and is taught by Professor Leslie Kendrick. What sets this class apart from every other one I’ve taken at Hopkins thus far is the amount of hands-on advertising experience we have gotten in addition to typical class activities. The purpose of the class is to learn how to effectively work in an agency to promote a real product and see real results. In past years the class has represented Honda, The Navy SEALs, and Nissan. This year the class was given the opportunity to work with Hopkins alum, Keaton Swett, and his start-up MindSumo. MindSumo is a web platform that encourages users to compete in challenges sponsored by employers, in order to win prizes and get noticed by companies.  It’s a great resource for college students looking for internships or jobs.

I am personally in the Public Relations and Social Media Department with a group of six other hard working individuals. Using techniques explained in our textbook and lectures, we have developed a strategy to engage with our target market and generate buzz in the press. Our plan entails reaching out and communicating with local and national news sources, pitching press releases, and working with social media to engage the public in our campaign. We have two managers, Dave and Lauryn who spend a great deal of time putting everything together and running our team meetings.

Here I am, posing with members of the AdHop Creative team and the Hopkins Blue Jay!

Here I am, posing with members of the AdHop Creative team and the Hopkins Blue Jay!

As a Behavioral Biology major, a normal day in the AdHop Creative agency is dissimilar to all of the serious science lectures I usually immerse myself in. The modern and inviting Hodson classroom is the perfect environment for our interactive class. People don’t zone out and aimlessly scroll through Facebook on this class—we all sit engaged in what our classmates are sharing about their progress. The entire attitude of the class is very professional, but still maintains the comfortable feeling of an undergrad class. The different departments—PR and Social Media, Research, Advertising, Finance, Reports and Presentations, and Campaign Strategy and Implementation—all work extremely hard and the passion is felt buy the entire class when they share their updates.

As our campaign is in full swing we encourage everyone to look out for support our campaign and learn more about MindSumo. And keep an eye out for Sumos walking around campus!

A sumo on campus? #challengeaccepted

A sumo on campus? #challengeaccepted

Check out or for more information.

The Implications of Location Selection: Where To Chill


Name: Teddy Kupfer

Year: Class of 2017

Major: Philosophy

Hometown: Camp Hill, PA

The Implications of Location Selection: Where To Chill

I spend a lot of time in locations, as many do. Most, in fact, but let’s not get bogged down in semantics/specifics/statistics. The Johns Hopkins University is filled with locations. Allow me to explain why some of these are better than others.

The Gilman Atrium suits those who like to slide their soles on smooth marble while listening to TAs and students commiserate or professors propound pretension. (I.e. overhearing conversations in the atrium is fun.) Generally I frequent the atrium in between classes, intending to do work. It is impossible to do work in the atrium. The food is distractingly good (I have a thing for goat cheese) and the atrium itself is not quiet. Someone told me once that the weird bulbous things hanging down from the ceiling absorb sound, but I think they’re just highbrow art. DO chill in the atrium if you want to talk to people and bask in the scene, or if you are reeling from your last logic lecture, or especially if you want to feel like a true blue intellectual. It’s pretty cool in there. However, DO NOT chill in the atrium if you want to be productive/save money. (To reiterate, can anyone tell me what those things are that hang from the ceiling? I seriously have no idea.)

The Reading Room is where I go after spending fifteen-seventy five (how do you hyphenate written out values? Please comment with the correct usage) on (admittedly delicious) microportions of food and talking to people while thinking “I really need to go to the reading room now.” The white noise in the reading room comforts and soothes. Sunlight bathes the room in… sunlight. Everyone in the reading room is there to be productive; everyone in the reading room is on Facebook. Or asleep: the ambience is lulling. DO: go to the reading room if you want to feel productive. DO NOT: go to the reading room if you want to be productive. Actually, that’s kind of a lie, because with proper self-discipline the reading room is an amazing place to do work. I just don’t have proper self-discipline.

Your Respective Rooms are great places for many things. Spending the majority of your time there… is what many people do. DO: hang out alone in your room if you enjoy it when people stereotype Hopkins students. DO NOT: hang out alone in your room all the time, unless you want to.

It is the same with The Library except DO go to the library if you actually have to get work done. The draconian decibel regulations do their job, and it is always near-silent on levels B and below. Also – it may seem mundane to us, but it goes four stories underground. I think that is kind of awesome. And of course, Brody. Brody is good, too, I guess.

Finally, there are many places to chill for those who are social. (The definition of “social” can be found on various definitory websites.) Regaling you with tales of activities occurring here would be improper, and probably confusing to some people… DO: be social if you want to. Seriously, just do whatever you want.

Phi Mu’s New Pledge Class


Name: Lauren Marrazzo

Year: Class of 2016

Majors: International Studies and Writing Seminars

Hometown: Millstone, NJ

Phi Mu’s New Pledge Class

This past February, the Phi Mu Gamma Tau chapter welcomed 47 new motivated, fun-loving freshmen and sophomores into our Hopkins family. We could not be more thrilled to have such an accomplished and driven 2014 pledge class, and we know that these girls will carry on Hopkins’ oldest sorority’s tradition of sisterhood, philanthropy, and academic excellence.

My beautiful new sisters on bid night!

My beautiful new sisters on bid night!

By accepting their bids to Phi Mu, these 47 girls have joined a group dedicated to both our national and chapter philanthropic foundations. Just this past year, our chapter raised $5,380 for our national philanthropy, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, and $3,234.65 for the Katie Oppo Research Fund.  The Katie Oppo Research Fund is an organization particularly dear to the Gamma Tau chapter since our fundraising efforts honor the memory of Katie Oppo, a Phi Mu Gamma Tau sister who passed away from a rare form of ovarian cancer on April 11, 2011.

Junior Arafel Buzan eating cookies with the kids at Johns Hopkins Children’s Miracle Hospital. Having a Miracle Network Hospital so close allows us to be directly involved in our national philanthropy.

Junior Arafel Buzan eating cookies with the kids at Johns Hopkins Children’s Miracle Hospital. Having a Miracle Network Hospital so close allows us to be directly involved in our national philanthropy.

Raising money for these foundations requires hard work, dedication, and creativity, which are all exemplified through the uniqueness of Phi Mu’s fundraisers. Our annual “Phi Mu Presents: Hopkins’ Most Eligible Bachelor” is a pageant style competition among the fraternities at Hopkins, and our open Madewell shopping event involves a discounted shopping spree at the popular retailer, with a portion of sales given to charity. My favorite event is Pastathon, which is pretty much exactly what the name implies—an all you can eat pasta party, with proceeds going to our national philanthropy, CMNH.

Hopkins’ Most Eligible Bachelor competitors

Hopkins’ Most Eligible Bachelor competitors.

These events are always crowd-pleasers, and we’re raising more and more money each year as a result of the generosity and goodwill of the Hopkins community. However, the events would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our sisters. We’re confident that these 47 new members will continue to uphold this tradition of philanthropy, and live by our motto of love, honor, and truth. With that said, four of our fabulous new Phi Mu freshman would like to share what joining Phi Mu has meant to them.


Tyana looking classy and stylish, as always

Tyana looking classy and stylish, as always

Tyana Warren, a pre-med neuroscience major from Arlington, Texas, has discovered just how welcoming the Phi Mu sisterhood can be:

“Within the first week of joining Phi Mu, girls that I had never seen, met, or talked to were waving at me, stopping to talk or hug me, and messaging me to grab coffee or dinner. I got at least 100 friend requests on Facebook within 24 hours, and Phi Mu seniors knew my name and face in public. It sounds weird, but it meant the world to me because I didn’t know a lot of girls in my pledge class and in Phi Mu in general.”


Libby (and a mysterious hand) looking absolutely adorable!

Libby (and a mysterious hand) looking absolutely adorable!

Libby Ford, an English major and French minor from New York City, has learned to appreciate the uniqueness of Phi Mu, and is excited to add her own personality to such a special group of women:

“I am so glad that Phi Mu has given me the opportunity to meet a group of young women that are so uniquely interesting and accomplished. Without Phi Mu, I’m not sure that I would have had the chance to meet these girls and make these new friends.  I’m also proud to add to the uniqueness of Phi Mu through my sense of humor as well as my positive outlook and attitude in all that I do.”


Victoria’s smile could brighten anyone’s day!

Victoria’s smile could brighten anyone’s day!

Victoria Michaels, an International Studies and French double major with a minor in Theatre Studies, is excited to expand her boundaries and try new things with Phi Mu:

“For one of my many sister dates, I went with a few girls to a fantastic Afghani restaurant in Mount Vernon during restaurant week. It was a place I would have never gone to on my own, but the food was beyond yummy, the atmosphere was so cool, and the conversations were great. It was a great night and I can’t wait to go back for more food!”


Drishti rocking her Bid Day t-shirt, designed by our very own Ingrid Ma!

Drishti rocking her Bid Day t-shirt, designed by our very own Ingrid Ma!

Drishti Chawla, a Biology major with a minor in Bioethics and Spanish Language and Hispanic Culture, is excited to share her rich cultural background with Phi Mu:

“I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood in Boston. Most of my friends were West Indian, Hispanic, or African-American. It was a very small and tight community so their cultures sort of brushed off on me. I am pretty much fluent in Spanish, and I can also speak Hindi and Punjabi. I like to think of myself as very cultural, but not only of the Indian culture. I can’t wait to help with recruitment next year to help bring more diversity into Phi Mu!”


We are so excited to have these exceptional women in Phi Mu, and can’t wait to see what they accomplish during their next few years at Hopkins!

Strangers No More


Name: Wei-Shi Lin
Year: Class of 2016
Majors: Writing Seminars and English
Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan
Strangers No More

College is an intricate world of exploration and goals and passions and interests and confusion and interactions with a million different people who have the potential to completely change you even though they might be only a fleeting presence in your life. And with college, as with many things in life, you kind of have to dive in head first, open-minded, learning to trust the hands and the hearts of the people – those special select few – who will want to get to know your favorite color and the way you drink your coffee black – two sugars, and who will notice that face you make when you get defensive, and who will love the way you look at the world.

My Big, Connor, and I at the Somo concert, The Ride Tour.

My Big, Connor, and I at the Somo concert, The Ride Tour.

The start of my adventure, once I was brave enough to take the leap into the scary depths of university life, brought me – encouraged by the wonderful person who became my Big – into the loving circle of Alpha Phi Omega and the brothers – read: siblings – that have become such a significant part of my life. Quick to welcome new faces and eager to speak of their passion for service and their friendships in the brotherhood, APO, our co-ed service fraternity, intrigued me. And this is where I found a niche. These are the people who drop everything to be there for each other, who protect and love so unconditionally. Within APO, we quickly learn of and cherish the talents of our brothers, proudly speaking to others of brothers who play sports, do photography, make films, act, dance, cook, lead, and otherwise flourish in so many ways. We’re able to so easily become a part of each other’s lives and my brothers are the ones I turn to first. One of the things I love most about APO, however, is that it’s never only about the bonds formed within the APO family, but also about reaching out to the community and getting to know the kids, the women, and the families that we help in our service.


Brother Allen Zhang as a clown for the kids at Carnival.

Brother Allen Zhang as a clown for the kids at Carnival.

I suppose the writer in me has always been fascinated by people, caught up in the fact that this person has a scar below the ear and that person bites her fingernails, obsessed with the stories of the strangers I see, wondering what ‘happy’ feels like for them, and whom they love. People are unbelievably interesting. Within APO, we become characters in each other’s stories as friendships evolve through rush, and pledge, and brotherhood. But even beyond that, with APO service projects, I’m introduced to so many different people with so many different lives. And these stories begin to matter as well. I met a mother last spring who brought her children to our carnival every year. She had wanted to be a teacher, and had even started getting her degree. But the kids are more important, she says, and she had to stop her education to care for her daughters. “It’s worth it,” she told me while handing a lollipop to her younger daughter. “I’d give up anything for these two, any day.” Or meet Trinity, age ten, and her seven-year-old sister Ariel, boisterous and huggable, who run to greet us every Monday at the Homework Club. This Thanksgiving, they wrote down that they were grateful to have food, grateful that mom loves them, and grateful for us, the tutors.

And captivated by the stories from mothers with weary eyes but soldier hearts who know that their love for their children is all they need, or appreciated by kids we help through struggles and with whom we celebrate successes, the brothers become so passionately involved in our community. For me, Alpha Phi Omega has always been about both the heart-warming dynamics of the fraternity and the service that we do. It’s the love and support for each other and the need to care for as many people as possible in the community at large that make us Alpha Phi Omega and hold us together. And through all the stories yet to be shared, it’s nice to know I always have my bros.

My pledge class – Alpha Zeta – shares a group hug

My pledge class – Alpha Zeta – shares a group hug

The More You Know


Name: Simon Marshall-Shah
Year: Class of 2016
Majors: Cognitive Science and Public Health
Hometown: Boston, MA
The More You Know
One of the highlights of my sophomore fall semester was determining that I could double major in Public Health and Cognitive Science without overloading my schedule too much in the next couple of years. Double majoring is neither uncommon at Hopkins nor particularly difficult, depending on the majors, of course; I had simply chosen two without any overlap in major requirements as if I had subconsciously decided that spending more time in class is just what I really needed. (Just kidding, we all know that if that were my goal I would be an engineer. [Just kidding, they do have fun, too!]).
cognitive science
The relationships between Cognitive Science and Public Health

The relationships between Cognitive Science and Public Health

The reason that I am excited to be double majoring is that I get to explore more than one area that genuinely fascinates me. The truth is, many majors do not intersect harmoniously in the workplace (at first glance, at least), and Public Health and Cognitive Science is one of these combinations. At this point I see myself doing work in the field of Public Health—perhaps the field of mental health, which I think incorporates Cognitive Science nicely.
However, this combination is only a narrow piece of the Public Health pie, so my courses in Cognitive Science help me explore broader questions that intrigue me and that I want to learn more about, such as how we process language, how we can model the mind with computer programs, how children learn, and how the mind makes sense of the world.

 I also work at Outdoor Pursuits and with the entire Experiential Education community at Hopkins, and through them I have recognized how important learning for learning’s sake is. I am always learning new canoe strokes, new knots, new ice-breaking games, new group management techniques, and new facts about the outdoors from other instructors. This is true not only on the trips I have taken but also through conversations with other leaders; the knowledge is continual and cumulative. Organizing Pre-Orientation trips for next summer (and having led a Pre-Orientation trip at end of last summer) also allows me to reflect on the fact that I was gaining new knowledge throughout my entire Pre-Orientation trip at the start of my freshman year. Much of it was far from academic, but it was just as important to my time at Hopkins, and I hope to create a similar experience for incoming freshmen.

Canoeing and Hiking One (aka CAHONES) on Pre-O 2013!

Canoeing and Hiking One (aka CAHONES) on Pre-O 2013!

Organizations like Experiential Education allow people to step away from their studies and learn something new—because they are eager, willing, and curious—but I have been struck by the enthusiasm for learning, knowledge, and self-growth for its own sake that surrounds me at Hopkins, outside of the program, as well. It’s easy to assume that students who are driven and receive a great education care solely that their work in college eventually lead to a well-paying job or illustrious title; they learn only what they need to know to do well in the world. Yet what has become abundantly clear to me over the past few semesters is that many students at Hopkins also have their own respective goals for their own learning—including Phoenician history, philosophy as a self-quest for truth and morality, food policy and education policy in inner cities, and global wind patterns, which are a few of the interests I have discussed with friends. These pursuits may not lead them to the most profitable professions but they will have gained knowledge that they truly appreciated learning.

Through these conversations, I have come to appreciate the vast number of genuine interests that thrive on this campus, something I’m sure I will continue to discover in the years to come.

Outdoor Pursuits


Name: Jenna McLaughlin

Year: Class of 2014

Major: Writing Seminars

As a senior in the fall semester of my final year at Johns Hopkins, I find myself doing some obligatory reminiscing about my experiences here—what I’ve learned, what I’ve done, and what I’ll take away from Homewood.

When thinking about where and from whom I’ve learned the most valuable lessons, I find myself picturing a bright orange sea kayak.

One might expect me to picture the shelves of A Level or the bright shining stained glass windows of the Learning Den, but the place that I associate with the real growing I’ve been doing the past four years— personally, intellectually, emotionally, and otherwise—is the Outdoor Pursuits Experiential Education program and everything that comes along with it.

For those involved in Outdoor Pursuits or the Johns Hopkins Outdoors Club, I don’t need to explain the magical mix of family, learning, leadership, and fresh air these programs bring to us. But for others, I’d love to give even a dose of how these programs have shaped and developed its members.

Before I arrived at Johns Hopkins, my parents decided to give me a graduation gift: a ticket to the Multi-Element Outdoors Pre-Orientation Trip. My family has always been outdoorsy, and I own my own sea kayak. We go hiking and boating and climbing in the North East all the time. Naturally, I wanted to be involved in a week long outdoors trip with my fellow future classmates. What could be better? I’d get the chance to meet a few people, camp out, learn some new outdoors skills like rock climbing, white water rafting, tent pitching, and more. But what I got out of Pre-Orientation was so much more than that.

Pre-Orientation is a crazy mixture of exuberant singing, late night card playing, “manning up” to finish all the food, leaving no trace in nature, casual soccer juggling circles, fireside conversations, playing mind games, no showers, no phones, no clocks, and pure bonding time. People got to know you at your most tired state, your most gross, and your most natural. I remember arriving back on campus and my parents telling me they’d never seen me that way before—so grown up, proud, and sure of myself, as I walked into my new freshman suite with a backpack bigger than me and a week’s worth of sweat and grime coating my skin. I was really ready to begin the newest phase of my life, and had an army of new friends to face it with.

My Pre-Orientation leaders urged me to apply to be an Outdoor Pursuits leader after we returned to campus. However, I was heavily involved in the new atmosphere of college, having recently earned a spot on the women’s club soccer team and easing into a demanding course load and enjoyable social life. I liked the freedom, and I wasn’t sure I had the time and money to apply and do all the training that comes along with being an outdoors instructor. I missed the deadline my freshman year, but that didn’t keep Outdoor Pursuits out of my life for very long.

By the time my sophomore year rolled around, I found myself going on a lot of weekend trips with Outdoor Pursuits—especially sea kayaking. I’d been a touring kayaker since I was 10 or 11, and had pretty decent paddling skills. I knew most of the basic strokes, the endurance it took to paddle long distances. And a lot of my close friends were Outdoor Pursuits leaders, including my soccer captain and Pre-O leader.

That year’s intersession, she convinced me to go on an 11 day sea kayaking expedition in the Florida Everglades. I was the only member of that trip that wasn’t already a leader, but I was dedicated to keeping up and proving myself. It was the most amazing trip I’ve ever been on by far. I saw the most incredible wildlife, including manatees, dolphins, tropical birds, and sea turtles, camped on an abandoned ruin in the middle of the Ten Thousand Islands, learned how to pitch a tent in the sand, and got dangerously (though safely!) close to a few alligators. I developed close relationships with the professional leaders involved and my fellow students. After going on this intersession trip, I decided that my junior fall would be the time I’d finally apply to be a leader.


Last fall, I went through the rigorous application, interview, and final selection process and was chosen to join the Outdoor Pursuits sea kayaking program—one of the oldest new instructors chosen on record. Since then, I have attended countless new instructor meetings, sea kayaking trainings, day trips, and went through the Wilderness First Responder course to learn wilderness medicine. These lessons didn’t feel like school at all though. Wilderness First Responder (fondly called WFR, or Woofer), taught me responsibility and leadership in dire situations that I may never have had the confidence for previously. I was a member of the first responder team to pass the exam first in the class. I learned that being a Writing Seminars major didn’t hold me back from excelling in a practical, scientific, medical practice. Countless hours in the classroom and practicing posed medical emergencies, out in the woods at freezing temperatures for hours late at night, brought me more joy and enrichment than I could possibly have imagined. It was an especially rewarding experience, as I arranged an agreement with the Outdoor Pursuits Office to work during the week on paperwork to pay for part of the course.

With Outdoor Pursuits, I’ve cross-trained in white water kayaking and done my best to learn challenging new skills in the coldest water I’ve ever felt over spring break, bonded with students from every class at Johns Hopkins, learned how to tie cool knots, and really developed myself.


A few weeks ago, a brand new crop of instructors were chosen, and I got the chance to write recommendations and help instruct applicants on the finer points of leading sea kayaking trips. I got to see my grand-little in my sorority excel in the field, and be chosen as one of the four new sea kayaking leaders. In just a short year, I’ve been able to learn such an incredible amount of technical and emotional life skills, making me a much more confident leader—ready to enter the next phase of my life—the scary real world of the job market. With Outdoor Pursuit’s help, I don’t have any doubts I’ll be ready.


Snapshots of Student Services: Ellen S., Pre-Professional Advising


Name: Ellen S. Snydman

Office: Pre-Professional Advising

Position: Associate Director

As Hopkins students, we have access to amazing student services and the people that work for them. Read these posts to learn more about them! 

As a Baltimore native, I admittedly sometimes take for granted all the interesting and unique aspects of living within the Baltimore metropolitan area.  We have delicious restaurants, fun street fairs, historic sites, a bustling Inner Harbor, spectacular musical venues, and world champion sports teams.  But I never lose sight of the fact that I work at Johns Hopkins University, one of the most prestigious universities in the country.  Hopkins is a big part of my family’s life—my father, sister, and niece all graduated from the university, so we come from a long tradition of Blue Jay pride.  And although I did not study here, I have worked in Pre-Professional Advising for more than four years, and continue to be wowed and impressed by the young adults I meet on a daily basis.

When talking about pre-professional advising, let me first define what we mean by the term.  On the homepage of our website, it says “We serve current students and alumni who are pursuing career interests in the healthcare or law professions. Our role is to help you make informed decisions in such areas as pre-health course planning, securing relevant experience, overcoming obstacles, and navigating the application process.”  A great deal of what we do involves pre-med advising to assist you in becoming a competitive applicant for medical school, but we also advise students who are interested in dental and other health professions such as osteopathic medicine, physician assistant, veterinary medicine, and nursing.

Rest assured that you do not need to decide on a pre-health trajectory the minute you step on campus as a freshman.  Some students do enter Hopkins completely sure of a career in medicine.  Yet others do not realize it until later in their academic career, and that’s fine, too.  There is no rush to the pre-med process…the timeline you choose is ultimately your own decision.  In fact, the majority of our applicants apply as seniors or alumni, and the national average age of a first year medical school is 24.  It takes a great deal of organization, time management, focus, patience, and maturation to prepare for your medical or dental school application, and it’s a gradual process that isn’t achieved overnight.

As you explore Hopkins and the idea of pre-health studies, I encourage you to keep in mind the following:

  • There is no such thing as a pre-med major.  You can choose any major you wish and still take additional pre-med coursework to be considered a pre-med student.
  • We encourage you to pursue your interests both in the classroom and beyond.   You should, however, be careful not to over-commit to involvements outside of the classroom.
  • When you apply to medical school, you will need to demonstrate strong academics, a commitment to serving others, and medically relevant experiences.  Research is not a requirement for most medical schools, but the majority of our undergraduates do obtain research experience while here.
  • In addition, medical schools also want to see that you know how to achieve balance and diversity in your life, so they’ll be looking for extra-curricular activities such as participation in student groups, athletics, and musical pursuits.

We’re pleased that you’re considering a health-related career at Johns Hopkins University and wish you all the best in your future planning.  Although we don’t offer pre-med advising to non-admitted students, we look forward to working with you as a freshman.



Name: Caitlin Dwyer

Hometown: Northport, NY

Year: Class of 2017

Intended Plan of Study: Writing Seminars

“This is the train to…Penn Station. This station is…Penn Station,” the monotone automated voice blares over the loudspeaker. I groan, realizing I have to open my eyes, not because I’m awake, but because in less than a minute, I’m going to transform into a speed-walking, fast-talking, “move or I’ll move you” New Yorker. Whoever coined the phrase, “concrete jungle,” was truly brilliant. The commuter scene is comparably tame, but once you descend those foul-smelling yet surprisingly magical subway entrances, you might as well sign up for the Hunger Games. As the train comes to a halt, I hop out of my turquoise vinyl seat, sling my black tote over my shoulder, and take a deep breath. Ten hours from now, I’ll be searching for a seat on the train back to Huntington, Long Island. Slipping through the sea of suit jackets and oxford button-ups, I find myself facing a poster for Bloomberg Businessweek, advertising the fish market in Japan. Chuckling to myself, I remember SOHOP, where the tour guides pointed out the Bloomberg paths. Bloomberg went to Hopkins. I’m going to Hopkins. Maybe that’s why I’m spending the summer in New York City, interning at one of the largest publishing houses in the world. While my friends are lounging around, sleeping until noon, and corralling eight-year-olds at summer camp, I’m going to be working in an office building. Some days, I miss last year’s job teaching at a creative camp for children with special needs, but other times, I’m glad I chose to step out of my comfort zone.

Sometimes, for lunch, I'd go to Eataly, this incredible Italian marketplace. They had the best coffee!

Sometimes, for lunch, I’d go to Eataly, this incredible Italian marketplace. They had the best coffee!

As I climb the stairs connecting Penn Station to New York City, I inhale the aromas of stale peppermint gum, cigarettes, and garbage frying on the city sidewalks. Right away, I see that the area surrounding Penn is a contradiction, walked by wingtips and workboots, characterized by briefcases and bag ladies. My eardrums are ambushed by the piercing sounds of brakes being hit too soon, horns hollering, and the resounding voices of street peddlers “ten dollaring.”

When I was younger, I hated the city. I hated the noise, I hated the traffic, but most of all, I hated the smell. Now, those things don’t bother me as much. I find New York intoxicating, because no matter what you do or where you go, there’s a measure of uncertainty, an element of doubt.  I remember this one time when my friends and I went into the city for a birthday. We planned to go to this cool taco place in Nolita (“It’s LITERALLY Mexico!” my friend Kevin exclaimed), see my friend’s older brother at work, and go to the Strand bookstore. No one bothered to check the weather beforehand—it was warm and sunny on Long Island—so when we emerged from Penn to find ourselves in a hailstorm, we were surprised to say the least. After four hours of battling the storm and sidling against buildings to keep dry, we finally crashed in a tiny coffeehouse near Gramercy Park. Looking at each other’s faces, drenched with cold sweat and raindrops, our eyes settled on my friend Lara, who was wringing out her hair. There was a sizable puddle beneath her ponytail.

“What?” she asked defensively as we all burst out laughing.

New York is the kind of place where you need to take everything one step at a time. You have to be able to adapt to missed subway trains, keep your cool in traffic, and brush off any “talkers” (those sketchy guys on the subway who compliment your purse and explain how “you’ll make a helluva wife one day”). The city is a college in itself, where life skills are exchanged by the passerby. But its most famous class is “Independence 101.”  New York has bestowed upon me a new definition of self-sufficiency, one that extends itself to life at Hopkins: functioning in the real world, without parents. I feel like an adult each morning as I button my blouse, zipper my pencil skirt, and step into my trusty beige flats.

Despite my valuable quotidian lessons in street smarts, I can’t help but wonder what I would be doing now, if I were home. It’s the Monday after high school graduation, three weeks into my internship, and technically my first Monday as a “college student.” I’m pretty sure (based on last night’s Twitter feed) that the majority of my classmates are sleeping in. During the three weeks between the last day of high school and graduation weekend, I had been looking forward to graduation. Working toward graduation. But now I’m graduated, and I don’t feel any different, I realize as I swipe my MetroCard at the Herald Square subway station.

My high school has a tradition where seniors, at 3:00 on the last day of school, can toss their notes into the Commons. By the time we were done, there was so much paper on the floor, it felt like walking through a foot of snow!

My high school has a tradition where seniors, at 3:00 on the last day of school, can toss their notes into the Commons. By the time we were done, there was so much paper on the floor, it felt like walking through a foot of snow!

I still feel torn, I decide, as I pass through the turnstile. Torn between relishing the last moments of childhood and diving headfirst into adulthood.

On the last day of school, I had the following conversation with a fellow student:

“What are you doing over the summer?” he asked.

“I’m working,” I replied, finishing my signature in his yearbook.

“Where?” he absent mindedly asked as he signed mine.

“The city.”

That certainly caught his attention.

“Like an internship?”


“Why would you do that?”  Not exactly the reaction I was anticipating.

“I’m really interested in publishing.”

“You’re a writer right? That might be cool, to get your new book published.” If only it was that easy…

“That would be really cool,” I agreed, “but, um, my job’s in educational publishing, not trade. You know, writing multiple choice questions and stuff.”

“You’re the only person I know who would start writing textbooks the day after you turn them in.”

“It’s just for experience. For the resume.”

“But you’re giving up your last real do-nothing summer. When do you start?”


“Today’s Friday.”

“I know.”

“But what about prom, and graduation?”

Prom and graduation were a few weeks after school ended. I started commuting, and then took off a few days of work to finish high school. Prom was on a Thursday. I wore a teal chiffon one-shoulder dress, silver heels, and jewelry that combined motifs of crystals and pearls. I was going for a neo-Gatsby look. My town has a pre-prom celebration in the Village Park every year, where the kids pose for photos and wait for their limos and party buses. Even though I was with my friends, my family, and an entire community of familiar faces, I felt out of place posing for a prom portrait. I felt as if I no longer belonged at my high school. After spending days in the city on my own, living in the “Real World” between the hours of seven a.m. and eight p.m., prom no longer seemed like such a big deal. Prom is supposed to celebrate the end of high school, but for me, high school ended on the last day of classes.

“So where did you do your undergrad again?” one of the editorial assistants asks as we grab our morning cups of coffee. She takes Decaf, while I opt for Strong.

Caught off guard, I pause, and tell her, “Johns Hopkins.” My pencil skirt is suddenly constricting, and tiny beads of sweat form on the back of my neck. Feeling like a little girl playing dress-up, I wonder if everyone in the office (besides my supervisor) assumes I’m a graduate student. Deciding not to lie, I come clean, and she looks at me with disdain, though she tries to mask it with a practiced smile. To her, I’m no longer the go-to-girl for copy editing, multimedia searches, and question-writing.

I’m a little girl playing dress-up.

First day of kindergarten, first day of work.

First day of kindergarten, first day of work.

Seuss, Shakespeare, and Sickness


Name: Will Krause

Hometown: Linwood, NJ

Year: Class of 2017

Intended Plan of Study: History

I haven’t vomited in over a year.

The last time I puked was during my Literature Class; we were having a roundtable discussion comparing Huckleberry Finn with Conrad’s Heart of Darkness when I realized that there remained, in my book bag, a thermos full of cold coffee from lunch. Not really thinking about anything other than how much of a weirdo Kurtz was, I drank it in less than thirty seconds and quickly excused myself to the bathroom once I realized the crimes I had committed against my innards. While that night’s assignment came out of Ms. McLaughlin’s mouth, twenty-four ounces of coffee and a fried eggplant sub from Rose’s Garden Grill came out of mine.

Some puppies, to help get that image out of your head.

Some puppies, to help get that image out of your head.

Vomiting, like eating, is a primal human experience–anyone who has ever been a person can attest to the initial queasiness, the feelings of hopelessness and submission leading up to the vomit, and the relief afterwards that all characterize the event of throwing up.

My friends and family tell me that I vomit more frequently than other people do, and they are correct; when a normal person eats something that disagrees with them, they lay down, close their eyes, and just feel better (I suspect ghosts are involved). For me, the Road to Feeling Better is a long, scary one, and getting to the destination almost invariably requires me to drive the porcelain bus (or the pavement bus, or the metal bus, or the ceramic bus–I have a very colorful vomiting history). My stomach is weaker than most.

The first battle in the War Against my Gag Reflex contains all the tragedy of a Shakespearean drama. It has the unity of time (all taking place on March 16th, 2001, otherwise known as my Kindergarten classes’ Dr. Seuss Day), the unity of place (it went down in the lunchroom and only the lunchroom), and the unity of action (there was one main conflict: William versus Lunch).

Can you spot the differences between these two pictures? Hint: There are seven.

Can you spot the differences between these two pictures? Hint: There are seven.

Act One introduces the vigorous young hero, a Kindergarten me. Like the Scottish King or the Moor of Venice, I achieve fame by taking what is rightfully mine–my lunch to be specific, which consists (tastefully) of Green Eggs and Ham; the green dye in the eggs symbolize my blissful ignorance to the events unfolding.

Act Two involves me, like the Prince of Denmark, resolving to overcome a certain hesitation; in this instance, I ignore the atypical color of my meal and choose to enjoy it regardless. Act Three–the climax–opens with me consuming my lunch. In the midst of this feast, I happen to gaze upon a boy whose name I will change to Rhymes-With-Shmyler (for legal purposes). As I watch my companion enjoy his respective Green Eggs from across the table, something awful happens in stomach, and as quickly as I had downed those eggs, I up them–all over Rhymes-With-Shmyler and his godforsaken unborn chicken. Acts Four and Five involve mops, nurses, and me, never ever eating eggs again.


Like, EVER.

Instead of killing all of the characters like Shakespeare would, the author of my tragedy simply killed my hopes and dreams of ever being able eat an egg without feeling nauseous.

This incident was just the beginning of a lifelong trend involving not being able to hold my food and then developing taste aversions. I stopped eating ham after one particular rewound-meal when I was six, and then I stopped eating meat all together when the mere smell of it would make me sick to my stomach.

I was eight.

During well-visits, my family would always inform the doctor of my unusual pickiness, to which the doctor would reply something along the lines of, “Eat better!” or, “See a nutritionist!” and then I would go home and eat one of the five foods that I could/would eat. Whenever I would try something new, my parents would always joke, “So does this make food number six?!”

I only liked the foods that I knew wouldn’t make me sick, and I took solace in plain and non-threatening meals. This lasted well into middle school, where, by eighth grade, I started to make slight progress in terms of my diet: I stopped ordering pasta salad “without the salad”, stopped declining offers to try things, and started bringing new foods into my diet.

AND I started eating the onion part of my onion rings.

AND I started eating the onion part of my onion rings.

My real progress happened within the last two years, during which I accepted taste-testing as a sort of hobby. My friends and I would root out the tiniest, most “hole in the wall” type restaurants, where we would pick the most bizarre items on the menu just for kicks. Weird foods soon became an integral part of my life. In the eighth grade, I wouldn’t even be able to identify what a tofu, quinoa, and avocado quesadilla was; now I can’t go without my weekly dosage. It goes without saying that I am much healthier.

As silly as it sounds, expanding my diet was a crucial part of my maturity. At some point during high school, I acknowledged the fact that, yes, I do have a weak stomach, but no, I shouldn’t allow that to dictate what I will or won’t eat. In truth, everyone has their taste aversions, whether they be to chocolate-covered pretzels, peanut butter, or iced tea. I am not special because I couldn’t hold my food as a child, and I knew that, sooner or later, only eating pasta and pizza was going to catch up with me. There are things in life that we simply have to stomach, despite how much we don’t want to; I wasn’t going to allow my fear of foods control my functioning. By shedding my incredibly plain diet, I essentially let go of a part of myself that was still clinging on to the comforts of childhood. As a child, I would never think that I would be the type of person who would compile a list of must-go restaurants in the Baltimore area before college, yet here I stand, eager to try new things and to further step out of my comfort zone.

Last week, I had eggs for the first time in twelve years (sunny side up, with toast). Truthfully, they weren’t that bad.

How Hopkins Kept Me Out of Handcuffs


Name: Maggie Weese

Hometown: Bel Air, MD

Year: Class of 2017

Intended Plan of Study: Biology and Global and Environmental Change and Sustainability

There were three things I wanted for Christmas last year:

1.      To win an aluminum can collection competition. My school was competing against some local rival schools and nothing says Christmas like creaming your rivals in recycling aluminum cans.

2.      The second season of Parks and Recreation because I want to be Leslie Knopp when I grow up. Also, that show is hilarious, and I enjoy laughing.

3.      To get into Johns Hopkins University.

I love Leslie so much that I dressed up as her for Halloween.

I love Leslie so much that I dressed up as her for Halloween.

My mom would laugh and sarcastically say, “Wow Maggie. You are really shooting low” and believe me, I knew I was asking for a lot this year. With winning the can off came the stench of fermenting soda cans for a whole month; with getting Parks and Recreation on DVD came my incessant laughter and distraction from everything else; and with getting into Hopkins came its $62,000 price tag. But I was hopeful.

Well, December 15th could not approach any slower. Every day I would check my email “just in case” they chose to let me know early. But they never did. Apparently the whole 15th thing was set in stone. Well, after weeks of “patience” (or as I call it, freaking out a lot), the 15th had arrived. Everyone I had ever talked to (including two random strangers at Panera) knew that to me, this was more than a date. It was a declaration of my future, with or without Hopkins.

Now I should mention, I am a very superstitious person. It has gotten to the point that I will wait until I feel like it is the “right time” to check grades, scores, or even college letters. What determines the right time? It always varies. If I have a really great day sometimes I cannot help but think “Oh wow! This luck will never slow down” so I check. Or a really bad day, “Wow today is horrible. It only makes sense to get better,” so I check. But a lot of times I am wrong. It is not a sure fire equation but it makes me feel better about checking things. For example, I waited about two weeks before checking my AP scores last year, not because I did not care but because “it was not the right time.” Call it insane, call it pointless, it is just a weird thing I do (and probably also insane and pointless).

So when the 15th came it is an understatement to say I was nervous and being over analytical. That day I had school (oh the days of high school) and then a Christmas party at five with the members of the research lab that I worked in. I decided that I was going to wait until the right moment to check my Hopkins status whether that was at the Christmas party, the moment the clock hit six, or a week later.

So there was school, a blur of numbers, figures, and cell membranes. Then getting ready for the Christmas party, grabbing anything red and green and throwing it on. The drive to the Christmas party, the reality beginning to set in that I was approaching the finish line of my waiting. Then the Christmas party. I cannot really tell you anything significant from that party. A lot of eggnog and Christmas sweaters. People constantly asking me if I had either checked or gotten in. My constant “Uh I have not checked yet. It does not come out till six o’clock.” And then came six o’clock. At that point no one else remembered. But I did. Still, it did not feel like the right time, so I continued to wait. Presents were exchanged, hugs shared, cookies offered. I just sat and waited.

Finally the party ended, and I hauled my way back to my car. The drive was about 40 minutes and I knew it would be pure agony sitting and waiting. But I began the journey. I was 70% into the trip when the moment came. I realized it was time. I was ready to check my status. All I could think about was Hopkins. The beautiful campus, the hilarious math professor I had met on my first visit, the delicious chicken sandwich I had eaten at CharMar. It was all hitting me at once. I had to check! To get home! To..


My face when I heard sirens

My face when I heard sirens

That was when I got pulled over by a cop. You have to understand, I am a rule follower. I do not jaywalk and I think bank robbers are bad. But it was 11:35 and it was dark and I guess I did not really notice that the speed had changed from 55 mph to 40 mph. The cop sauntered over to my car and asked his question. “Where is it that you were headed in such a rush?” He wanted to make sure I felt guilty, and he was succeeding. “And please tell me why you were going 15 mph over the speed limit? What was so important that you would risk your life?” I choked up an answer “Uh I was coming back from a Christmas party. I was on my way home.” He turned to me “A Christmas party? Have you been drinking ma’am?” I felt like I was going to throw up from nervousness. “No sir I have not. You can check me if you want!” He looked at me puzzled, “No I believe you, but why are you so frazzled.” I felt like this was kind of a rhetorical question because I had, for the first time in my life, been pulled over. Was I not supposed to be freaked out? But instead of giving him sass I brought up my other fear. “I find out tonight if I got into Johns Hopkins, the school of my dreams.” He shook his head, asked for my license and registration and turned away.

So more anticipation. Now I waited for both my Hopkins status and my ticket. It was clear that I was getting one. A few minutes later (or possibly centuries) the cop walked up to my window, turned to me and smiled, “Ma’am you should never be going that fast. You could die and then never get to go to your dream school, which, by the way is an incredible school.” He told me I was receiving a warning (by some Christmas miracle) and to slow down next time. He walked away and as he did he shouted “Oh and good luck with Hopkins.”

So then came the drive home, going five miles under the speed limit, the sprint into my house, the quick login to my email and my acceptance into what the cop had called an “incredible school.”

My face when I found out I got into Hopkins!

My face when I found out I got into Hopkins!

I am grateful for that cop because he gave me the luck I might have needed, but I am also grateful to Hopkins. And not only for accepting me and making my Christmas. My school did win the can off and I did get season two of Parks and Recreation, but nothing tops Hopkins. Not only for giving me the chance of a lifetime, a chance to find myself amongst the walls of Mudd Hall or the hill that is the beach. But for keeping my record clean. For getting me out of a ticket.