Farewell

I’ve been having a difficult time coming up with the motivation or inspiration to write a final “farewell” blog post for this site. Nostalgic is not a word I would ever use to describe myself, which can prove to be problematic when trying to write a heartfelt, sentimental, “’adios college” kind of post.

 

The bottom line, though, is that I just do not have much reason for nostalgia- not to say that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Johns Hopkins, or that I won’t miss being in school (though, to be honest, I don’t think I’m going to miss being in class). The difference for me, however, is that just because I am no longer in college or living in Charles Village or being a daily member of the Hopkins community, the meaningful components of my Hopkins experience are, in no sense of the word, over.

 

Let me give you an example. As I write this post, I’m sitting at a kitchen table in Atlanta. Three of my fraternity brothers (two from my pledge class, and one alum who graduated in 2013) drove here yesterday with me to meet a myriad of other friends and colleagues from our time at Hopkins in a celebration for my best friend’s engagement party. For the coming weekend, I’m surrounded by over a dozen of my closest friends from Hopkins, the majority of whom have already graduated and moved on to bigger and better things.

 

My roommate of four years is moving to the DC area, a mere eight dollar train ride from my apartment in downtown Baltimore. And while other friends are heading to places all over the country, at least we now have a well-connected network of couches on which to surf over the coming years.

 

So, what is really “ending” in conjunction with graduation? The way I see it- not a whole lot. Hopkins has been a very influential and important stepping stone in my bigger life journey. Will I miss it? In some ways, yes. In other ways, there isn’t really anything to miss. The best parts of my Hopkins experience aren’t coming to an end at all.

Who You Know: Episode 2

Check out Episode 2 of my new podcast, “Who You Know,” that each week will feature someone who has had a profound impact on my own experience at Hopkins.  Through this podcast I hope to tell the stories of some of the people who have made my time at Johns Hopkins special and unique.  This week, topics include:

  • Who is Richard Brown?
  • Becoming a professor
  • Writing a textbook
  • Studying mathematics at Hopkins
  • How to be successful in college courses
  • Teaching philosophy
  • The Johns Hopkins community
  • What’s making us happy this week

Enjoy!  Please leave suggestions and comments below- I hope that each week this podcast gets better and better.

Who You Know: Episode 1

Check out Episode 1 of my new podcast, “Who You Know,” that each week will feature someone who has had a profound impact on my own experience at Hopkins.  Through this podcast I hope to tell the stories of some of the people who have made my time at Johns Hopkins special and unique.  This week, topics include:

  • Who is Noah Erwin?
  • Studying the environment on an urban campus
  • Taking a semester off
  • Relationships
  • Transitioning to Hopkins
  • Working as a “recycling assistant”
  • Members of the Hopkins staff
  • What happens next?
  • What’s making us happy this week

Enjoy!  Please leave suggestions and comments below- I hope that each week this podcast gets better and better.

Also, special thanks to Quan for the thumbnail!

 

 

The Growth of Johns Hopkins

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Since arriving as a freshman at Johns Hopkins in 2012, I have bore witness to a considerable amount of change at (and in) the university.  Like all change, this has been composed of some good and some bad, some hardly noticeable and some glaringly drastic.  I’ve seen the emergence of new degree programs and majors, the finished construction of new academic buildings (and finally the near-complete construction of Charles St.), the establishment of new community initiatives, the growth of partnerships with other local universities.  I’ve also seen fellow fraternities kicked off campus, the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray and his life’s impact on the city of Baltimore, the addressing of difficult topics such as sexual violence, a decline in the political involvement of a generation.  All of these changes are, one way or another, in direct or indirect connection with our beloved university.  Perhaps the most notable change (in terms of publicity, rather than actual import), is that in the most recent U.S. News and World Report’s college rankings, Johns Hopkins cracked the top 10.  For a population comprised of so many elite students, many of whom may have been rejected from what are considered to be the prototypical elite school, this recognition (and for some, justification for the decision to attend Johns Hopkins) brought about a sense of “paying off.”  For many, the decision to attend Johns Hopkins finally paid off; future employers would receive our alma mater’s name with a more excited, admiring attitude.  Our brand name recognition had changed dramatically by making our way into the Top 10 of universities nationwide (recognition that many within the university knew we have deserved for a long time).

While this kind of change in external recognition and internal justification feels nice, I wonder how such a ranking reflects many of the other changes that I have experienced and witnessed firsthand at this university in my four years here.  Recently, President Ron Daniels appeared on MSNBC’S “Morning Joe” to discuss Hopkins’ new ranking, as well as the sources of progress across the university that have contributed to our new ranking.  Watching this segment caused me to reflect on some of the many ways that I’ve seen JHU change and progress in my time here.

One thing that the prospective student or parent might notice is that while many use the U.S. News and World Report rankings to isolate the best schools to apply to as an undergraduate, the primary focus of much of President Daniels’ discussion is not the university as it applies to undergraduates.  While this is certainly important, and he does mention the increased focus on the undergraduate experience, I think that the topic’s absence from his comments reflects an important truth that many fail to realize.  Universities, and their scope, are not restricted to the undergraduate experience, especially at a place like Johns Hopkins.  It is incredibly important to realize that the university as a whole extends far beyond the undergraduate experience.  Much of what is taken into consideration in formulating a ranking such as this has little to no direct impact on the undergraduate experience.  The highlights of President Daniels’ comments involve the diversification of the university’s involvement in the city of Baltimore, as an entity providing more than just healthcare and education (to primarily outsiders).  On top of community involvement, the increase of which has been a crucially beneficial change in my time here, one has to also consider all of the various professional schools and graduate programs within the university.  While your average undergraduate spends their time only on the Homewood campus, the Carey Business School, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Johns Hopkins Medical School, and others all contribute in their own ways to the success of the university as a whole.

Much of the community involvement that has contributed to JHU’s higher ranking is a result of added programming and new initiatives by the university administration.  And that’s great.  But programming can’t solve every problem.  In fact, over-programming can cause more problems than it solves at times.  More important than any programming that the university can promote, I think, is a larger shift in attitude among all of the members of the Johns Hopkins community regarding what a university’s role in the broader community should be.  That’s an important fact for anyone considering coming here to know.  Our university’s new ranking doesn’t only reflect a better undergraduate experience, or a more prestigious alma mater to have on your future CV.  The new ranking reflects an immense amount of shift and change in how the university thinks and operates as a whole.  The undergraduate experience is a component of this, but not the only one.  Any student on campus can still, after some thought, recall things that they would love to see change on our undergraduate campus; improvements to facilities, shifts in expectations, alterations to the academic curriculum, whatever it may be.  And while our change in nationwide ranking reflects a lot of positive change at our university, there is always more that can and should be done.

So, to any student considering applying to Johns Hopkins, take this Top 10 ranking at face value for what it really is: an indication of the university’s overall progress, positive reinforcement of deserved recognition, and a metric setting the standard for how future members of our community are expected to continue to contribute to university growth.  But don’t read into it too much; the only way that Johns Hopkins can be the best that it can be, particularly with regard to the undergraduate experience, is if the undergraduate student body itself continues to contribute in meaningful ways to the broader Johns Hopkins community.  It feels good to be a Top 10 school, but not as good as it will when our community is excelling and achieving in ways that we previously hadn’t.  So while growth and progress is good, there’s still more to be done.

Being a Millenial: A Brief How-To Guide

Let me preface this by saying that I don’t know everything there is to know about applying to college, jobs, etc.  However, I’ve done both and think that, with the expectation that members of our generation are “supposed” to go to college and get jobs after graduation, I maybe can shed some light on a topic that is constantly stressed to members of the online generation, but often times without much clarity.

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If you’ve lived in the 2000s, somebody somewhere along the way has told you about the dangers of the internet: “Watch what you post,” “Nothing is ever deleted,” “The internet is permanent,” etc.  Yet, the reality is that generations are now growing up with the internet, and particularly online profiles, as a central component of an individual’s identity.  For better or for worse, that’s reality.  People now exist, in a certain sense, on the internet.  Everyone has a personal identity (business sites restrict this to your personal brand, but I’d like to consider the notion more broadly), and everyone’s online identity is a contributing factor to their overall sense of self.  Unlike many of the internal elements of an individual identity, however, everyone can see your online profile.

We’ve all heard horror stories about what people put on the internet.  If you don’t completely censor your online presence, “You won’t get into a good college.”  “You won’t be able to get a job.”  In my experience (having been admitted to a school like JHU and secured a full-time job for post-graduation), there’s a certain degree of truth to these kinds of blanket statements.  But, there is also a certain degree of falsehood.  How much job recruiters and admissions counselors (like the wonderful ones who work at Johns Hopkins) actually scour the internet for incriminating evidence against poor high school students just trying to get into college is up for debate, and largely unknown to virtually everyone.  But regardless of whether or not such investigation is occurring, a student’s online presence and identity can certainly be impactful, particularly in the internet age.

For entrepreneurs, the idea of a personal brand is constantly stressed.  Making yourself marketable, and being conscious of your individual identity and its impact is essential to being a successful entrepreneur.  But what about a high school student applying to college?  Is there a similar way that a high school student can create personal brand in the process of applying to college?  I think the answer is yes.  While most of your personal identity shines through your application, the prevalence of online profile’s is something that, rather than fear, students can utilize.  A high school student can only present so much via their paper (read: also online) application.  And whether or not admissions teams scour the internet for dirt on high school students, imagine if a student’s online existence was a supplement to their application.  The same goes for college students applying to jobs and internships.  Rather than the fear-induced state of perpetual timeline review, students (I’m talking to you, readers) can and should utilize all of their existing online profiles to promote their personal identity.  Rather than hiding your Instagram life from recruiters, craft it in such a way that it better reflects you as an individual.  There’s nothing incriminating about promoting your own sense of self through multiple avenues.  Recruiters (in college and in the professional world) can only learn so much about you through your resume or college application.  And yet, there are so many additional avenues for self-promotion out there, particularly online.  Any high school guidance counselor or career counselor will tell you: in any application/interview/phone call, make sure that you are able to actively portray your personality and identity to whoever is interested.  Why not use an online profile and identity to do the same?

I’m not saying every high schooler needs to have a cleaned up, professional looking LinkedIn.  But if you’re on Facebook, make sure that what you do and post accurately portrays you as a person and is grounded in whatever values you believe in.  There is so much space for personal expression online that it needs to be taken advantage of.  Rather than students living in fear about what is and isn’t on the internet, students should just be honest in their online expression.  Personal branding really just boils down to promoting yourself and your personal identity through distributive modes of expression such as the internet.  Why shouldn’t college and high school students do the same?

Extending Beyond the Classroom

Everyone says that your college experience will shape you.  College is a time for change and personal growth, but for many prospective students, it isn’t very clear what that exactly means.  I thought I had it all figured out during my senior year of high school. I knew what I wanted to do; nothing was going to change that. College was just going to be another four years of school—an intermediate step until I could get into the real world. I was going to study mathematics and the classics.

But then I went to class. The first class I attended at Johns Hopkins was a philosophy seminar: Ethical Topics in Plato. I loved it. My mathematically inclined brain was fascinated by philosophical logic and argument. For the first time in my life, I left every class feeling intellectually challenged, stimulated, and just smarter. I read Plato’s works without any intention of gaining pragmatic knowledge, and that was my favorite part. I was thinking about the universe outside of our physical realm. One cannot see virtues in our world, and even if one is able to grasp them in some intellectual realm, does it really do any practical good? Maybe not, but I loved pondering ethical philosophy because of the intellectual stimulation and enjoyment it gave me. So I changed my game plan—and declared philosophy and mathematics as my two programs of study.

The correlation and parallels between my philosophical and mathematical studies are stronger than you might think. The primary focus for both is to develop and articulate arguments to better understand the state of the natural world. In philosophy, particularly when considering the metaphysical world, this means developing an understanding of why certain things happen and ultimately what everything in the universe is for. Not only does one have to develop theories and opinions on the state of the natural world, but one must also be able to support such theories with logic, reasoning, and argument. Mathematics is not any different. Both subjects require a foundation of understanding, but investigation into them requires the mind to expand beyond basic recitation of facts.

I was never one to really indulge myself with thoughts about my own place and role in the world. I was too busy living my life to take any time to step back and look at it. My academic pursuits have, however, shifted my entire perspective.  I directly owe that to the faculty in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.  While our university boasts an impressive faculty in light of their professional and academic achievement, I believe that for the undergraduate the most impressive feature of our faculty is their ability to alter their students’ thoughts.

Outside the classroom, my interests generally revolve around music and outdoors recreation. Here at Johns Hopkins, I am employed as an educator in Outdoor Pursuits, a division of the Experiential Education Department of the Ralph S. O’Connor Recreation Center. I lead rock climbing trips throughout the semester, as well as a Pre-Orientation weeklong rock climbing trip for incoming freshmen. Rock climbing has been part of the foundation for my personal life for the last eight years, and now at Hopkins I have been able to approach the activity from a very different perspective: that of an educator. I have started to evaluate how we, as people, interact with the natural world, and how our relationship with it changes as our interactions vary. My studies have encouraged me to adopt a more interrogative perspective about the natural world in my experiences outside my academic pursuits. For the first time in my academic career, Hopkins has shaped my real-life experiences—it extends beyond the classroom.

Senioritis (n.)

Every senior jokes about senioritis (some more jokingly than others).  Whether you’re in high school or college, this infection is real.  The accompanying sense of apathy towards your current situation is almost overwhelming.  I can recall vividly sitting in class as a senior in high school counting the speckles on the ceiling tiles, because that seemed more interesting than whatever war-time novel we were analyzing in English class.  I would guess that most high school seniors are still at an early enough point in their final year that they haven’t caught the bug just yet- what with applying to colleges and acceptances (and some rejections) still to come, there’s a lot of excitement yet to be realized as a senior in high school.  The question is- what about seniors in college?

Senioritis is real.

IMG_5460Though high school seniors likely haven’t quite sunk into a general state of apathy yet, senioritis has latched onto college seniors like a parasite already.  And it’s an epidemic.  Unlike in high school where your apathy could be instantly brushed aside by your commanding mother and father, telling you to go to school, in college, nobody forces you to go to class.  If you don’t want to study or do your problem sets, nobody is going to force you to.  The parental oversight of high school has been long gone for college seniors, and never is it more apparent than when you catch the senioritis itch.

Fortunately, senioritis comes in several distinct forms, the far more malicious of which attacks those poor high schoolers and lets the college kids be.

Seniors take all kinds of flack in college (trust me).  Fellow members of student groups generally expect your presence in the group to diminish.  Your campus involvement, I believe, generally decreases in magnitude and frequency.  Though none of this is from a lack of trying.  The very reasons that so many people love college (at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere) are these student groups, and campus involvement, and friends, and other intangible elements of the college experience.  So, why then would senior apathy develop?  Shouldn’t nostalgia take over, and, if anything, seniors should become more invested in their final year of school?

My final Pre-O
My final Pre-O

For some, I think this is indeed the case.  Many seniors, in fact, experience senioritis through a renewed sense of spirit, and a desire to take full advantage of their short time remaining on campus.  For the rest, however, a different kind of senioritis attacks.  This virus is still different from that which latches on to high schoolers.  The fact of the matter is that a senior’s focus is shifted towards an entirely different direction than an underclassman.  For many, this past summer was the final opportunity to “wow” future employers at internships.  Many seniors enter their final year with job offers for after graduation, and those who aren’t quite as lucky spend the rest of the year trying to get their hands on that golden ticket to employment.  Others are applying to and visiting graduate schools, and interviewing at medical schools.  Some seniors are already hunting for housing at whatever opportunity they will be taking advantage of post-graduation.  Others are getting their first credit cards with the hope of beginning to develop a financial history- a necessity for adulthood.

People just grow up.

I don’t mean “grow up” in terms of maturity, either (though I think many of our parents hope that this kind of growth includes that).  It’s truly just a shift in focus.  Where a year ago a person was focused on finding their friends on the Beach to hang out with on a weekday afternoon, the same senior is now perfecting his or her resume in the hopes of snagging a job after college.  Senioritis in college is entirely different than what many experience in high school- it isn’t apathy or a desire to be somewhere new and exciting.  It’s simply a shift in focus and direction.  I don’t know a single senior at Johns Hopkins who would say that they haven’t enjoyed their time here- so why feel the urge to leave?  Frankly, people don’t feel that urge.  Seniors are getting shoved out of college (sometimes even against their will), and the thought of transitioning into the real world is stressful; it requires a lot of focus and attention that had previously been directed towards the Hopkins experience.  So senioritis is real, but not in the way most people expect.

IMG_5200If I’ve learned anything at Johns Hopkins, though, it’s that time really does fly.  Nobody wants to leave this place, but eventually you have to.  And the senioritis that so many identify as a plague for the senior class, even this early in the semester, is simply part of that transition out of the past four years.  People change as life changes, and so does the earner of their attention.  That’s what senioritis really is.

Country Grammar

Hopefully you’ve already picked up on the fact that this is going to be a Nelly themed blog post.  With finals and writing last-minute term papers in full swing, I spend the majority of my time daydreaming about what once was- namely, Spring Fair.  There’s bazillions (I’m a math major) of posts on here about how great Spring Fair is.  Great weather, great (fried) foods, cool arts and crafts, live music, the Beer Garden on President Daniels’ front lawn- what more could you want?

Corn dogs are yummy
Corn dogs are yummy

Well, I’ll tell you what more you could want.  Nelly.

One of the highlights of Spring Fair every year (besides Wild Bill’s homemade sodas) is the annual concert.  In my first two years at Hopkins, we had some pretty solid acts for the Spring Fair concert.  Freshman year, it was Grouplove, and they put on a fun show.  I’d seen them about six months prior though, so I didn’t have a ton of built up excitement heading into that concert.  Sophomore year, it was J. Cole- now, I’m not a huge J. Cole fan, but I can appreciate the entertainment value of the show.  For me, that’s kind of like going to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in theaters.  And yes, I did go see that movie in theaters.

But junior year, the Spring Fair committee pulled out all of the stops, and the original St. Lunatic himself, Cornell Haynes Jr. made his way to Baltimore to grace the wonderful students at Johns Hopkins with his platinum and white molds, and traditional gold set of grillz.  That’s right, Nelly came to Baltimore.  The MVP of the Convicts vs. Guards game in the award-winning film The Longest Yard made an appearance on the Homewood campus.  And it was amazing.

Nelly was not as warmly received by the Hopkins community as I would’ve hoped/liked/expected (once again, just like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter).  Thought the concert did sell out, there was not nearly as much hype around campus leading up to the show.  And I don’t understand why.  It was the best $18 that I’ve ever spent in my entire life, hands down, and I am going to tell you why.

Here are the top 10 reasons why Nelly is the greatest Spring Fair performance of all time that cannot and will not ever be topped.

Nelly with his hype man, Ali of the St. Lunatics
Nelly with his hype man, Ali of the St. Lunatics

1. Grillz

If you went to middle school in the early 2000s, then it is an empirical fact that you know every single word to the song “Grillz.”  Any music fan will tell you that concerts are more fun if you know the words to every song, and everyone knows every word to this particular Nelly song.

2. Nelly and I have the same birthday

As Nelly did whatever he did to welcome his 29th birthday, I was doing whatever I was doing being brought into the world.  November 2 is the best day every year because Nelly and I simultaneously celebrate our births.  And for a little over an hour on April night, we occupied the same space and experienced the same musical euphoria.

3. Nelly was a character in NBA Street – Volume 2

How many musicians are also characters in a video game?  How many of those musicians have to compete against the greatest basketball player of all time in said video game (I’m referring, of course, to Peja Stojakovic)?  How many of those musicians also wrote a song about the shoes that said musician’s character wore in said video game?  I’m guessing that if you take the sets of musicians that can respond ‘yes’ to each of those questions and take the intersection of each of these sets, the result is singleton (math major).  And Nelly is the only element to be concerned with.  Also, in this video game you could play with the other members of the St. Lunatics, Nelly’s original hip hop group.  Ali, one of the St. Lunatics, accompanied Nelly during his performance, so I got two witness two video game characters in real life.  Game changer.

4. Air Force Ones

Give me two pairs, I need two pairs.  Everyone in my hometown used to rock the Air Force Ones, and I got to witness this shoe’s anthem in person.  Amazing.

5. Nelly is a rap/country crossover hit artist

I love rap music.  I love country music.  Have you ever heard “Over and Over” featuring Tim McGraw?  Of course you have.  Amazing.

6. Nelly was on The Real Husbands of Hollywood

I don’t even know what that means, but I love it.

7. The Hits

Country Grammar.  E.I. Ride with Me.  Batter Up.  Number One.  Hot in Herre.  Dilemma.  Air Force Ones.  Shake Ya Tailfeather.  Over and Over.  Grillz.  Body on Me.  Hey Porsche.  Just a Dream.  That’s a list of hit singles if I’ve ever seen one.

8. Nelly knew what we wanted to hear

And he gave it to us.  And we loved it.  And he loved it.  And we knew every word.  And he knew that we knew every word.  And it was the highlight of my life.

9. The Remixes

Nelly performed a series of remix/mash-ups of some of his hit songs with some newer, more recent hit singles in the world of hip-hop.  The best part about it was that Ali knew all of the signature dance moves to accompany each of these hits.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen that big of a man move like that, but it was great.

10. Nelly and I share the same birthday

Yes, this deserves to appear on this list twice.  The first draft of this post had this fact just listed 10 times, but I thought it’d be wise to mix it up.

Thank you, Spring Fair committee.  Thank you for making this the best Spring Fair yet.  I can only hope that next year will be even better.  Or, if not, that you’ll just bring Nelly back.

 

SOHOP: A Microblog

IMG_4949Today marked the end of SOHOP for 2015; we have no more overnight open house programs for the rest of the year.  While admitted students and moms and dads were marching around going to the information sessions and tours that they had picked out to try and answer questions that they had about Hopkins, my day was much different.  So- a lot of people can tell you about what it’s like coming to SOHOP as an admitted student, but what about the other side of the pillow?  Here it is: a day (well, technically 2) in the life of an Admissions Office volunteer- SOHOP edition.

Wednesday

6:30am: Gym time.  Got to keep the gain train going, and my day is about to be action packed.  So, gotta get in and out early.

7:45am: Coffee, shower, breakfast.  Time to get to Keswick.

8:30am-10:00amKeswick parking garage.  The first part of my day is spent holding a sign and directing traffic with JHU_Alexa at the free parking garage for parents and students.  Not exactly exciting, but somebody’s got to do it!

11:00am: Heading back to campus to get some work done- I’ve got a busy day, so time to get a head start on some work.

1:00pm-2:00pm: This is when I hold my office hours for my Calc II students; so, much like when I’m working SOHOP, I’m answering questions for the next hour.

2:00pm: I’ve got a small break, so it’s back to the student activities expo at SOHOP for the admitted students.  I’m hanging at the SAAB table offering insight about the entire SOHOP program for students and parents with questions.

3:00pm: Game theory!  First class of the day, so I’m off to Whitehead Hall for Mathematical Game Theory (an awesome class).

4:30pm: An equally awesome class- Philosophical Logic.  Nothing like getting your mind blown every Monday and Wednesday for a semester straight.

6:00pm: Another short break!  Admitted students are off to dinner, and so am I.  What’ll it be tonight?  Vegetable beef stew, mmmmmmm…

9:00pm: After getting some work done, the Admissions volunteers are back at it at the Night Festival, where admitted students and their current student hosts get to hang out and do all kinds of fun stuff.  The rec center is basically turned into a giant carnival for the night.

11:30pm: Bed time. Finally.

 

Thursday

6:30am: Wake up call; Got to be at Shriver Hall for the day’s introduction by President Daniels soon

7:30am: I’m at Shriver taking advantage of some free breakfast.  Then, I’m handing out Insider’s Guides and talking to admitted students, helping to answer any lingering questions they may have.

9:30am: I’m guiding a group of potential students in various humanities subjects to Gilman Hall, where they’ll hear from the departments of Philosophy, Writing Seminars, the Humanities Center, and German and Romance Languages and Literature.

10:30am: I forgot that I’m a student…  Back to class, this time it’s Hellenistic Philosophy with Dr. Richard Bett.

12:00pm: Networking lunch!  I’m eating with the admitted students and their families in Levering, again, providing a current student perspective.

3:00pm: Have to teach my Calc II section!  While I’m back in the classroom, admitted students are finishing up their days and taking off back their respective way, to wherever home may be!

Why Hopkins? Baltimore Edition

IMG_4919What first comes to mind when you think about Johns Hopkins? Is it the renowned medical school and hospital? What about excellent arts and humanities programs? Maybe it’s lacrosse, or Michael Bloomberg, or our fearsome Blue Jay. I can’t tell you what to think about Johns Hopkins, but I feel confident in saying what you’re not thinking about: Baltimore.

 

Maybe I’m wrong- maybe. I doubt it though. There are so any positive elements of Hopkins as it exists on its own, that often times Charm City gets placed on the backburner in discussions about our school. For most people, Baltimore is just a place in which Johns Hopkins exists. The fact is, the city has an incredible amount of value to bring to the “Why Hopkins” discussion for its own sake. On its own, Baltimore is the place to be. You wouldn’t need Hopkins to convince me to come to Baltimore, but Hopkins is incredibly lucky in that one of its most valuable recruiting tools really has nothing to do with Hopkins at all: the city of Baltimore.

 

I suppose I should refine my last statement a bit. It’s impressive how involved Hopkins has been (in a variety of capacities) in the development, growth, and improvement of the city; the university has done amazing things for the Baltimore community, and in more ways than one, the city has given back to the school. If nothing else, the city welcomes students with arms wide open (insert Creed/Scott Stapp profile picture). President Ron Daniels has created a “20 by 20” action plan for the university that involves goals to be accomplished by the year 2020. The majority of these goals are related to Hopkins’ position and involvement in the city of Baltimore. The university is constantly looking to integrate and immerse itself with the Baltimore community, and these action steps are a small representation of the ways in which Hopkins does this.

 

While I appreciate the ways in which our university tries to involve itself in the community, in a more selfish vein I simply love being able to take advantage of all that the city has to offer. I wish that I had realized how incredibly exciting and inviting Baltimore is when I was deciding on colleges/my first two years. It really wasn’t until last summer, when I lived in Baltimore but wasn’t going to school, that I was able to fully realize the potential that the city has to offer, and more importantly how accessible all of it is to students. I could enumerate all of the activities there are, or famous places to visit, or great food to eat, but the list would be too long- you’re better off just reading through a TripAdvisor report. So, instead, I’ll try to describe the more intangible appeals to the city.

 

I feel obligated to say first, however, that the food in Baltimore is amazing. There are so many unique, quirky places to explore and eat at, and all of it is delicious. I could eat at a new restaurant every night of the week and never repeat a visit or be bored.

 

Back to the original task, though- quirky and unique is the best way to describe this place. It is a weird, inviting blend of blue-collar attitudes and hipster explorations. As someone from a small town in the Midwest, the easy and slow pace of Baltimore as a city, compared to the bustling metropolises like New York, made the adjustment to city life easy- it makes it easy to call Baltimore home, now.

 

So, why Hopkins? There are a million and five reasons why to come to Hopkins. But the one that doesn’t get talked about enough is the beautiful city that we live in. Sure, it doesn’t have the pristine reputation or glamorous Hollywood vibe of other cities. But I like it that way. It feels real; I feel like I’m a part of this community. I’m not convinced that you can get that at any school. But you get it at Hopkins.