So Much Has Changed

Name: Stephanie Tow

Year: Class of 2008

Major: Neuroscience

Hometown: Belle Mead, NJ

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“Congratulations graduate! You did it!”

I can’t believe people will be saying this to me in a few days. Commencement is just a few days away and I find it extremely difficult to believe that my undergraduate experience at Hopkins is done – my four years here have certainly zipped by!

Howl_at_the_moonMy name is Stephanie and I have just completed my senior year at Hopkins. In late March, I found out that I was awarded a Fulbright grant to go to Hong Kong next year to teach English at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. Although I am stoked for Hong Kong, I have had such a great time at Hopkins as an undergraduate that I am really sad to be leaving. It feels like it was just yesterday when I was hanging out with my friends until 4AM in AMR II.

Since my freshman year, a lot has changed. The meal plan has been revamped, new buildings and a new quad have sprouted on our campus, there are no longer single-sex dorms, the AMRs are now carpeted (although still not air-conditioned), and a ton of new security measures on and off campus have been implemented. In addition, with the development of Charles Village (the area of Baltimore near our upperclassman dorms) and Charles Commons (the new dorm for upperclassmen), Charles Village has become a great hang-out hub for students. However, these are just the physical changes.

Looking back at myself during my freshman year, I am amazed at how much I have changed over just four years, and I believe I owe most of it to my various experiences at Hopkins, especially the activities in which I have Ultimate been involved. During my freshman year, trying to figure out what exactly my interests were, I experimented and joined a whole bunch of activities. I tried out Crew for a month, but quit before the team started 4AM practices. After I quit Crew, I joined the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team, which as a club sport, allowed more flexibility with my schedule. I also played in the Hopkins flute choir and took flute lessons at Peabody. I experimented with various other activities and organizations on campus, such as Alpha Phi Omega (the service fraternity on campus), Cooking 4 Love (another community service organization that prepares meals for a homeless women’s day shelter), and the Ski and Snowboard Club.

Sometime during my sophomore year, I finally found the right bunch of activities that fit my interests. However, there were also many activities with which I was not able to get involved until my junior year. These activities included my positions as a resident advisor (RA) in Wolman Hall and as a teaching assistant (TA) for Organic Chemistry Lab. My experiences with these two activities have definitely allowed me to grow significantly as an individual, providing me new perspectives and insight into Hopkins. In fact, the RA position has definitely been my favorite involvement during my time at Hopkins.

As an RA for freshmen (and a few sophomores) in Wolman for two years, I Wolman_residents have met so many interesting people. Last year, I was an RA for twenty-eight freshmen and sixteen sophomores. This year, I was an RA for thirty-five freshmen and four transfer sophomores. I remember having so much fun with my residents last year and worrying that I would not have as much fun with my new residents during my senior year. Last year, my residents would sit out in our lounge until at least 3AM on most nights, jamming on their guitars, playing Halo, watching “Family Guy” on our lounge TV, or watching various movies on a projector borrowed from the Digital Media Center. Although my residents this year were quite a different bunch of individuals, I definitely had as much fun with my residents this year. In fact, I was amazed by how so many of my residents hung out in the same group of friends this year (last year, there were a lot of smaller groups of friends instead of one giant group) and how my floor in Wolman had become a close-knit community. Residents_decorating_for_holidays

Every month, I plan a few events for my residents, and in December, we did an event that decorated our hall. More than half of my residents came out that evening to Holiday_decs help decorate the hall, and the outcome was mind-blowing – our floor was bursting with holiday spirit, and every resident who did not live on our floor would voice how they wished their floor was as crazily festive as ours. Furthermore, I was blown away by the maturity, altruism, respectful manners, and fun-loving spirits of my residents this year. They would often study together in the lounge and stay up late to help each other out. Although most of them kept an appropriate focus on their academics, they were also quite outgoing, getting involved with many activities on campus, going to every lacrosse game, or making plans for the weekend with other residents on the floor to go to Towson, Inner Harbor, DC, or various other hot spots.

This year, I became very close to my residents, serving basically as their older sibling who looked out for them and gave them advice. My position as an RA was definitely rewarding this year, knowing that I was able to influence my residents in a positive manner. In fact, during my final floor meeting on the last day of classes, my residents surprised me with a parting gift along with a poem they had written for me:

The best RA ever
Is Stephanie Tow
To show you our love
We don’t even know how

You made our first year
At Hopkins so great
Living on Seven East
Must have been fate

We painted Easter eggs
And ate lots of brownies
You turned upside down
All our little frownies

We wish you the best
Of luck in Hong Kong
Thank you for never
Steering us wrong

After reading this poem, I almost cried. I will certainly miss my residents when I leave Hopkins. But in addition to becoming close to my residents, I have also made some of my closest friends with other RA staff members, which has given me even more reason to love the RA position. We go Lacrossetogether to lacrosse games, theme parks, snowtubing adventures, and for those of us who are at least 21, we’ll also hit the bars together with other friends. Our favorite is “Howl at the Moon,” located in the Power Plant in the inner harbor. “Howl,” as we call it, is a really fun dueling piano bar, and my friends and I keep winning these free happy hour parties in which we are allowed to invite up to a hundred friends for a Friday or Saturday early evening. Singing along to classic rock hits with the piano man, my friends and I always have a blast at “Howl.” Included in this group of friends are not only RAs, but also friends from freshman year with whom I am still close, including my freshman year roommate. It amazes me that even though I have changed so much, I am still close with a bunch of friends from freshman year.Commencement

My many experiences at Hopkins have not only helped prepare me for my future, but also have made up the best four years of my life. I have had so much fun here at Hopkins and would not trade my Hopkins experience for any other undergraduate experience. While I start the next chapter of my life in Hong Kong, and then the subsequent chapter in medical school, I hope to be able to come back to Hopkins, once again reminiscing on my undergraduate years, hopefully with my friends at my side. With the amount of change I have seen in the past four years, I can’t even imagine what things will be like in ten or twenty years from now…

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