Page 1






MAY 24-26, 2013

hat a lark! What a plunge! these past four years have been. We’ve gone up to the roof of Metcalf to watch the sunrise and down to the SciLi basement to pull all-nighters. There are risks we wish we’d taken; nights we try to forget. Some of us never want to leave. Some of us know that it’s time. But overall, it’s been a blast. This weekend, the class of 2013 will step off College Hill and scatter in different directions — toward jobs, graduate school, unemployment and the unknown. We asked 17 graduating seniors to reflect on their formative experiences at Brown and how they’ve been shaped by their time here. From empowering youth through hip-hop to working on an ambulance caravan in Nepal, students offered us a glimpse into their experiences beyond the classroom. We also look at life after graduation. In our “Life After Brown” section, we call on graduates — both old and new — to reflect on their journeys after they walked through the Van Wickle Gates. One article looks at how alums from the past two years are transitioning to the “real world” immediately after graduation. Another explores the experiences of Brown alums across the decades who pursued similar career paths. A spotlight on reunions depicts what it’s like for alums who return to Brown after years away. Brown has changed us, but the University itself is not the same place it was four years ago. A lot has happened in the year since Christina Paxson, a little-known dean from Princeton, took the reins from Ruth Simmons after her 11year tenure. We explore the University’s future direction as the Paxson administration seeks to define its priorities, and we revisit the University’s recent expansion that began before the class of 2013 even set foot on campus. National tides of change have reached Brown and its surrounding community as well. This year, Rhode Island became the 10th state to legalize gay marriage, and a student group is taking on a national campaign calling for the University to divest from coal companies. The class of 2013 and Brown are both at transition points, seeking to determine the best direction forward. We’ll miss you, Brown. But we know that the friendships and the memories we’ve made and the lessons we’ve learned will last far beyond the Van Wickle Gates. — The 122nd Editorial Board

editors Claire Peracchio Rebecca Ballhaus Nicole Boucher Tony Bakshi Natalie Villacorta

SINCE 1891


Schedule of Major Events


Senior Orators


Honorary Degree Recipients

Life After Brown 11

Recent Grads Forge New Paths


Alums in the Media


Remembering Reunions

News from the Hill 20

Paxson’s First Year


University Expansion


Divest Coal Campaign

Features 27

Legalizing Gay Marriage


Himalayan Expedition


In Memoriam: Avi Schaefer

Voices of 2013


Senior Survey


By the Numbers


c o n t r i b u to r s Mariya Bashkatova Katherine Cusumano Mathias Heller Sabrina Imbler Sahil Luthra


Alexandra Macfarlane Sona Mkrttchian Kate Nussenbaum Eli Okun Sarah Perelman


c r e at i v e

Amy Andrews Olivia Conetta Paige Morris Sara Palasits Reem Rayef

Greg JordanDetamore Sam Kase Jillian Lanney Kayla Stormont

Cover picture by Kirby Lowenstein Back cover by Claire Luchette

CO M M E N C E M E N T 2 0 1 3

SCHEDULE OF MAJOR EVENTS Fr i d ay, M ay 2 4 9 p.m. – 1 a.m. Campus Dance, sponsored by the Brown Alumni Association. Main Green, Lincoln Field

S a t u r d ay, M ay 2 5 9:00 a.m. Commencement Forums A series of academic colloquia with faculty, alums and distinguished guests. 1:30 p.m. Baccalaureate Procession Line-up Graduates assemble on Waterman Street, facing east toward Thayer Street, with the line beginning at Faunce Arch, wearing cap and gown (tassels go on the right). Main Green 2:30 p.m. Baccalaureate Ceremony The multi-faith service featuring a keynote address by Tougaloo College President Beverly Wade Hogan will be simulcast to the Main Green, Sayles Hall and Salomon Center. The First Baptist Church in America 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Brown Daily Herald Alumni Reunion 195 Angell St.

S u n d ay, M ay 2 6 9:45 a.m. Commencement Procession Begins Faunce Arch, Main Green 10:15 a.m. Graduate School Commencement Ceremony Lincoln Field 11:15 a.m. (estimated) Medical School Commencement Ceremony The First Unitarian Church 12:10 p.m. (estimated) College Ceremony Live simulcast to the Main Green, Sayles Hall and Salomon Center. The First Baptist Church in America 12:45 p.m. (estimated) University Ceremony Senior orations and awarding of honorary degrees. Main Green 2:15 p.m. – 4 p.m. (estimated) Diploma Ceremonies for each department at assigned locations, as listed in the Commencement program.

In the event of severe storm conditions, the Baccalaureate and Commencement processions will be canceled and storm plans will go into effect. A message will be posted on the Brown website and sent via text message to all seniors. The Van Wickle Gates will remain open until 6 p.m. on Monday.





Elizabeth Mills

Elizabeth Mills ’13.5 said her Brown experience has been shaped by her love of teaching — the challenge of it and its humbling effects. “Teaching is my element,” she said. As one of the directors of Generation Citizen, a program that teaches students in Rhode Island middle and high schools how to advocate for causes in their communities, Mills has discovered the classroom experience firsthand. The program is especially useful because it imparts practical skills rather than factual knowledge, which can be more fleeting, she said. “In an academic context, you tend to generalize, or explain or identify. In an actual classroom you just have to roll with the punches. There’s no pedagogical tactic that can make you get a class to calm down and no theory that can explain” why one student is excited about learning while another does not care, she said. Mills’ decision to concentrate in history grew out of her love of storytelling, she said. HIST 1740: “Civil War and Reconstruction” influenced her choice because she liked the way the class focused on themes and stories, rather than on facts. In her spare time, Mills tells stories through her performances at 95 Empire, a black box theater in Providence. TAPS 0220: “Persuasive Communication,” a classically Brown course, could be a metaphor for the entire Brown experience, Mills said, as students are taught to exercise their confidence in unfamiliar situations. Self-assured seniors enroll in the course and “then the first day comes when they have to deliver a speech, and the most confident, knowledgeable people are shaking, all looking at each other like no one wants to go first,” she said. Slowly, the students rebuild their confidence with the help of the professor and their classmates and become better communicators, she said. Mills, a Washington, D.C. native, spent last semester on a leave of absence working at the White House. Her Commencement speech was informed by this experience in the working world, where she tried to “reconcile (her) Brown self with (her) office self,” she said. The experience left her reflecting on how to translate the “Brown mentality to the real world,” she said. After graduating from Brown next December, Mills said she hopes to teach or do work in education policy.

Tanayott Thaweethai

Tanayott Thaweethai ’13 arrived at Brown hoping to explore the perspectives of students from all over the world and embrace the freedom offered by the New Curriculum. One way Thaweethai said he has gained a “global perspective” is through the New Scientist Program, which aims to increase diversity in the sciences through a student mentoring initiative. A student coordinator for the past two years and a mentor before that, Thaweethai said the program “has defined (his) experience at Brown,” presenting an opportunity to meet people from “different walks of life and from all over the world.” The program focuses on a concept of diversity that includes not only race and ethnicity but also socioeconomic status and gender, he said. An applied mathematics-biology concentrator, Thaweethai completed an honors thesis on the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Thaweethai said his decision to concentrate in applied mathbiology was informed by a course he took with Assistant Professor of Biology David Weinreich called BIOL0380: “Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease.” He said the class, which uses math to model biological concepts, “showed me that I could, rather than picking one of my interests, combine them in a productive and interesting way.” Thaweethai’s commencement speech, entitled “Doors,” is based on the premise of choosing from a wide variety of options “while staying true to what you believe,” he said. “Brown gives us a lot of opportunities. It opens a lot of doors for us. How do we decide which one to go through?” Thaweethai said his devotion to speech and debate during high school in his hometown Union City, Calif., helped him gain confidence and find his voice, and now he has come “full circle” by being selected to give a Commencement speech. Outside of his academic pursuits, Thaweethai said he enjoys baking, long-distance running and playing the piano. After graduation, Thaweethai will work for a health care research company in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he will apply statistical analyses of Medicare and Medicaid data to test if medications are as safe and effective as manufacturers claim. — Mariya Bashkatova



HONORARY DEGREE R Six influential figures will receive honorary degrees from President Christina Paxson on behalf of the University during this year’s commencement exercises. The Board of Fellows of the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, selected the recipients following recommendations from an advisory committee of students and faculty members. By Katherine Cusumano

Benjamin Affleck

Actor, director, producer, writer — Affleck has been deeply involved in every step of film production. He has been honored with an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for “Good Will Hunting” alongside his friend and fellow actor Matt Damon, and his 2012 film “Argo” won the Academy Award for Best Picture. He has starred in blockbusters like “Pearl Harbor” and “Armageddon” and directed “The Town,” a crime drama set in his hometown of Boston. Affleck has also pursued philanthropy out of the public eye. After traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to witness the humanitarian crisis there firsthand, he founded the Eastern Congo Initiative in 2010, which aims to promote sustainability, economic growth and accessible health care in the region. The organization also advocates for fair elections in the Congo. Affleck’s other charitable work includes activism for the Jimmy Fund, a Boston-based organization that channels funding to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for adult and pediatric oncology research, and for Feeding America, a national charity that aims to connect food banks across the country.

Junot Diaz

“I didn’t learn to read until I was seven,” writer Junot Diaz revealed in an interview with the New York Times last fall. Having immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic at age six, he grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Rutgers University in 1992. His novel, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2008. He now sits on the Pulitzer Prize Board, which judges entries each year, and is the first Hispanic individual to hold the position. Diaz is also known for his shorter works — he has published two short story collections, “Drown” and “This is How You Lose Her,” and has contributed to the New Yorker and the Paris Review. In addition to writing, Diaz is fiction editor at the Boston Review and a creative writing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Diaz also works as honorary chairman of the DREAM Project, an organization that aims to increase education opportunities for children in the Dominican Republic.

Stanley Falkow PhD’61

Falkow, a bacteriologist, is recognized as a pioneer in the field of microbial pathogenesis. After completing his doctorate at Brown, he joined the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and rose to assistant chief of the Department of Bacterial Immunology. During this time, Falkow’s research examined the genetic foundations for antibiotic resistance in bacteria. He has also worked as a faculty member of the Georgetown University and University of Washington medical schools. “Bacteria are important in all facets of life, from making sauerkraut to what goes on in the soil,” he told USA Today in a 2009 article. “I became enchanted with bacteria and the discovery of organisms that cause disease.” He served as chair of the Department of Medical Microbiology at Stanford University’s medical school from 1981 to 1985 and retired from the department in 2010. In 2008, Falkow received the Lasker Medical Prize for his research, which has focused on the “microbial perspective” of disease. At age 72, Falkow received his pilot’s license and now spends his time flying planes and fly-fishing.



E RECIPIENTS OF 2013 Beverly Wade Hogan

Hogan became the first female president of Tougaloo College, her alma mater, with her appointment in May 2002. A life-long resident of Mississippi, she was drawn to community activism from an early age. Following graduation, Hogan focused on mental health in her work as a therapist and then as the executive director of the Mississippi Mental Health Association. She also organized the first rape crisis and domestic abuse response centers in the state. Her academic papers have highlighted the need for pay equity and fair working conditions. Since Hogan was appointed president, enrollment has increased 12 percent and retention has increased 68 percent, according to the school’s website. This honorary degree coincides with the 50th anniversary of the partnership between Brown and Tougaloo. The partnership developed amid the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and has grown to offer semester study exchanges and early opportunities for graduate school enrollment.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

Lavizzo-Mourey, a daughter of two physicians, knew she wanted to be a doctor as a child. She studied as an undergraduate at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and received her MD from Harvard Medical School before interning at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Perhaps best known for her role as president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Lavizzo-Mourey has focused her career on public health initiatives. She took the helm of the foundation, an organization that stresses the need for reducing costs and improving quality in the health care system, in 2003. The foundation’s work encompasses childhood obesity prevention, disease prevention and insurance coverage. Lavizzo-Mourey was trained in geriatrics and served as chief of geriatric medicine at Penn’s medical school, where she was recognized for her focus on patients — she made house calls and created teams of caregivers, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s website.

Eduardo Padron

Presiding over a student body of approximately 175,000, Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padron described the institution in a College Board interview as “a community of true believers passionate about the mission of a college with an open door.” Under Padron, more minority students have graduated from Miami Dade than any other college or university in the country. He has advised six presidential administrations, most recently as chair of the White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans under President Obama. Padron immigrated to the United States as a Cuban refugee at age 15 with little knowledge of English. He completed high school and attended what was then known as Dade County Junior College, now Miami Dade, completing his graduate studies at the University of Florida with a PhD in economics. Padron has dedicated his career to ensuring students receive high-quality education at an affordable price. “Our concern is making sure that people who have the least opportunity are given a chance to get an education,” he told Miami Today in 2012.

Photos courtesy of Brown University.



Life After Brown

A lens into the post-grad experience

‘Just go for it’: Alums learn to carve new paths BY KATE NUSSENBAUM When Alex Keegan ’12 graduated from Brown last May, she found herself working three different jobs while trying to break into the directing world in New York City. “I work all seven days of the week,” she said, noting that she usually spends most of the day at one of her two internships — one with Women’s Project and Production, an off-Broadway theater company, and one at New Dramatist, a play development center. When work at the office wraps up, she heads over to the theater to rehearse a play she is directing or tutors a student in preparation for the SATs. In addition to her two internships, Keegan works for Stanley Kaplan SAT Test Prep — her most lucrative job. “I get home usually around 9:30 or 10 and eat dinner and go to sleep and do the same thing the next day,” she said. “It’s busy.” Close by, Sadie Kurzban ’12 is also trying to make it in New York. But for her, “making it” means growing the nightclub-inspired exercise class she started while at Brown with Brielle Friedman ’12. Called “305 Fitness” after her Miami area code, the class is set to pop and hip-hop music and incorporates dance and sports drills. Kurzban’s days are packed with answering emails, planning events, training instructors and teaching classes. But she said she feels “really lucky to be doing something that I love and just going for it.” Keegan and Kurzban’s immediate experiences in “the real world” reflect a larger fact: There is no typical post-graduate path for alums when they first leave Brown. The majority of the class of 2012 — 65 percent — indicated they planned to enter the workforce straight out of college, according to a survey administered by CareerLAB. About one quarter indicated they were continuing on to graduate school, and 11 percent reported “other endeavors,” including studying abroad through fellowships, volunteering or taking additional courses. Ron Foreman, a CareerLAB adviser, said some students who meet with him say they have no idea what they want to do after graduation. But it’s rare that students actually have no direction, he said. “Their definition of having no idea is having four or five interests.” Recent graduates from the classes of 2011 and 2012 are pursuing their interests in cities across the world. Their jobs range from working with Fortune 500 CEOs in Austin to launching a family-focused nonprofit here in Providence. Still, some common factors tie students together. Many young alums said they were still in close contact with their core group of college friends, and many cited a specific Brown course

or extracurricular group that gave them the skills and motivation to pursue their chosen path after graduation.

The unemployment line

Michael Weissman ’12 and Adam Maynard ’11 headed for two cities further away: Austin and Washington, D.C. Despite living 1,000 miles apart from each other and working for companies in completely different sectors, the alums share something in common: neither found employment by the time of graduation. According to data from CareerLAB, 36 members of the class of 2012 indicated they were COURTESY OF ALEX KEEGAN “seeking employment” Alex Keegan’12 juggles three jobs as she tries to make it in New York. at the time of graduation, representing roughly 3 percent of the student with friends from Brown — they’re all planning responders. to meet at Commencement this year, he said. A physics concentrator, Weissman said he Maynard lived at home in Connecticut for initially planned to teach math or science abroad an entire year before landing his dream job in after graduation. Had he done so, he would have Washington at the U.S. Green Building Council. joined 129 students in last year’s graduating class He said his job enables him to apply what he who indicated they were entering the education learned from his urban studies and environsector, the most popular field of employment mental studies double concentration. for students in the class of 2012. Though many students feel unsure about Though he received an offer from a company what career field to pursue, Maynard said he in Shanghai, he said it was not a good fit, so he knew exactly what issues he was passionate turned it down. about and that he worked hard applying to jobs “I was without a job and unsure of what I throughout senior year. It was tough to have to was going to do,” he said. So he moved back move back home, he said, though he said he is home and began applying for “anything you grateful he could spend time with his younger can imagine a physics degree might be good brother and learn from two different environfor,” focusing his search within what he called mental jobs he held while in Connecticut. the “typical Brown cities”: San Francisco, New York and Boston. City dwellers He expanded his search to Austin at the sugWeissman’s decision to expand his job search gestion of a friend and received an offer from to Austin marks a path less traveled — many Gerson Lehrman Group, a firm that connects young alums focus their job search on the coasts. clients with expert consultants, in October. Kurt Teichert, a lecturer in environmental Though Weissman said he knew little about studies who advises undergraduates, said he the company when he applied, he said he now often advises students to consider staying in feels lucky about the outcome. His job enables Providence or moving to cities that aren’t “San him to speak with people managing vast sums Francisco, New York, Paris or Berlin.” of money, as well as some of the world’s leading “Any city has great communities,” he said. health experts. Stephen Foley, director of undergraduate He works between 50 and 60 hours a week studies for the English department, echoed and said most of his social life involves people Continued on page 12 he met through work. But he is also still in touch



Continued from page 11

Grad school plans

McGoldrick plans to head back to school eventually, as do Maynard and Weissman. McGoldrick and Maynard both hope to pursue master’s degrees in urban planning, and Weissman is contemplating business school. Keegan plans to pursue an MFA in directing. Though she hopes to enroll in a program soon, most schools only take two students each year. Rebecca Schneider, chair of the theater arts and performance studies department, said many students pursuing the performing arts do not need to attend graduate programs straight out of Brown. “You don’t go out fully prepared for a profession. You know yourself, you’re broadly educated and you’re ready to go begin to prepare for a profession,” she said. Both she and Teichert said taking time off to work or travel before pursuing a graduate degree can be advantageous. “I do tend to advocate for students to travel or do more of a short-term assignment,” Teichert said. Foley said he often advises students considering pursuing a Ph.D. in English to take some time off first, both to cultivate experiences that will make them better applicants and to build better survival skills for graduate school. “There are practical reasons, too,” he said. “You better buy a car before living on a graduate student stipend.”

Brown’s lasting impact

All five graduates said they regularly draw on specific courses or experiences they had at Brown. Kurzban said one of the most influential courses she took at Brown was one on entrepre-


Immediate post-grad plans Employment

Grad/Professional School


Percent of students





61 56

50 40 30



Teichert’s message. Though New York and Los Angeles are the country’s two media centers, the Internet has opened up opportunities for students looking to be writers in any location. Rebecca McGoldrick ’12 said remaining in Providence after graduation allowed her to reap benefits from the Brown community. She currently serves as executive director for a nonprofit organization that she and other Brown students co-founded. The organization, Families First, “supports progressive issues related to families and young people in Rhode Island,” she said. “I don’t think I could do the type of work that I’m doing if I weren’t in Rhode Island,” she said. The state’s size enables her to quickly reach “key players” she needs to work with, she said. “I feel like I’m making a difference now,” McGoldrick said. “I loved being at Brown … but toward the end of my academic career, I started getting this feeling, ‘I have all this knowledge. Let me go do something with it.’”

23 17



10 0




Class year

neurship and social ventures taught by Danny Warshay ’87. When she first arrived at Brown, Kurzban began teaching Zumba classes at the OMAC, she said. As she listened to feedback from students, her class slowly evolved away from the Latin music-inspired Zumba into 305 Fitness. During her senior year, Kurzban said she decided she wanted to try to make a living leading the class, so she moved the class to a space she rented in Hillel after the fall semester. Kurzban credits Warshay’s class both in helping her refine her “nightclub” workout idea and in helping her formulate a business plan that she is now putting into action in Manhattan. She has used the money she made from teaching her class at Brown to fund the new iteration of her business. Though Weissman said he did not learn anything specific about finance at Brown, he uses some of the skills he learned through other classes. “What my job is is to take a very complex topic and boil it down as quickly as possible to get down to the nuts and bolts,” he said. The skills he learned from doing rapid research in physics and “writing a late-night paper at the last minute … have definitely paid off.”

Staying connected



Maynard said he has managed to stay well-



connected to the Brown community, especially through Washington’s active alumni community. But some aspects of the transition from the “insular and nurturing environment” of college have been tough. “Being released and scattered to the wind … can be daunting,” he said. Though Keegan said she is far from unhappy, her post-graduation experience has been “different.” “I’m trying to learn how to construct a different but equivalently meaningful happiness in this new structure and this new framework,” she said. She has kept in close contact with her friends from Brown, but she added that they are all trying to figure out how to maintain meaningful relationships while not living within a fiveminute radius. “There’s no longer the spontaneity of late-night conversations,” she said. “How do you recreate those instances and forge those relationships to maintain that level of happiness?” “You end up staying in touch with the people you expect to,” Maynard said. For him, the worst part of leaving Brown is not always being surrounded by his best friends. Without that convenience, he said “developing those really close and connected relationships is hard.” Schneider said she hopes students never lose their college-age curiosity about the world. “Students have a culture that’s really vibrant,” she said.


Doug Liman ’83 was involved in the direction and production of the “Bourne” trilogy. He also directed the action film “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”

Grads find careers in creativity

The path to a career in writing, media and film can be daunting for recent graduates who are used to having every step planned out for them. But these fields offer many possible routes to success, and each journey requires spontaneity and innovation. Life after Brown often begins with waiting tables — a job to pay the bills while true passions are pursued on the side or at night, in lieu of sleep. Five alums, many of whom are returning for their class reunions this year, said their Brown education fostered the passions, skills and close friendships that have accompanied them in their pursuits of their dreams. Though they have established themselves as standouts in their chosen fields, these writers and producers still cherish the relationships they developed as undergraduates, and many of them regularly convene and collaborate with old classmates.

Just beyond the gates

After graduating from Brown, independent film producer Christine Vachon ’83 worked as a proofreader at a cable television company. At night, she proofread to pay her bills, and during

the day she pursued her dream of a career in television by working as a production assistant. After years of working her way into filmmaking, Vachon broke into the business in 1991 when she produced “Poison,” written and directed by Todd Haynes ’85, and was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at that year’s Sundance Film Festival for her work. Since then, she has produced several acclaimed films, including “Boys Don’t Cry,” winner of an Academy Award in 2000. Another, “Far From Heaven,” was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2003. Many seniors leaving Brown can feel like they cannot support themselves unless they land their “dream job” right after graduation, Vachon said. But this fear is misplaced, she said, adding that there are many opportunities in television and film for entrepreneurial students. “If you want to tell stories, the most important thing is to start doing it.” Jeffrey Eugenides ’83 had to work a series of “lousy jobs” right after college to support himself, he said. His first job was as an editor for a “failing magazine” in Northern California. He continued to work various secretarial jobs before publishing his first novel in 1993.


Still, Eugenides cautioned that even for talented novelists, the writing profession is filled with uncertainty and ceaseless doubts about the future. “It’s not a career that you can rely on a series of defined steps,” Eugenides said. “There’s no point to know when you’ve arrived.” But Eugenides himself has found success in the field, receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2003 for his novel “Middlesex.” Two years ago, he published “The Marriage Plot,” a novel about three friends who graduate from Brown and start out on the confusing world of post-college life. Eugenides is now working on a book of short stories. Writer Lois Lowry ’58 said she worked as a freelance contributor to various magazines and newspapers early in her career. Though she has since won wide acclaim for her novels, she said writers cannot start with “phenomenal success” as a primary motivation, since such achievement is rare. Lowry, who dropped out of Brown after her

Continued on page 16 COMMENCEMENT 2013


Continued from page 15 sophomore year, said she focused on raising her children before she fully pursued her writing passion. She published her first novel, “A Summer to Die,” in 1977 at the age of 40, and later achieved her most well-known success with her 1993 novel, “The Giver,” which received a Newbery Medal. For other alums in the media and entertainment business, finding a first job after college flowed naturally from extracurricular pursuits. Director and producer Doug Liman ’88 began his life after Brown heading a nonprofit association of college radio and TV stations. After briefly living in France, he decided to jump into the filmmaking business and moved to Los Angeles, where he connected with several friends from Brown. Liman has since directed and produced the 2002 action film “The Bourne Identity” and served as executive producer for the other two films — “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum” — in the “Bourne” trilogy. He also directed the action film “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and most recently directed “Fair Game,” a 2010 biographical film about former C.I.A. agent Valerie Plame. Television producer Lauren Corrao ’83 P’16, who now works as a consultant for Comcast Entertainment Studios, began as an intern at a Providence television station during her senior year at Brown. Three days after graduating, she started working as a production assistant for MTV, where she would remain for 10 years. Since then, Corrao has worked as an executive at FOX, Comedy Central and A Very Good Production, Ellen DeGeneres’ production company. “I think Brown graduates are positioned quite well these days,” Corrao said, citing the Internet’s impact on media production, which allows tech-savvy producers to cut costs and work outside traditional corporate structures.


Lauren Corrao (second from left) with Jon Stewart and Dave Chappelle at the 2002 Emmy Awards.

to thrive in the newly entrepreneurial environment. Since “a core aspect of the Brown education is independence and leadership,” self-motivated alums have an edge in today’s filmmaking business, he said. Eugenides said the “self-discipline” demanded by the writing profession is a quality that goes hand in hand with the independent streaks of many Brown students. As a former actor in Production Workshop shows at Brown, Eugenides used his theater experiences to try to place himself inside a character’s skin, a skill that came in handy as a writer, he said. “I think there’s a connection between playing a role in a play and trying to inhabit a literary character,” Eugenides said, adding that though theater was his main extracurricular focus as an undergraduate, he also wrote for a campus literary magazine. Corrao explored political science, philosophy and even a “detour” into computer science before being drawn by the film studies classes in the semiotics department, she said. “I felt like I found my passion,” Corrao said, adding that she had never seriously considered filmmaking as a career until taking film studies courses at Brown. She decided to leave her executive job at FOX in 1997 to get away from the corporate environment, and she went on to produce her own show on ABC. Her desire to always challenge the status quo was fueled by “the freedom to explore” that was central to her Brown experience, Corrao said. Lowry said that though she dropped out of Brown after her sophomore year, the English courses she took had a profound impact. One of Lowry’s instructors, the late Professor of English Charles Philbrick, gave Lowry new-

“No two directors follow the same route, and no two Brown students have the same education.”

Built by Brown

Regardless of the paths these alums took to get to where they are today, they all noted the importance of their experiences at Brown, particularly in helping them cultivate a sense of independence and drive. “The Brown curriculum and the unstructured nature of it taught me the skills I needed to survive in the film business,” Liman said. “No two directors follow the same route, and no two Brown students have the same education.” Noting that the entertainment industry is in “a state of flux” in the digital era, Liman indicated Brown graduates are well-positioned


found confidence in her writing talents. “He was really the first person who told me I had the makings of a professional writer,” Lowry said. “That was really very affirming for me.” Other alums pursued academic interests farther afield from their chosen profession. Liman, who concentrated in history, said though he knew he would go into filmmaking after graduation, he sought to use his undergraduate years to get a broad education. “I just wanted to take classes that taught me about the world,” he said.

Lasting ties

Though they have now spent decades outside the Van Wickle Gates, these alums said they have maintained ties with their alma mater and often create their own reunions. When Eugenides was just starting out as a writer after graduating, he spoke with other alums who had also become novelists. “We all gave each other feedback and support,” he said. He added that he still keeps in touch with many friends from Brown and just recently wrote a favorable blurb for “The Interestings,” the latest novel by his former classmate and fellow writer Meg Wolitzer ’81. Corrao, who will be hosting a “Brown Women in Comedy” Commencement forum May 25, said she has come to every fifth-year reunion since graduating. “I’ve stayed in touch with Brown since the moment I graduated,” she said, citing her involvement with a group of alums in the entertainment industry who gather at least once a year to “mostly reminisce” about their undergraduate years. “My closest friends are still the people I was at Brown with,” Vachon said. Liman said he plans on attending this year’s reunion and added that he maintains a whole network of friends from Brown whom he often sees. In fact, he said, his current office in New York City is located just next door to his firstyear roommate’s office.

“I get that feeling every time I walk on the Brown campus. It is that feeling you cannot exactly describe in words, but know it just the same.  … My last reunion, my 15th, was quite memorable.  … One particular evening, aside from Campus Dance, stood out. One of the crew arranged a lobster bake at the house. Friends, spouses, eating well, drinking, reminiscing and as the night went on, the days of old were relived: singing, dancing and acting like, well, like we did on College Hill. On one level it felt like Spring Weekend all over again. On another, it felt we were all still living together. What truly amazes me is that while our lives are so different, with work, families, etc, at the reunion it feels like barely any time had passed. Next year is my 20th reunion, and, one year out, I am already excited.” — Evan Wender ’94




“My 25th milestone reunion was a blast. … A chat with then-President Ruth Simmons, Alumni field day, and walking in processions couldn’t beat the photo-op with the Brown bear and my sophomore roommate, Carmen Rodriguez. I’d like to think my enthusiasm for Brown as a football cheerleader influenced Carmen to remain connected to Brown and devote her time and efforts to the University.” — Jackie Fern ‘83


“On the flight from Los Angeles to Providence for my 25th reunion last May everything I wanted to see on campus occupied my thoughts. I realized that during my four years at Brown I never set foot inside the John Carter Brown Library. Entering the John Carter Brown Library became my goal for reunion weekend.  From the moment I stepped foot on campus, however, that goal took a back seat to my schedule of exciting class activities and social events. … Finally, before piling into a friend’s car on Monday afternoon for the drive to Logan Airport, I hurried to the John Carter Brown library to find the door locked.  The information that the door remained locked the entire weekend only made me feel slightly better.  I have now begun my list of goals for my 30th reunion weekend.” — Tracy Goldstein Shemano ’87





“This past December, my boyfriend arranged — while on deployment in Afghanistan — for my best friend from Brown to fly in and surprise me for my birthday. She lives in New York and I live in Texas, so we hadn’t seen each other in years. Still, we were able to get right back into the swing of things, like not a day had gone by. It wasn’t an official Brown Club reunion, but it was just enough to get me fired up about my 5-year reunion in 2014! Best birthday gift ever. Pressure is on for her boyfriend to return the favor.” — Alyssa Saenz ’09



“The eight of us who lived in a house on Ives Street during senior year have been trying to all get together again for nearly 30 years since graduation. We have come close a few times, but jobs, kids, and other obligations have always stymied us.  Reunion nirvana will occur for me when all eight of us make it!” — Marc Shivers ’84



“My 20th reunion: a crisp May evening, a large white tent, enjoying BBQ supper with 1991 alums. Someone I can’t quite place strides confidently over, slaps my back, a warm ‘Hello, James, buddy, how you doin’?’ I panic. Deer in the headlights. Trying in vain to place the face, decipher that familiar voice (his accent — I know his accent) to extract the name from the distant reaches of my brain. Oh no, time is up and I fail. (Oops — forgot the proper lingo. I get a ‘no credit.’) ‘You don’t recognize your own freshman roommate?’ Ouch.” — James Hirschfeld ‘91


“It was hard to believe that two decades had passed since we walked from Brown into the world through the Van Wickle gates. Just like the old days, we walked in a clump around campus passing old haunts and discovering new buildings. … I am not sure if this is a sign of our age or the quality of conversation that can only occur among good college friends (I am seriously hoping it is the latter), but at our 20th reunion we caught up with most of our classmates while standing on the deck of a glorified multi-unit porta potty set up on the front green. Perhaps we should bring some comfortable chairs to set up on the deck after campus dance next year for our 25th?” — Leslie Stern Richards ’89



Paxson’s progress The University’s 19th president looks back on her first year in office

By Eli Okun


taking an administrative position at Princeton in 2009, Christina Paxson spent two decades as an economist examining tradeoffs, human capital and other concepts that could be applied to her latest role as Brown’s 19th president. But when she arrived on College Hill, Paxson tried on a new discipline: anthropology. “It’s been very, very interesting and really almost exhilarating because I’ve been taking in so much information,” Paxson said. “One of the most important things I needed to do was to learn about Brown’s culture.” In interviews with The Herald, administrators, faculty members and students widely hailed Paxson’s willingness to listen as one of her greatest strengths. The University faces the ongoing challenges of emerging from a crippling recesLYDIA YAMAGUCHI / HERALD sion, navigating unknown territory in online President Paxson formed six committees this year tasked with creating a strategic plan for the University. education and forging ahead with plans for new modes of expansion. Paxson’s admindecamping from a cramped Barus and Holley istration is in the initial stages of forming a Including a diverse set of voices in the stra- and moving to new quarters. broad strategic plan that outlines the Uni- tegic planning process has been an important There is still much dialogue to come. On versity’s future direction. Some of Paxson’s component of the administration’s approach issues like online course development, Brown more immediate policy decisions have already over the past year. is experimenting with various models, but taken effect, including taking steps forward The process began in earnest Oct. 1 with “quite frankly, we really haven’t had a full with the School of Engineering, the School the formation of six strategic planning com- discussion of all the implications of online of Public Health and the Watson Institute for mittees, which met throughout the year to education, what it means for a university International Studies. imagine new priorities and paths forward like Brown,” said Dean of the Faculty Kevin Paxson’s leadership style, particularly for Brown. The committees examined faculty McLaughlin P’12. through the University’s strategic planning hiring and retention, doctoral education, The final plan will likely emphasize broad process, has emphasized a collaborative ap- financial aid and the curriculum. Though principles and goals over specific targets, proach involving a broad circle of people, no committee exclusively focused on diver- which will allow for flexibility to adapt in the administrators and faculty members said. sity or internationalization, administrators years to come, Paxson said. “People are pretty amazed to have a presi- highlighted both as goals that would span But the planning committees’ ambitions dent who is so disarmingly available and the entire planning process. may come up against some hard financial open,” said Department of History Chair KenThe preliminary recommendations the truths. The University’s $2.5 billion endowneth Sacks, who was not the only person to committees released in January were wide- ment, the smallest in the Ivy League, posted use the word “disarming” to describe Paxson. ranging, including a new concert hall, ex- a weak 1 percent annual return in fiscal year Paxson also pansion in the 2012. Federal research funding continues faces the chalJewelry District to shrivel as Washington remains stuck in “One of the most important things lenge of foland a three- gridlock. At Brown, that means some priorilowing former year bachelor’s ties may have to be cut. The University will I needed to do was to learn about President Ruth degree option. complete a financial analysis this summer Brown’s culture.” Simmons, Not all sugges- to assess the feasibility of different recomknown nationtions will make mendations, Paxson said. ally and adored it into the com“That’s just the world that we live in now,” by Brown students. mittees’ final reports, let alone the University’s said Elmo Terry-Morgan ’74, associate profes“President Simmons was almost a once-in- new plan. But taken together, the committees sor of Africana Studies. “We are doing more a-generation gifted communicator, and I think propose a vision for the future of Brown: an with less.” both the president and I struggle with having increasingly flexible curriculum with more The extent to which the University can to communicate in the shadow of President pathways to the community and the world, draw in money through its upcoming capital Simmons,” said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15. continued expansion on and off College Hill, campaign may be critical to determining how Yet Paxson and Simmons share certain and more resources to support faculty mem- many of the priorities can be addressed. characteristics, said Stephen Nelson, higher bers and graduate students. Paxson has been an effective fundraiser for education expert and senior scholar in the Some recommendations have already been certain priorities already, Schlissel said. The Leadership Alliance at Brown. For one, he highlighted as top priorities. The administra- University last month initiated a $160 milsaid, “neither of these folks suffered fools tion affirmed a commitment to going need- lion campaign for the School of Engineering. gladly.” blind for all applicants, a policy currently But it remains to be seen how her ability extended only to domestic first-years. The Continued on page 22 Strategic planning process School of Engineering is also headed toward



Continued from page 21 to raise money will compare to Simmons’, especially as the University moves toward its 250th anniversary next year, a key fundraising opportunity. Simmons’ five-year Campaign for Academic Enrichment brought in $1.6 billion, the largest fundraising drive in University history.

Inititiatives in action

Paxson has already made major decisions that have had an immediate impact on the University. Among the most noteworthy was the choice, made in consultation with other administrators and members of the Committee on Reimagining the Brown Campus and Community, to keep the future School of Engineering on College Hill. At the beginning of the year, there was a significant chance of the School of Engineering relocating to the Jewelry District, said Russell Carey ’91 MA ‘06, executive vice president for planning and policy. Students and faculty members pushed back, and top University administrators “absolutely listened,” Carey said. But the decision not to move needed to be explained to disappointed prospective partners in Providence and Rhode Island, Paxson said. Some choices required more immediate action. Paxson, who led the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, was instrumental in leading the search for a new director of the embattled Watson Institute, Schlissel said. Incoming director Richard Locke, currently at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be its seventh leader in nine years. Paxson also shepherded the upcoming School of Public Health through its final stages of seeking University approval. The school was already well on its way toward official approval under the stewardship of Terrie Wetle, associate dean of medicine for public health and public policy and the school’s future dean. But Paxson, whose research has often focused on the intersection of economics and health, “made that happen pretty fast,” Nelson said. The school was approved by the Corporation in February and will officially be created in July, with leaders hoping for national accreditation by 2015, The Herald previously reported.

Faculty collaboration

Much of Paxson’s perspective is informed by the fact that, unlike Simmons, she was an active researcher until this year, multiple sources said. As president, Paxson has also published one academic paper and given a talk at the World Bank.


“She still thinks like a researcher and an intellectual in a very particular way,” said Patricia Ybarra, professor of theatre arts and performance studies and co-chair of the strategic planning Committee on Educational Innovation. When she first arrived at Brown, Paxson met with every department chair individually to learn about the University’s research and academic offerings. It was an unprecedented step, faculty members said, and one that still gets many professors talking. Sacks described Paxson as part of a “new wave of university presidents that want to demonstrate that they are, first and foremost, of the faculty.” That perception was cemented this spring when Paxson announced that the faculty would sit on stage at Commencement, a privilege that has traditionally been reserved for

“(Paxson) establishes an immediate rapport of collaboration.” administrators, members of the Corporation and other honorees, Terry-Morgan said. Many professors and administrators said they were impressed by Paxson’s visibility at a variety of events on campus — including sports games and less prominent departmental offerings — as well as through the Providence and Rhode Island communities, where Ybarra said the president has worked hard to foster ties. Much of this is attributable to Paxson’s leadership style: engaged and personable but decisive when the time comes, according to faculty members. McLaughlin described it as “no-nonsense informality together with very high standards.” Throughout the planning process, Paxson has opted to include a diverse group of people in the decision-making process. Susan Harvey, professor of religious studies and cochair of the strategic planning Committee on Financial Aid, said Paxson made everyone feel comfortable. “She’s very welcoming of people she’s working with, and she establishes an immediate rapport of collaboration, which is very affirming,” Harvey said. “You really feel you’re in a partnership.”

Student opinion

If Paxson is generally popular among the faculty, she remains something of an unknown entity to much of the student body.

Though her approval-disapproval split in a March Herald poll was roughly 45 percent to 7 percent, a plurality of students — about 48.9 percent — said they had no opinion. Simmons had developed a cult status on campus, meriting a 62.5 percent approval rating in Spring 2011. Some students have been vocal about their dissatisfaction. Herald opinions columnist Daniel Moraff ’14 has criticized the administration for focusing on building renovations and expansion while financial aid priorities remain unmet. And leaders of the Brown Divest Coal Campaign and the Student Labor Alliance, two visible student activist groups on campus, have expressed frustration with Paxson’s unwillingness to move quickly on their priorities. Emily Kirkland ’13, a leader of Divest Coal, said though Paxson has “definitely made herself very available to meet with us, … we would like to see her take bolder steps on the issue.” Campaign members, who had hoped that divestment from coal companies might reach a vote at the Corporation’s meeting this weekend, were disappointed by Paxson’s announcement that more dialogue was necessary, thereby making a vote at this meeting unlikely. Simmons’ actions on other divestment issues reflected a desire to make Brown a leader, Kirkland added, saying she hoped Paxson would help Brown lead on coal divestment. Though the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies recommended divestment this year, the campaign has some prominent skeptics in the administration. Schlissel told The Herald that while he is committed to the principles of the cause and working with students, he believes divestment could set a risky precedent by inspiring a cascade of similar divestment campaigns. The ultimate recommendation will come from Paxson and an ad hoc Corporation subcommittee she has convened to carefully examine the issue, he said.

Guiding principles

Before she came to Brown, Paxson said she read about the University’s commitment to liberal learning, student autonomy and the open curriculum. She was heartened to discover the extent to which these themes continue to guide life on campus. “What I hadn’t realized is how fundamentally those ideas shape the entire University. It’s not just words on paper,” she said. “It was quite remarkable to see how different this place is, relative to other institutions that I’ve been involved with.”

U. aims to expand professional schools In the coming months, administrators will put the finishing touches on a strategic plan to guide Brown through President Christina Paxson’s tenure. The University is slated to proceed with a number of expansion projects in a push that predates Paxson’s arrival. Graduating seniors have seen considerable changes in the University’s professional schools in the last four years. The School of Engineering was formally established in 2010, and Alpert Medical School moved to its new home in the Jewelry District in 2011. The School of Engineering announced in April a $160 million campaign to expand its program and facilities, and the School of Public Health will open in July. Though former President Henry Wriston was vehemently opposed to professional schools, arguing that they inadequately teach critical thinking skills, many current University officials said the goals of recent expansion and increased professionalism are squarely in line with the University’s mission, which includes the objective of serving a larger community and living “life with usefulness and reputation.” Increased investments in public health and engineering will particularly allow the University to make an impact, largely through research, and meet rising student interest in those fields, said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15. “They both represent areas of opportunity where we can build on strength in an area where there is societal need,” he said.

on serving the community, Wetle said, tying the school’s goals directly to the University’s mission. The program has emphasized student independence in developing career tracks, and students and faculty collaborate on interdisciplinary research across the University, she added. More than two-thirds of students and faculty approve of the creation of the School of Public Health, according to Herald polls conducted this spring. In coming years, the school will continue its fundraising efforts, Wetle said, adding that

Promoting public health

The program’s transformation into a School of Public Health has generated a “reputational boost” to the program, said Terrie Wetle, associate dean of medicine for public health and public policy. Wetle, who will become the school’s inaugural dean in July, said local and national organizations have increasingly reached out to the program to initiate collaboration. The public health program has seen increased interest both at the undergraduate and graduate levels after the Corporation’s approval of the school, Wetle said, adding that she expects the student applicant growth rate to increase in coming years. Though faculty size, programs offered and research centers have seen a “growth spurt” in recent years, such expansions may slow due to changes in funding, Wetle said. The opening of the school will represent the culmination of a decade-long effort, during which Wetle has spent considerable time speaking to administrators about how a school of public health would fit into the “culture and ethos of Brown,” she said. The intent of public health includes a focus



A $44 million donation marked the start of a campaign for new engineering facilities.

there is currently a naming opportunity available for the school. The program is currently located at 121 South Main Street, a building that the University purchased in 2005. The location — halfway between the University’s main campus and the Med School — is “quite strategically valuable” for collaborative purposes, said Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, executive vice president for planning and policy.

Expansion of engineering

Though the establishment of a School of Engineering in 2010 mostly represented a name change, the proposal also included plans for ex-

By Sahil Luthra

panding the program, enabling the school to be “more effective and more competitive,” Carey said. The school received $44 million in gifts, launching a campaign to expand the engineering program. The University is planning to build additional engineering facilities on College Hill, but it needs to raise $80 million before selecting an architect and planning the construction in more detail, Carey said. New facilities will likely be located near Barus and Holley, the school’s current home, Schlissel said. Construction will likely involve “a series of smaller, connected buildings” rather than “some big monolith,” he said, adding that some buildings in the area might need to be relocated. “The idea is to make that corner of the campus the engineering and physical sciences corner,” Schlissel said. Schlissel said the decision to keep engineering on College Hill was largely based on the needs of undergraduate engineering students. Though he initially expected the University to select a downtown district for the expanded facilities, data from Sasaki Associates — a design firm hired to aid the strategic planning process — revealed that engineering students take classes in a wide variety of disciplines and that moving facilities to the Jewelry District could hamper their ability to do so, Schlissel said. The growth of the school underscores the University’s desire for Brown to be “a global university with great impact,” said Lawrence Larson, dean of the School of Engineering. Students are also heavily drawn to engineering because of the employment opportunities available to those with an engineering degree, Schlissel said. The campaign will affect student learning primarily through continuing changes to introductory classes, including an increased emphasis on hands-on projects, Larson said. Fundraising will also allow the school to expand particular areas, such as its biomedical engineering program, Larson said. Since 2000, biomedical engineering has represented one of the largest engineering concentrations, according to data from the Office of Institutional Research. Given the limited number of upper-level courses currently offered in biomedical engineering, an enhanced program will help students understand what they can do with a degree in the field, said Kohana Leuba ’14, copresident of Brown’s Biomedical Engineering

Continued on page 25

Continued from page 24 Society. “That’s hard to see when you only have a few options.” An increase in the number of biomedical engineering faculty members will also provide upperclassmen with increased research opportunities, Leuba said, adding that the school has already hired three new faculty members to start this fall.

Continuing to grow

Though the School of Engineering will remain on College Hill, the University is still looking to increase its presence in the Jewelry District, Carey said. Though there are roughly 1,000 University-affiliated individuals located downtown, many people consider the area to be an “empty space,” he added. Start-up companies want to be situated near knowledge-based organizations, Carey said, and the University has already made efforts to expand its research facilities at the Med School and 70 Ship Street. Several administrative offices have moved downtown as well — the Office of Admission began transitioning to its new location on Dyer Street this month. Paxson’s finalized strategic plan, due to be presented to the Corporation in the fall, will likely address future expansion in the Jewelry District. During this year’s planning process, the Committee on Reimagining the Brown Campus and Community did not make many recommendations for potential facilities in the Jewelry District, though the group did suggest a new home for the University’s orchestra as one possible option. In its interim report, the committee also emphasized the need for an easy transportation system between the College Hill campus and the Jewelry District, a point that Larson emphasized in discussing the potential for engineering collaborations with groups downtown. Schlissel pointed to research in the brain sciences as another possible subject area for

growth in the near future. The University has recently committed seven positions for brain sciences faculty, reflecting increased investment in the Brown Institute for Brain Sciences — a group comprising faculty in neuroscience, computer science, engineering and cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences, as well as several of the Med School’s clinical departments. “Hopefully when we develop ideas for the next big fundraising campaign, we’ll feature prominently the goal to build a brain science building,” Schlissel said, adding that it is too early to know if it would be located on College Hill or in the Jewelry District. Paxson is widely expected to launch a capital campaign following the announcement of her strategic plan, The Herald reported in March. The University originally planned to build a $69 million Mind Brain Behavior building that would coincide with the merger of the Department of Psychology and the Department of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences, but the plan was abandoned in 2009 due to economic constraints. Instead, Metcalf Research Laboratory was renovated to house the combined department, The Herald reported in 2010. The University has also increased its focus on humanities initiatives in recent years. “Humanities are as important as anything else that we do,” Schlissel said, but “the types of investment one needs to be successful in the humanities are very different from the types of investment you need to be successful in engineering or science.” Schlissel noted the particular resources necessary for success in the humanities include strong graduate students and travel funding, instead of expensive equipment. The strategic plan will also incorporate a set of signature initiatives — areas of societal interest on which faculty from a variety of departments can collaborate. These initiatives, which are expected to be announced as part of Paxson’s strategic plan, will largely inform University expansion, Carey said.


The School of Public Health is slated to open in July in its “strategically valuable” location.

Divest Coal urges U. to make first move

Bill McKibben, environmentalist and founder of the campaign, cited three statistics to outline his concerns about climate change in a 2012 Rolling Stone article titled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” The temperature of the Earth cannot rise more than 2 degrees Celsius, he wrote, without inflicting disastrous effects on the environment. This means that the world can only release about 565 more gigatons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, according to McKibben. His article did more than restate points about climate change. McKibben proposed a plan of action that included harnessing the power of college

movements to help spur change. “The campaign in the 1980s demanding divestment from companies doing business in South Africa … rose first on college campuses and then spread to municipal and state governments,” he wrote. A month after the article’s publication, around five undergraduates began laying the groundwork for Brown Divest Coal, a student group committed to ethical investing and environmental justice that has grown to 100 active members on campus. Brown Divest Coal is one of hundreds of campus movements across the nation that have answered McKibben’s call to action on climate

By Sona Mkrttchian

change. Its push for divestment has yielded results. The Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, will likely vote on divesting at its October meeting if it is not brought up for a vote during this month’s meeting, said Emily Kirkland ’13, a leader of the group.

‘Burning’ the way

Previous efforts at environmental activism have lacked a crucial element — a defined enemy

Continued on page 26 COMMENCEMENT 2013


“I’m worried about exposing the University to a lengthy string of symbolic actions that may not have the intended consequence but progressively constrain our ability to manage the endowment so that the University remains healthy,” he said. Still, Schlissel said collaborating with student groups to consider the issue is “critical” and that it will be reviewed “in a clear and thoughtful matter.”

From the grassroots up


Members of Divest Coal gathered on the Main Green last November to petition the University.

Continued from page 25

for supporters to rally around, McKibben wrote. “A rapid, transformative change would require building a movement, and movements require enemies,” he wrote. His proposed target: fossil fuel companies. These firms, along with energy-exporting countries, hold reserves amounting to approximately 2,975 gigatons of carbon emissions, McKibben wrote. “Most people tiptoe around the issue … because there’s so much involved in climate change,” said Dawn King, assistant visiting professor of environmental sciences. “To actually point a finger — that’s a new approach.” The primary logic behind popular support for mass divestment from fossil fuel companies is financial. As more investors sell their stock holdings in these firms, the shares will decrease in value. By targeting the firms’ bottom lines, environmentalists believe they can pressure them to reduce their carbon emissions. “The link for college students is even more obvious in this case,” McKibben wrote. “If their college’s endowment portfolio has fossil fuel stock, then their educations are being subsidized by investments that guarantee they won’t have much of a planet on which to make use of their degree.” “The article was certainly a turning point in the movement,” said Shea Riester, campus divestment organizer with “If these companies are left to do their bidding, then the world burns,” Riester added. “He just put it so clearly.”

Brown is not Green

Before arriving on campus for the fall semester, a group of Brown students discussed meeting to organize and evaluate the University’s investment practices. They contacted each other through old listservs for other campus environmental groups. Brown Divest Coal launched in September with fewer than 10 members and held its first


official meeting with President Christina Paxson in October. The group has tried to work within what University administrators have called an “established structure” for submitting these types of proposals for change, Kirkland said. “We’ve been putting really consistent pressure on the administration,” she said. “I think that’s made it hard for them to ignore us.” The campaign received support and guidance from nonprofits like and community organizers like Riester, who help students access the information needed to engage in productive dialogue with members of the administration. After gaining momentum throughout the fall semester, the movement saw its first major breakthrough in January, when the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies recommended the University “publically divest” from the “Filthy 15” — a list of the largest coal companies in the United States complied by the Energy Action Coalition. A petition urging University divestment has thus far collected 2,700 undergraduate signatures, 300 alumni signatures and 100 faculty member signatures, said Rachel Bishop ’13, a group member. “The University has spoken, so it’s time for the Corporation to as well,” Kirkland said. But the University hasn’t always spoken with one voice. Though ACCRIP recommended divestment, Paxson called for further “careful consideration” in a Herald guest column last month. And in an interview this month, Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 told The Herald that though the administration and students are both deeply committed to the environment, he thinks divestment in this case is a “bad” and “distracting” approach. Schlissel questioned what would come next if the movement succeeds, saying that the University could theoretically be pressured to divest from oil companies, natural gas companies and advertising companies that represent cigarette companies, among others.

At a Divest Coal rally May 3, students from schools across the Northeast joined approximately 100 Brown students to protest outside Paxson’s office on the Main Green. The crowd urged Paxson to exit University Hall and declare an affirmative vote for divestment. “What we’ve been thinking about recently is creating regional nodes of power,” said Hannah Mills, a freshman at Columbia. Regional connections have been vital to the growth of campus movements, Mills said, adding that the convergence of activists at Swarthmore College in February offered a great opportunity to meet other activists. “The more we can cross-pollinate ideas across different regions, the stronger we will be as a movement,” Riester said. Students may first feel intimidated “in the face of such a huge issue,” Bishop said, but by simplifying what defines success, the divestment movement has shifted the issue to a workable scale. “While I don’t think I can necessarily change my congressman’s mind, I can certainly change the administration’s mind,” Bishop said. The effectiveness of the divestment movement depends on building success on a number of levels. “In itself, Brown divesting is not going to change climate change, but it’s going to help create a national consciousness,” Riester said, including significant “media attention” if the University chooses to divest. As of last month, five U.S. universities — including Unity College, Hampshire College, Sterling College, Santa Fe Art Institute and the College of the Atlantic — have pledged to divest from coal. All of these schools have endowments of under $1 billion.

University decisions

In response to the upsurge of college activism and McKibben’s national “Do the Math” tour, the Aperio Group, an investment management firm in California, released a report called “Do the Investment Math: Building a Carbon-Free Portfolio.” The firm conducted statistical analysis to determine how divestment from the “Filthy 15” firms would affect a university portfolio consisting of the Russell 3000, a broad stock index of United States companies. The report found that divestment “increases absolute portfolio risk by only 0.0006 percent.”

Continued on page 27

Continued from page 26 The sizes of university endowments — the University has a significantly larger endowment than schools that have divested — matter less than the chosen investment strategies, said Liz Michaels, chief of staff at Aperio. If a University endowment portfolio is actively investing, instead of simply constructing portfolios that track larger indices, it already holds a 5 percent risk, she said. A representative from the University Investment Office could not be reached for comment on the University’s portfolio practices. Beppie Huidekoper, executive vice president for finance and administration, told The Herald she had no comment on the issue of divestment. The Aperio report suggests that University endowments will not be significantly affected by divestment from fossil fuel companies. King added that recent energy trends may also lower the attractiveness of such investments, as discoveries of shale gas reserves have contributed to a national shift away from coal toward natural gas. “There’s a camp of people that believe that these stocks are overvalued and that the portfolio will

perform worse for having them,” Michaels said. Universities may also face structural problems related to commingled funds, combined accounts in which coal company investments could be tied to the endowments of other universities. This would make individual divestment difficult in a technical sense. “You can’t divest part of a commingled account. … It would be hard to get everyone to do this,” Michaels said. But structural problems should not prevent schools from aligning their investment strategies with their ethics, Riester said, adding that the schools that have already pledged to divest “had commingled funds, they had bureaucratic problems, but they got over it.” “An institution like Brown is afraid to be the first big university to do this. Brown doesn’t want to be Hampshire College. Harvard doesn’t want to be the College of Atlantic,” Riester said. “It’s a shame … they are afraid to take the step,” he added.

Looking forward

Paxson publicly announced in April that the

Corporation is unlikely to vote on divestment at its May meeting. “I would be very surprised if it were to happen by the May meeting of the Corporation,” Schlissel said, since the ad hoc committee was only recently formed. “It’s not on the category of an emergency, and I think the Corporation’s going to want to be thoughtful about this.” Nonetheless, he said it was “on the table for sure.” But members of Brown Divest Coal promise to continue campaigning through the summer and return to campus in the fall ready to take on the Corporation again. “Consistency is what we’re bringing,” Kirkland said. “If they don’t vote in May, we will absolutely be back.” Bishop said she wishes the Corporation would take the time to review the measure in May, as “the window to act on climate change is slowly closing.” “We’ve been hearing from people … that climate change is this terrible looming thing for a long time,” Bishop said. “This is a chance to use our leverage and make a change.” — With additional reporting by Eli Okun

After 16 years, R.I. legalizes same-sex marriage A signature from Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 May 2 concluded a 16-year-long journey to legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island. Just nine years after a landmark Massachusetts Supreme Court case allowed gay couples in that state to marry, Rhode Island became the final state in New England — and the 10th in the country — to approve same-sex marriage. After years of stagnation in the state legislature, the bill gained momentum this year as public opinion continued to turn in its favor, and Brown student groups ramped up their efforts to raise support for same-sex marriage. Gay couples can legally marry starting Aug. 1.

Decades-long history

Until 2013, legislation to legalize same-sex marriage had never made it to the floor of either chamber of the state legislature. Former Rep. Mike Pisaturo, D-Cranston, introduced the first House bill to legalize same-sex marriage in 1997, continuing to sponsor this legislation to no avail until 2000, when he lost his bid for reelection. Rep. Arthur Handy, D-Cranston, introduced the House legislation every year thereafter, including this year’s successful bill. The only time a same-sex marriage bill received a vote before this year was in the House Judiciary Committee, when former state congressman and current U.S. Rep. David Cicilline ’83, D-R.I., was the only member of the 10-person committee to vote in favor. Retired Sen. Rhoda Perry P’91, D-Providence,

introduced a Senate bill approving same-sex marriage every year from 2000 to 2013, when Sen. Donna Nesselbush ’84, D-Pawtucket, took up the cause. The General Assembly passed legislation legalizing civil unions in 2011, but few couples took advantage of the new option, The Herald reported at the time. And organizations for same-sex marriage denounced civil unions as “separate and unequal,” said Ray Sullivan, campaign director for Marriage Equality Rhode Island. It was tough to get a vote on same-sex marriage legislation during the tenure of former Gov. Donald Carcieri ’65 from 2003 to 2011 because he had vowed he would not sign the bill if it came to his desk, Handy said. Chafee’s election in 2011 marked the beginning of better prospects for same-sex marriage, he added. In the 2012 election, voters selected an additional 10 representatives and five senators who

By Mariya Bashkatova

were openly in favor of same-sex marriage, improving the likelihood of passage. Though state Senate President Teresa M. Paiva Weed, D-Jamestown and Newport, opposes samesex marriage, she permitted the legislation to pass by allowing a floor vote in the Senate. Changing public attitudes on same-sex marriage and an outpouring of support from constituents also influenced many legislators’ votes. At the Senate floor vote, many previously undecided senators said the personal stories they heard from same-sex couples weighed heavily on their decisions to ultimately support the bill. The legislation sailed through the House Jan. 24 by a 51–19 margin. The Senate was considered a harder battle, with supporters and opponents

Continued on page 28


Students celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage in Rhode Island.



Continued from page 27 split almost evenly and many senators still undecided. Ultimately, all five Republican senators and many other undecided senators said they would vote in favor of the bill, paving the way for its 26–12 passage April 24. After a swift procedural vote in the House Judiciary Committee and on the House floor to vote to address amendments to the original bill added by the Senate, the legislation landed on Chafee’s desk. At the Senate floor vote on same-sex marriage, Nesselbush thanked previous generations of same-sex marriage supporters for their years of dedication. “As a Brown graduate, it’s meaningful to me to be in the forefront leading a charge that will advance civil rights,” Nesselbush told The Herald.

Faith-based opposition

A handful of state legislators consistently introduced legislation over the past decade to make same-sex marriage illegal and define marriage in the state as “one man and one woman.” Sen. Frank Ciccone, D-Providence, a same-sex marriage opponent, introduced a 2013 compromise bill that would have placed the question of legalization on the 2014 ballot. But many activists for same-sex marriage said that voters should not be able to decide on the civil rights of a minority. The bill never made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. As debate surrounding the legislation heated up, same-sex marriage continued to face opposition from members of the Faith Alliance, an umbrella organization of faith-based organizations that opposed the bill. In the predominantly Catholic state, much of the opposition was religious. Opponents of the legislation, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence and the Rhode Island branch of the National Organization for Marriage, often cited the will of God and traditional family norms as reasons against allowing same-sex marriage. Luis Rodriguez, chairman of the Faith Alliance, told The Herald in January that same-sex marriage in Massachusetts has negatively affected “our beliefs, for churches, for education and what

things are being taught to the kids.” He said he believes that marriage is defined by God and should be limited to one man and one woman. The Diocese of Providence issued a press release the day after the legislation passed asking Catholics to view same-sex marriage critically. “Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend samesex ceremonies, realizing that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others,” said Bishop Thomas Tobin in the press release. Many other religious organizations and groups — including the Rhode Island Episcopal Church and the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island — publicly declared their support for same-sex marriage.

Student activism

Student activism for same-sex marriage has included phone-banking, canvassing, raising awareness on campus and a Valentine’s Day march to the State House, said Sofia Fernandez Gold ’14, former president of the Brown Democrats. The Brown Democrats have spent three years working toward same-sex marriage legalization and made the cause their top priority this semester, she said. With public support for the legislation rising steadily in Rhode Island, it was important to connect Rhode Islanders with their legislators through phone-banking, Fernandez Gold said. The Brown Queer Alliance — which generally supports same-sex marriage but is not “an explicitly political group” — collaborated with the Brown Democrats to organize and publicize the phone-banks, said Irene Rojas-Carroll ’15, former co-chair of the Queer Alliance. During months of phone-banking, students talked to more than 4,600 people “and mobilized nearly 1,900 supporters” to encourage them to call their senators and representatives to voice their support for same-sex marriage, Fernandez Gold said. “Making those voices heard is how we won this time around,” she added. Ashleigh McEvoy ’15, a former Herald copy

editor, interned at Marriage Equality Rhode Island and worked with the phone-banks, writing letters to senators, organizing community involvement and writing letters to be published in local newspapers, she said. Many senators targeted by callers ended up changing their minds in favor of same-sex marriage, she said. About 40 students were consistently involved in phone-banking efforts at Brown. Since Brown has such a large percentage of students who support same-sex marriage, McEvoy said she thought more people would have turned out to events. “Everyone is there in spirit,” she added. About 200 Brown and Rhode Island School of Design students took part in the Valentine’s Day march to the State House, co-hosted by the Brown Democrats and Brown Queer Alliance. “We’re incredibly proud that we were a part of such a momentous event in Rhode Island history,” Fernandez Gold said.

Ongoing efforts

Same-sex marriage was up for consideration in at least six states this year. Delaware granted same-sex couples the right to marry May 7, and Minnesota approved same-sex marriage a week later, on May 14. A same-sex marriage bill also has a good chance of passing in Illinois. The U.S. Supreme Court is slated to issue a verdict on two important cases in June, which could decide the future of same-sex marriage for the entire country. But supporters of gay rights said marriage should not be considered the only objective. “Same-sex marriage is important, and I’m so happy that we’re able to work together with campus organizations to make it happen,” RojasCarroll said, “but it’s not the be-all end-all.” Supporters said they hoped the activism behind same-sex marriage could be used to confront other issues affecting queer and transgendered individuals, such as homelessness and employment discrimination. The issues are “really a matter of life and death for some people,” Rojas-Carroll said. Marriage is a right that is “very accessible for a lot of people, so that could open up pathways for acceptance,” McEvoy said.

Professor leaves legacy of exploration Tim, Tom and Craig hurtled down the mountain, three pinwheels of red and blue on an infinite expanse of white, far from Providence. Ice axes desperately striking the mountain, they dragged themselves to a stop after 300 meters, stranded from their trail. Professor of Geological Sciences Tim Mutch, Tom Binet ’78 and Craig Heimark ’76 had set out together, the first of their seven-man party to approach the summit of Mount Nun, a 7,135-meter


peak. Bound by rope, they fell together, too. The cliffs are slanted at a hostile 60 degrees, and the air seared at 30 degrees below zero. They knew they couldn’t return that night. So they chiseled a ledge in the side of the ice and rested, 22,000 feet above the ground. The men talked. “Why the hell did we do that? What the hell were we climbing?” Heimark remembered asking himself. They spoke of their kids and families. Of their

By Sabrina Imbler

love of exploration, of testing the limits of what they could do. Of how hard it was for people to understand why they were doing this. What they were doing was returning to the Himalayas for the second time in two years, an expedition that would claim Mutch’s life. Why,

Continued on page 29

Continued from page 28 though, was a question not as easily answered.

A singular attraction

Tall and lanky with wire-rimmed glasses and a shock of sandy hair, Mutch nurtured a boyish curiosity that belied his near 50 years, remembered Rebecca Moore ’77, a member of the first expedition. In the 1970s, when the University’s New Curriculum was still new, Mutch offered a Modes of Thought course: “Exploration.” The Modes of Thought program sought to inspire first-years’ intellectual curiosity. The course tracked the “singular, compelling attraction” exploration held for men throughout history, according to Mutch’s course description. It culminated with the opportunity to test exploration itself. The open expedition marked Mutch’s first time leading a Brown group of climbers and attracted a diverse array of students and faculty, most of whom had never taken Mutch’s course. “There was no thread of connection except they all decided to do this very Brunonian thing,” said Liz Wheeler ’79, a member of the first expedition and a Brown professor of psychiatry and human behavior. Students took the initiative to handle the logistics of the expedition. A space pioneer who directed surface photography for the Viking 1 space probe on Mars, Mutch never abandoned old-fashioned exploration ­— mountaineering ­— his whole life. “I never knew if he was in outer space or there with us at the moment,” said John Braman ’77, a member of the first expedition. “Or in both places at once.”

Expedition 1: Against the elements

The Nanda Devi and the two peaks of Devistan I and II stand at more than 25,000 feet and 21,000 feet, respectively. These giants lie within a near insurmountable halo of alpine crests, 12 of which exceed 21,000 feet. Only one passage exists to the sanctuary of Nanda Devi that would serve as the expedition’s base camp: a narrow, treacherous river canyon called the Rishi Gorge. Hundreds of local porters,boxes roped to their backs, had lashed together trees and logs into a bridge several feet above the river. Spring had just come to the Himalayas when the Brown group set out on the first expedition in 1978. The glacial melt surged into a torrential river that rose each hour, Moore said. The noise was deafening. “It was a race against time,” she said. A few members of the 33-person party had been delayed in Delhi. Among them were Moore and Paul Palatt, a biology research assistant. Eager to rejoin the others, Palatt went on alone. But as he stepped to the center of the river, a wave flooded the bridge and swept him away. Minutes later, Moore arrived at the gorge to see the bridge had washed out completely. She


Mutch, in red, embarked with alums Binet and Heimark to climb Mount Nun, a Himalayan peak.

learned that Palatt had been carried away into the river from Czech climbers who saw him lose his footing. She sprinted down the river to find him. She found a 100-foot waterfall. A runner caught up with the group in a meadow high above the gorge to deliver the news. Palatt’s body was never recovered. Mutch, whose father was a preacher, held a memorial service for Palatt. They remained in the meadow for days, grappling with the loss. But they unanimously decided to carry on. Above 12,000 feet on Devistan, rocks and glaciers pockmarked with deep crevasses suffocate all vegetation. Everyone split into small teams to approach the peak. Wheeler remembers taking four to six breaths before each step. “The altitude was really surprising,” she said. “How tired you would be. How deformed your body got — swollen and burnt.” Twenty-four members of the expedition reached the peak, a success. Wheeler and Moore climbed the summit of Devistan with two other women, the only all-female team on the expedition. They sat there for an hour, facing the panorama of the colossal mountain of Nanda Devi shooting up out of the foothills. “It blew you away,” Wheeler said. They buried Palatt’s wool cap at the summit. Wildflowers greeted the weary climbers upon their return to the sanctuary. “We had come from a world of ice and rock,” Moore said. “It was like we were coming back to life.”

Expedition 2: In thin air

A decade after one of his early climbs in the Himalayas, a young Mutch found out he did not actually reach the summit. He had stopped at an illusory peak. “It pushed him to want to go back,” Binet said. So in 1980, Mutch led a second expedition of six other members — among them Binet, Heimark and Nat Siddall ’82 — of the Devistan trek, seri-

ous mountaineers who wanted to tackle a more ambitious mountain, said Siddall, a member of both expeditions. They chose Mount Nun, all 7,135 meters of it. Heimark, Binet and Mutch were the first to make the summit push. They reached the summit on a clear, frigid day. Binet cried with joy. “It was the best half-hour of my entire life, to see we were the highest in the horizon, the clouds below us,” he said. But most mountaineering accidents happen on the way down, Heimark said. Mutch faltered while descending, dragging Heimark and Binet down the mountain for hundreds of meters. When they stopped, Mutch was concussed, his glasses torn from his face during the plunge. So they chipped out the ledge and waited, marooned in a world of white. Mutch had lost one of his crampons, metalspiked devices necessary to climb ice. After a brief consultation, Heimark and Binet secured Mutch to the ledge and returned to camp for spares. Binet climbed back up to the ledge alone. Only the steel of Mutch’s ice axe glinted from the ledge where he once sat. Binet called out in the stillness. He saw a trail in the powder and followed it to an overhang. No sign of Mutch. Night came quickly. Binet decided to stay at the ledge. His only meal — a can of tuna fish — had frozen solid, so he ate M&Ms, occasionally shouting Mutch’s name in the quiet gloom. “Maybe he would wander back,” Binet remembered hoping. In the morning, a haggard Binet realized he had to return. During his descent, his sleeping bag slipped out of its pouch and tumbled down the mountain. “It was another thing sliding out of my life,” Binet said. “I thought, ‘I could just go to sleep here and not wake up. Why should I go on?’” But after a few moments he knew. “I’m not ready

Continued on page 30 COMMENCEMENT 2013



An expedition member saved a porter from falling into the Rishi Gorge.

Continued from page 29 to die,” Binet remembered thinking. “So I got back up and continued down to Craig.” Binet’s feet had flushed an ashen gray overnight from frostbite. They needed to leave, and soon. But first they built a cairn for Mutch. Siddall and another member abandoned camp to search when the summit party failed to return. They encountered two figures “like zombies, shambling along,” Siddall said. It was Heimark and Binet.

They all huddled together in one of the two tents they had set up days before. The men sat in silence, speaking only about Mutch and the logistics of returning to base camp. It snowed all night. They descended in one day the summit they took four days to climb.

Mutch remembered

A year after his death, NASA renamed the Viking 1 lander the “Thomas A. Mutch Memorial Station.” A crater on Mars bears his name. A plaque remembering Mutch will accompany the lander when humans first set foot on Mars. “I would just sit and think about how lucky I was to be alive,” Binet said after the second expedition. While some members would mountaineer for years following, others never climbed again. But

for many, the first expedition to Devistan was a lifelong dream realized, Peters said. Since 1978, most of the climbers — professors, classmates and former best friends — have lost contact. But during this Commencement Week, 25 of the 33 members of first Brown expedition will reunite in Providence 35 years after it occurred. For the anniversary, Moore, who leads the Google Earth Outreach program, designed a virtual model of the first expedition that matches photos from the trek to real locations. But reconnecting the members of the expedition will be the primary concern, Peters said. “How many people get to have an experience like that?” Wheeler said. “To have your life feel so meaningful, so young.” “It’s with me forever and all the time,” said Binet, whose 10 toes were amputated from frostbite. When Binet and his wife moved into their first apartment, the first thing they hung on their wall was the photo of Binet, Heimark and Mutch at the summit of Nun. It’s still there, with a quote from T.S. Eliot. “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.”

In memoriam: Avi Schaefer Three years have passed since the pedestrian accident that claimed the life of Avi Schaefer, a former member of the class of 2013, but family, friends and faculty members still remember him vividly as a transformative member of the Brown community. “Avi was somebody who was intensely passionate about whatever he was doing,” said Yoav Schaefer, Avi’s twin brother and a sophomore at Harvard. From his childhood in Santa Barbara, Calif., to a three-year term of service in the Israeli Defense Forces, and finally to Brown, Avi applied himself with vigor to every part of his life. “There were conversations and projects and ideas he wanted to get started on,” said Janet Cooper Nelson, University chaplain.

Man of faith

Before Brown, Avi’s time in the army helped shape his identity — it disillusioned him, but also made him a leader who valued empathy and selflessness, Yoav said. “He had been on his own, and you could feel that,” Cooper Nelson said. Avi loved the army and spent extra time serving in the Israeli Defense Forces, helping to train other soldiers and instilling them with his values, Yoav said. During his brief time in Providence, Avi helped to train the city police SWAT team in counter-terrorist and hostage situations, said Arthur Gross-Schaefer, Avi’s father. But Avi struggled over how to acknowledge


his experiences as a soldier while remaining an accessible person, said Josh Moses ’13, a close friend of Avi who lived on his freshman hall in Keeney Quadrangle. His faith and commitment to the Jewish people were a large part of his identity, said Laurie GrossSchaefer, Avi’s mother, adding that Shabbats at Hillel were an integral part of his week. Many less religious friends followed Avi to Hillel, said Greg Sewitz ’13, a close friend of Avi who also lived in Keeney. Chavurah — an inviting, egalitarian Jewish service — became more popular due to Avi’s influence, said Jack DeTar ’13, Avi’s close friend who also lived in Keeney. After Avi’s death, the Hillel community planted a tree in its garden in his memory.


Though Avi never saw himself as a strong student, Yoav said he thrived at Brown both socially and intellectually. “He was a sponge, soaking up all the information,” Laurie said. He loved the Rockefeller Library, she recalled, adding that on one visit, Avi took here to the Rock to show her “all the nooks and crannies.” “I think his goal was to do every single reading in every single class,” said Sarah Rapoport ’10 MD’15, who met Avi at the Hillel barbeque during orientation week. Both were very passionate

By Katherine Cusumano

about Israel, she said, and were taking introductory Arabic courses. But more than mastering academics in the abstract, Avi was concerned with how his studies related to the world. “He wasn’t really concerned with being in the lofty space, he wanted to bring everything down,” DeTar said. He would often continue discussions about readings outside the classroom, Resnick said. Resnick recalled that Avi always tried to bring his real-life experiences into conversations during the first-year seminar they took together. Avi was an active participant in class discussions and frequented office hours, said Maud Mandel, associate professor of history and Judaic studies. “He was not a passive learner,” she said. At times, he would challenge ideas she presented and acted as a sounding board for the effectiveness of ways she approached specific topics in her class, JUDS 1712: “The History of Zionism and the Birth of the State of Israel.” He came to her class as a patriotic Israeli citizen who “wanted to test the inherited myths from being inculcated into a military system,” she said. Laurie said Avi was drawn to Brown because it was a community where people cared more about understanding than winning an argument. “I think

Continued on page 31

Continued from page 30 it helped him come out, to feel safe and willing to explore,” she said. When Sarah Friedland ’14, Avi’s friend from his childhood in Santa Barbara, was accepted to Brown early decision, Avi knew even before she was notified — he was friends with her admissions officer and would regularly visit the admissions office to advocate on Friedland’s behalf. “He was just so excited and so supportive,” she said. “I felt like this older brother-friend was waiting for me here.”

Liberating voices

Avi carried himself with a natural confidence, Lewis said, adding that serving in the Israeli army made him someone who could get things done. Avi wrote an open letter to Common Ground, a group that aims to educate the University community about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as a Herald op-ed column in November 2009. This prompted feedback, including an invitation to work with David Jacobson, professor of Judaic Studies, through an Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award. Jacobson had a nascent idea for a course that would incorporate narratives from both sides of the conflict, he said. Avi’s column demonstrated that he could see both perspectives, Jacobson said. A large part of his legacy at Brown was his support for civil and productive dialogue, which is not present on many other campuses, said Zach Ingber ’15, president of Brown Students for Israel. He encouraged candor among acquaintances, Cooper Nelson said. He genuinely desired that people share their true feelings, and he would do the same in turn — “that was a remarkable freer of people’s voices and tongues,” she said. Before Avi’s death, Jacobson said he only had a few meetings with Avi and Sami Jarbawi ’12, Avi’s friend who had grown up in Palestine, to discuss the structure of the course. Jacobson and Jarbawi followed through on the necessary research the summer following the accident, and Jacobson taught the course twice. “He was the catalyst,” Jacobson said. During winter break of his freshman year, Avi planned a fundraiser at Blu, a nearby bar, to benefit individuals affected by the earthquake in Haiti, Laurie said. Avi hoped this fundraiser would be a model for other campuses — “he always had a bigger picture,” Gross-Schaefer said. His strong work ethic also manifested in preliminary plans for a conference to bring Middle Eastern scholars to campus and encourage communication across the divide of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Sewitz said.

discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on college campuses. Approximately 40 student leaders of pro-Israel or pro-Palestine groups around the Ivy League attended the colloquium. Many of these individuals had never been exposed to the alternate perspective before, Yoav said. Speakers at the colloquium included individuals who had acted as consultants in negotiations for each side as well as representatives of the Israeli and Palestinian points of view, Gross-Schaefer said. Avi was interested in bridging gaps in understanding, Laurie said. “He wasn’t really interested in advocacy.” In addition to the colloquium, the Avi Schaefer Fund hosts an annual daylong symposium in Jerusalem. The most recent iteration drew over 300 individuals — educators, North American students studying abroad and post-graduates studying in Israel, Yoav said. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains one of the most divisive issues in the Jewish community, Yoav said. The symposium offers a place for conversation between individuals who might not talk otherwise. Rapoport received a fellowship in Israel the year after her graduation, during which time she attended the symposium. The event was partly sentimental, but also brought together an array of powerful players in Israeli politics — from journalists and writers to politicians — who discussed their opinions with students, she said. Campuses across the country also host annual Shabbats, a Jewish tradition observed on the anniversary of a person’s death, in Avi’s memory. These events invite discussion about how one person can make a difference in a community, Laurie said. The fund has also developed innovation grants given to institutions that take the Shabbat beyond the norm through interfaith services or service projects over school breaks, she said. Gross-Schaefer said he hopes to continue Avi Shabbats and the Jerusalem symposium in the future, as well as organizing a variety of events across the United States.

Mass appeal

“Avi was also someone who loved to party,” Yoav said. “He loved to be with friends and to be in social situations.” He brought energy to every occasion, Rapoport said, adding that activities from cooking to doing dishes were more fun in his presence. From the outset, Avi had a strong group of friends at Brown from his pre-orientation program and his freshman dorm, Laurie said. “Everybody has a story here of great depth, and Avi was a good listener and a good friend,” she said. He was supportive and encouraging, Rapoport said, adding that he was willing to have serious conversations in any setting or time of day. DeTar, Sewitz, Lewis and Moses all currently live together and remain close, a fact DeTar credits in part to Avi’s memory. Because he was older, he acted as a leader, pushing his friends to do more. Avi taught the four many drinking games, how to prepare poike, an Israeli dish made of meat and beans and traditionally prepared while camping, and how to block a knife attack, Sewitz said. “He was always looking for a nice Jewish girl,” Sewitz said. “He somehow found them all,” Lewis added. The summer following Avi’s death, DeTar, Sewitz, Lewis and Moses traveled to Israel. Avi had a profound connection to the country, and they wanted to experience the place he had loved so much, DeTar said, adding that he was struck by how well known Avi and Yoav were throughout Israel. “They were just kings in Tel Aviv,” Sewitz said. Other friends commemorated Avi through separate visits to Israel — one went on an archaeological dig. Another became a Middle East Studies concentrator. “Everyone who knew him felt close to him,” Friedland said. While it is difficult to measure one person’s influence on an institution, Yoav said he thought Avi made lasting impressions on an individual level. “I don’t think he was aware of the impact he was making throughout his life,” Yoav added.

The Avi Schaefer Fund

The conference Avi envisioned came to fruition in 2012 as a student leadership colloquium sponsored by the Avi Schaefer Fund, a nonprofit created in Avi’s memory by his family to promote


Avi Schaefer ’13 was a beloved friend and advocate for dialogue on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.



VOICES OF 2013 Thoughts and reflections from 17 members of the graduating class The ‘funny guy’ “So you’re a funny guy, huh? Let’s hear a joke.” Words no one ever, ever, wants to hear. Especially not in a med school interview. But it was my own fault. I was the idiot who walked into the stand-up audition three years earlier. I was the idiot who sent in a humor writing sample just a few months after that. I was the idiot who asked himself, “Why not?” and then took the plunge into the bizarre world of comedy at Brown. How could I not expect the interviewer to mention comedy when it had clearly been such a big part of my college career? Four years ago, I came to Brown as an awkward little freshman with a master plan: Keep my head down, concentrate in chemistry or neuroscience or something else that would make me seem smart, take a couple fun writing workshops on the side and eventually go to medical school. But somewhere along the way, I got involved in the comedy community, and the plan was derailed. Auditioning for stand-up led to performing stand-up, which led to writing for the humor magazine the Brown Jug, which led to becoming a Literary Arts concentrator, which led to writing a sitcom. I had fallen down the comedy rabbit hole, and that reserved, anxious kid who just wanted to seem smart was dead. In his place was an unreserved, slightly less anxious man who just wanted to seem funny.

It was a surprisingly easy transition. People seem to think that you need courage to go onstage and try to make people laugh. They’re wrong. You just need to be completely shameless and weird. I don’t know whether Brown’s comedy community made me weird or simply brought out my inner weirdness, but over the past few years, my world changed dramatically. Making people laugh became my primary goal in life, both because I loved doing it and because I loved the other people doing it. The friends I made doing stand-up and writing for the Jug were all incredibly talented, down-to-Earth people with a common goal — making people laugh. With every joke, show and workshop, I felt more and more a part of a dysfunctional comedy family. So when the med school interviewer opened the interview by menacingly asking me to tell him a joke, I thought of them— my second family. I thought of the love and support they’ve shown me over the years. The many hours we spent workshopping jokes and crafting punchlines. The way they encouraged me to take risks onstage. I took a deep breath. And then I told my joke. The interviewer sat there in silence for a moment, then he shook my hand, closed my application folder and said, “You’ll get ’em next time.” It was a disaster. Thanks, Brown. Samer Muallem managed to get in despite the disastrous interview. He will spend the rest of his life trying to avoid being compared to Patch Adams.


Samer Muallem ‘13 makes a fool of himself in front of hundreds of peers.


Stop-Start education

I coach debate at Paul Cuffee High School, and I carpool with Mr. Richards, a retired education consultant and part-time oracle. Mr. Richards is always at the Van Wickle Gates at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in his tidy Prius. As soon as I get in the car, I try to shake the social and academic debris out of my mind. When we arrive at Paul Cuffee after a 15-minute ride, we try to embody the credo from the TV show Friday Night Lights: “Clear eyes, full hearts, debate lesson plan, can’t lose.” I tell Mr. Richards weird things about ancient Greek history, statistics on bunions, the struggles of co-existence in an allmale house and my plans for employment after graduation. I prod my fellow student coaches with questions, and Mr. Richards applies his wry therapy, cheering for a tale about a good email and murmuring approval when we talk about the development of the debate league. Then we ask Mr. Richards about his sons and everything that happened from his 20s to his 60s. He laughs and says things like “opportunities to do good are everywhere!” Traffic often comes to a standstill near the junction of three high schools a mile away from Paul Cuffee. At that point, we focus on the catalysts for our debate lesson. Mr. Richards transforms into an education strategist, gauging the necessary time for activities and highlighting ways to simplify the material. We talk about implementing each stage of the pre-written plan. Students at the high school junction pour over the curb and run through traffic, chatting with each other. We marvel at the miniature, spontaneous debate leagues all over the city, and I think about how the gas station across the road must be home to a lot of unrecorded personal growth for students. After practice, my home is the final drop-off point for the volunteer car pool. By this leg of the trip, we are forecasting grand debate feats to come and wondering how we will develop them. One day, cars were parked unusually tight on each side of my home street. Our conversation fizzled as Mr. Richards pulled off the road to let oncoming traffic pass. “This is a different street every time,” he said, laughing and taking a hand off the wheel. Urgency vanished from the universe for a moment. After so many decades of attending to hotheaded students through the Providence bustle, Mr. Richards still seemed to find supreme pleasure in idling on the side of the road. For the past two years, I have volunteered and then coordinated for the Rhode Island Ur/ / Page 35 ban Debate League. The



Gabe Schwartz ’13, right, visits a rural village to talk to its leaders about health care access. / / Page 34 RIUDL goes to 13 different high schools, teaching policy debate to prepare students for college, employment and a lifetime of engaged citizenship. Debate attracted me when I transferred to Brown because the volunteers loved to be involved, loved to pay attention to the opinions of others, loved risking the approval of others. With this involvement came a still more sacred experience: bouts of confusion. When a debater runs out of arguments, or a group of travelers has to pause indefinitely, one’s sense of purpose turns bare and susceptible to positive change. I hope to carry with me the spirit of focused vulnerability from debate, and from Mr. Richards’ carpool, wherever I go. David Scofield will spend the next year learning the secrets of retail and shoe sales.

Educated and agitated I met Rathna a little over a year ago, four hours by car across the hot, bumpy Indian countryside from the nearest city. I was on study abroad. She was 21. Five years earlier, she had married a wealthy and “generous” man, willing to marry her for who she was, regardless of her impoverished background and inability to pay any dowry. For two years, she had a full life. She bore a child — he was perfect. She had never been so happy. That was before they found out about her hus-

band’s HIV. His slow descent into death. Her being cast out by her mother, and town after town, bent over in hard labor each day in transient work, racing home to feed her son after she was finished. That was before she came home and found him not breathing. It wasn’t until after her suicide attempt, when she was found and brought to the hospital of the nonprofit where I was studying, that someone saw in her more than her diagnosis. The 80-year-old woman who would serve as my translator saw that Rathna received medical treatment from that nonprofit, arranged for her to work on their organic, experimental farm, and transformed that space into a refuge for other HIV-positive women. When I met her, Rathna had become the farm’s director. She wore gold jewelry she had saved up for and bought herself. She laughed often. I have never see anyone so radiant. Rathna and I were born months apart but continents apart in distance, social and literal. Yet here she was, taking my hand, and here I was, finding myself proud not of my grades or my body but of the few things I had accomplished alongside people who had been through so much more than I had. I thought of the families I worked with at Rhode Island Hospital through Health Leads, and I thought of the many women I had met recently whose stories sounded much like Rathna’s. I pledged to myself that this was what I would devote my life to: helping other Rathnas

find their own hope. Fighting to make sure that no one has to go through what she has gone through. I’ve spent my final year at Brown taking the knowledge I’ve gained here and from Rathna, and gaining the hard tools — statistical programming, geospatial analysis, epidemiological modeling — to bring that advocacy to those making policy, to those who decide the shape and import of the lived realities of marginalized communities the world over. I have begun to play a bigger game. I will keep playing it. My radical politics will come with me. What is striking now, looking back over my time at Brown, is how much any skills, perspective, or wherewithal I leave Brown with is the result of my coming here. My friends and classmates at Brown have rewritten my script of what is possible, late at night while arguing in dorm rooms. My professors and courses have revealed ways of seeing the world I had only the faintest idea of. I am no longer who I was. In my head and heart, at least, I am part of something larger. Could I have learned these things elsewhere, ended up in the same place? Maybe. But coming to Brown remains the best decision I’ve ever made. It may always be. For all its faults — its wind tunnels, its prejudices, what it does to keep its place in the world — this is the place that made me. I will miss it. Gabe Schwartz is off to do social and epidemiological research for public policy and social justice. After four years in New England, he is still confused about how there are places without mountains.

Skirting the shark In the midst of senior year my show was in a creative rut. The ratings were plummeting fast and I suspected that my remaining viewers lingered merely to hate-watch, so they could gripe on the message boards about my general passiveness and knack for defeatism. Two pop culture-savvy psychiatrists termed my complex “Truman Show delusion” — subject believes he is the center of a kind of postmodern sitcom. I knew well enough to discern that the subject was likely just a paranoid narcissist. Nevertheless, I continued to feel like a letdown to the greater audience that had endeavored to DVR my show, only to find Mike wallowing in his bed, swapping between homework, Bagel Gourmet take-out and Netflix (all mutually exclusive). Yeah, we’ve got better things to watch. Erase. Like Fonzie water skiing in his leather jacket, I’d officially jumped the shark. Though WaterFire and RISD parties sounded appeal/ / Page 36 ing, I lacked the resolve



VOICES OF 2013 / / Page 35 to venture off the Hill. I’d still never set foot in Boston. Over the past six semesters it had been easy to succumb to a stable routine. So what if the days dragged on every now and then? Inspiration to seize the day never came by way of a Dead Poets Society-fueled epiphany. Instead all it took was an ad in the Providence Phoenix about King Richard’s Faire. New England’s largest renaissance festival offered jousting tournaments, turkey legs and the prospect of mixing with a wench or two. This was unchartered territory. A chance to spend the day in an entirely new world, along with a bunch of awkward teens who brandished foam swords and managed Game of Thrones wikis in their downtime. (In a way, it wasn’t much of a departure from Brown.) And King Richard was only a 50-minute Sunday morning drive away. Wenches or no, I ended up having one of the best experiences of my college career. Afterward, I committed myself to doing a minimum of one random activity every day while I was still a Brown student. I bought a calendar and forced myself to fill each square with something I’d never done before — this would be my alternative bucket list. The feat might be as simple as striking up a conversation with a new friend or discovering a study spot off the beaten path. One month into the experiment my calendar overflowed with four years worth of experiences — first treks to Boston and Federal Hill, the sting of a postSPG hangover, hurling through a tween mosh pit at the Sum 41 concert, reaching the SciLi rooftop (sometimes all you have to do is ask), and the difference in taste between La Laiterie charcuterie and 5 a.m. Loui’s banana-chocolate-pumpkin-whatever pancake. I crashed DUG events, indulged Morning Mail and invented reasons to wear blazers. The only casualty was my Netflix usage. However, for all the excitement the calendar assured, it brought another problem — I was now firmly in the habit of quantifying my experiences from an objective lens. The pressure to fill in the squares, of anticipating what constituted new and fun, strangely kept me from fully partaking in each activity. My “series” was better, no doubt, but it was now more artificial than ever. There was only so long I could keep up the act. Ultimately, though the calendar had to be discarded for my own sanity, it taught me how to pursue opportunities on an impulse. I learned not to see my world in wholesale or as a collection of episodes. Instead, my senior year evolved into a different kind of



Tony Mantegani ’13 and the Men’s Crew team at practice on the Seekonk River.

series — one of spontaneous and unstructured moments, big and small, taken in stride. Mike Makowsky will be working for Marvel Studios next year, where his contract stipulates he is never to look Jeremy Renner in the eye. Regrettably, his water skiing ability is mediocre is best.

Just pull harder While at Brown, the building I became most familiar with had nothing to do with classes, dorm rooms or Blue Room muffins. It’s a place most Brown students have never been, though it’s only a mile from campus on India Point. Originally it was a fish processing plant, but today it’s the Hunter S. Marston Boathouse, home of the men’s and women’s crew teams. Over the past four years, I have spent countless hours working out in the boathouse and rowing on the Seekonk River in pursuit of perfection. The problem, of course, is that perfection is a nearimpossible standard. I have never experienced a single flawless 2000-meter race (lasting roughly six minutes), and I don’t know anyone who has. So why do it? Like many other Brown students, I have sought excellence in the classroom as well. But for me, doing so always emphasized the ends over the means. The focus was on earning a good grade on the first paper, then the midterm, another paper, and the final exam — all for that A. Perfection in rowing is different. It can be found in a single stroke of any practice or race. There are literally hundreds of thousands of chances in a season to be perfect, or not. When I row, I’m not just thinking about winning the next race. I think about the process, about feeling the rhythm of the crew and making the next stroke as perfect

as possible. And then doing it again. Unlike a GPA, rowing is not all about the individual. I won’t get an A on my transcript for rowing, and I have zero hope of pursuing a professional career in the sport. It’s not about getting something for myself; it’s about contributing to something. Brown crew is known in the rowing world for its unique commitment to the concept of a total team. Our coaches often emphasize the importance of “upward pressure” — each boat pushing the one ahead of it in an effort to build speed and success at every level. We are one of the few teams to regularly race all our boats together in practice. It’s competitive and sometimes tense, but by the end of the season it gives everyone a sense of ownership in the team’s success. I have raced with a B on my chest against crews from as far away as Russia and the Netherlands. At the Henley Royal Regatta in England I heard complete strangers, both British and American, cheering madly for Brown as we went down the course. Not for me, nor for any one of my teammates, but for Brown. As rowers, we do not wear our names on the backs of our unisuits. In fact, the mark of the very best crews is the anonymity of the individual oarsmen as they come together in a demonstration of uniformity and precision. No single oarsman can carry the team to victory, and there are no individual statistics when it comes to races. There is only the crew, only Brown. In a generation that is so often lambasted for self-centeredness and an overly developed sense of entitlement, this subordination of self is liberating and rare. It’s a good reminder that it’s not always all about me, and realizing that can have amazing outcomes. Tony Mantegani wants everyone to know that there is more to rowing than sitting down and moving backwards while a small person bellows at you.

VOICES OF 2013 For Bruno and for Brown The football team had just secured a win against Columbia in the last game of the 2012 season. The players and fans celebrated the win that beautiful November afternoon as the Brown Band played “Ever True to Brown” with the spirit and volume that can only come from a victory to end the season. I started with my typically energetic count off, but found that my arms felt heavy in conducting the familiar two-four pattern, and I was unable to sing with the rest of the band through the tears I could no longer hold back. This marked the end of a three-year era of being conductor. Keeping it together was simply not an option. I started my journey as a wide-eyed freshman who responded to the call of “Join the Brown Band” at the activities fair with, “Don’t worry, I pretty much already have.” My dad had been president of the band back in the early 1980s and raved about it with a nostalgic glint in his eyes throughout my childhood. As an alto-sax-playing band geek, I thought it was a good choice of student group. In retrospect, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. At my first rehearsal, I realized that the group was entirely student-run. Undergraduates booked trips, scheduled events, handled finances and, to my amazement, were entirely in charge of the musical direction of the band. By the end of that rehearsal, I had decided I would try out to be conductor. I was chosen as the new assistant conductor and learned from the experienced assistant as well as the head conductor. I made a three-year commitment that would end with me in charge.

Over my time as conductor, my ear became more musically trained as I nitpicked incorrect rhythms and notes in rehearsals and brought songs from the initial sight-read to performance. I memorized the correct cutoff points of nearly 60 songs. I became more confident in my leadership skills and discovered the patience required to get a room full of college students to rehearse that measure just one more time. Most of what the band taught me was the true meaning of spirit. It’s impossible to put into words what it means to work with a group of people so dedicated to their school that they are happy to get up at eight in the morning on a Saturday and spend their time playing, cheering and scrambling on the field until late afternoon. At a school where most non-athletes are only vaguely aware we have varsity sports, it was incredible to lead a group of people whose mood rose and fell with the team’s wins and losses. I was able to connect with the school I love so dearly through music — and what a timeless way to do so! While few students know the words to our fight song, I know that a rousing rendition of “Brown Forevermore” will give me a pang of nostalgia well into old age. Serving as conductor of the Brown Band has been a huge part of my identity here. That’s why on that fine November day, during a time of triumphant glory and celebration, I had to count off our Alma Mater in between sobs. That’s why I’ll be humming the Commencement March as I walk through the Van Winkle Gates. And that’s why, when I think back, my best memories of Brown are from my time with the band. Joanna Lustig will attend Boston University for her master’s in school counseling this fall.

Joanna Lustig ’13, center, marches with the Brown Band.


The institutional activist Most students know me as the president of the Undergraduate Council of Students or, more likely, as that guy who sent them so many emails throughout the year. I never expected to be that guy. In fact, when I first heard of UCS, I was hesitant and skeptical after a lackluster high school student government experience. I was more interested in participating in political activities on campus. During my first-year Activities Fair, I looked around eagerly for organizations that would allow me to have an impact while satisfying my interest in politics. I signed up for Brown Democrats immediately. But something curious happened when I passed the UCS table. The UCS president and vice president took the time to speak to me and convinced me to go to the first UCS meeting. “Student government is so much better in college,” they told me. I went to my first UCS meeting and was unmoved. But I met interesting people at that meeting who would become my good friends. I came for them, week after week, and they encouraged me to stay involved. As I worked with them on projects and began to see what students could do to have an impact on the University, my commitment to UCS solidified. The people make UCS, not the infrastructure. If I was passionate about something, I could make it happen if I put in the work. This reality unfolded when I advocated for Opportunity RI, a program working to provide tax credits for students who stay and work in Rhode Island after graduation. I got UCS, the Brown Democrats and the Brown Republicans to collaborate in support and provide testimony for the program. Through UCS, I found that I could make a substantial difference. The only true limit was my level of commitment and my drive, both of which amplified over the years. In my junior year, I had the incredible experience of co-founding Brown for Financial Aid, which displayed the power of student activism. I also realized the power of institutional knowledge. UCS provided me with the tools to make a compelling case for need-blind financial aid and increased affordability. I realized that I was passionate about improving the student experience overall, and I had gained the knowledge and ability to be an effective advocate. The UCS presidency would put me in a place to realize my goals for Brown and to realize my potential as a change-maker. Over this past year, the UCS presidency has enabled me to be an effective advocate for Divest Coal, service learning and financial aid while overseeing immediate changes — new Morning Mail, anyone? — and learning much about myself. Over 12 months, I learned my limits, exceeded my personal expectations, saw the power of effective / / Page 38 teamwork and found the



VOICES OF 2013 / / Page 37 benefits of trusting council members to pursue their goals to the best of their abilities. Unequivocally, my first-year assumption about the UCS presidency was dead wrong. The presidency does not have to be bureaucratic cog. It truly was what I made of it. This position has provided amazing memories and allowed me the privilege to work with the incredible Brown student body to effect change that will impact generations of Brunonians to come. Anthony White will be teaching elementary school in Las Vegas next year. Running a camel farm was a close second.

Dear Brown This is the letter I should have written to the admission office when I was a wayward 19-year-old transfer applicant — the true one about who I would be, am and was in college. Dear Brown, I will never buy all the books assigned in class. Some I will get from the library, but other times I will spend the money on a book I choose. I’ll read that book instead. When I do buy all the books, I won’t talk about them just in class. The moments I’ll be the best thinker — and, sometimes, believer — will not be in the classroom, so you might think about giving my seat to someone else if that matters to you. I don’t think there’s anything too special about

the New Curriculum, except for maybe the people who are beguiled by it. Even though I’ll brag about it to my friends back home and parry accusations that “everything is pass/fail” — almost none of us will be brave enough for that — it will only ever be the thrill of counting myself among people who fancy themselves intellectually adventurous that I return to. There will never be a week I won’t blow off some obligation of mine. Some days I’ll just be too tired or too hungover. I’ll spend those days finding quiet. I don’t know if you know this, Brown, but college is hard. The most important thing I will learn is how to be okay with being alone. I will find my strength there, I will learn to hold steady in the relentless churn of my mind (which you will stir, Brown). I’ll spend that time gathering up the scraps and baubles that will be me, me out of the mess. I’ll learn what real vulnerability is and nearly perish from it. Despite myself I will wonder if the color of my skin or my sexuality impoverished my education — I hate to say it, Brown, but there are people at your school who have a hard time seeing past both. So I’ll spend grocery money on tattoos, scrawling maps on myself in case I need to find the way back to the body I will sometimes run away from. There will be times when I hate you, Brown. Many times. I will yell at you because I will be sick of dealing with your problems, like I snarl at a friend who won’t help himself, mostly because he denies that he has any problems at all. But most of the time I will daydream about the future. The future that I will crack open with my struggle in attending you, Brown. I will imagine conversations with new friends and old, wondering how the books I did read and the late-night shouting matches with roommates over the meanings of Eastern contemplative practice might surface. I will wonder about what my life would have been like if I had not chosen Brown, whether I would have been admitted into the company of some of the smartest and bravest people I have ever met. For all my piss and vinegar, I have a feeling I’ll remember you fondly, Brown. So please admit me. I promise, I will make the most of it. Raillan Brooks thinks adulthood should have stricter entrance requirements. He plans to finance his bad TV habit as a maybe ok writer.

My service, myself


Raillan Brooks ’13 laughing and crying because this was taken at a vegan polenta dinner party.


When I was five years old, my mother took me to see a primary care physician who understood that families need basic resources like food and shelter to be healthy. He found out during that first session that we were uninsured and living on a family friend’s pull-out couch. Though he only had one other employee at his practice and

a long list of patients to see, my doctor did what he could to address our basic needs. He ripped up the check my mother gave him to pay for the exam, and, when my acceptance to Brown was accompanied by a financial aid offer that didn’t cover enough costs, my doctor connected me to a scholarship opportunity that has made these past four years possible. When I first arrived on campus, I had a strong desire to repay my doctor’s generosity by doing service or volunteer work myself. I found my outlet when I attended a Health Leads Providence informational session at the end of my first year. When I heard about Health Leads’ model of connecting patients to basic resources, and its approach to working with families based on respect, I had an ”aha” moment. I understood that the incredible, wrap-around care I had received from my doctor was an exception to the rule. I understood that all families need and deserve this comprehensive form of health care, and I understood what I could do as an undergrad to make my good fortune a reality for other families. In helping Providence families access basic resources, I discovered how I could be most effective. I once met a disabled mother whose utilities had been shut off for reasons she couldn’t understand because she couldn’t speak English. I called her service provider and we were relieved to learn that her utilities had been cut off accidentally. The man on the phone told me that he would be happy to send someone to restore her services — in three days. This is where my Health Leads training came in handy. Relying on my powers of persuasion, I told him that if the company hadn’t made a thoughtless error, her utilities wouldn’t be off at all. I told him that my client relies on a cane to get around, and that I would hate for there to be any liability issues if she fell. My client’s services were restored by 6 p.m. that day. If we open our eyes and extend our hands across sectors, across generations, across neighborhoods, we can find every resource and skill needed to fix the most pressing challenges that Rhode Islanders are facing. We can take advantage of human resources like an undergrad who just won’t take no for an answer and really wants to do good work for this community. Or we can take advantage of resources like the dedication of a devoted mother, who will go to four clothing banks in order to secure a winter coat for her children. Health Leads helped me find my place at Brown. When I got here as a freshman, I was filled with insecurities and doubts. I kept asking, “Why me? Why do I deserve all this? How did my life change so much and so quickly?” But in transforming my personal experiences into action, those questions have changed. I now ask, “Why / / Page 39 not me?” and “How can I

VOICES OF 2013 turn my privilege into opportunities for others?” My doctor’s service is what led me to Brown. My service is what will lead me forward as I graduate from Brown, step by step through the Van Wickle Gates. Zoe Chaves is graduating with an AB in Architectural Studies and will be staying in Providence for the next two years through a fellowship with Venture for America. / / Page 38

Sleepless in Strasberg I am proud to say that I have pulled all-nighters during college. More than one. In fact, I’m probably approaching triple digits. But unlike the traditional SciLi or Rock late-night study sessions, my all-nighters have been spent in the theater. Instead of combing through stacks at the library at 3 a.m., I was on a 20-foot ladder hanging lights on the grid, I was on my hands and knees painting the underside of a set, I was trying to decipher the hilariously outdated technical equipment in the booth of the Strasberg Studio. Anyone intimately involved in theater at Brown understands that shows often take precedence over schoolwork. And if there is one thing I’ve learned from doing theater, it’s that the old adage “The show must go on” is actually followed by “at the expense of everything else in your life.” Now, I’m sure my mother would be disappointed to hear that I spent so much time (blood, sweat, tears, etc.) on something that gave me no course credit, no letters of recommendation and no experience in anything I plan to pursue after college. But I can honestly say that I have learned more from being holed up in a theater from the hours of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. than I have from most of my classes. I say this not to disparage learning at Brown, but rather to praise it. I came to Brown because I wanted to immerse myself in whichever topics or questions interested me most. And that’s exactly what I’ve done. Brown is often lauded for its open curriculum and the freedom that it gives students to direct their own educational pursuits. But for me, the New Curriculum is more than just the ability to take whichever class I want. It’s the freedom to dedicate myself to whatever learning opportunity — be it academic or otherwise — that I find compelling. When it’s 7 a.m. and I’m walking out of a dark theater, I feel a thousand different things: exhausted, irritable, nauseous. But most importantly, I feel proud. I’ve realized that my willingness to stay up all night directly correlates to how much I love what I’m doing. That’s why

I’m confident that my coffee- and Red Bullfueled college all-nighters will not be my last. Yet somehow I can’t imagine anything being as beautiful or gratifying as watching the sun rise over Brown’s campus, or anything as deliciously satisfying as 5 a.m. pancakes from Loui’s. Brette Ragland will be catching up on sleep for most of the summer before teaching in Bangladesh for a year.

Beak of the lab rat “There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. Even drought bears fruit. Even death is a seed.” That’s Jonathan Weiner. The Beak of the Finch. The book — that quote — mostly turned out to be about progress. Standing on the shoulders of giants. Opportunity. Serendipity. Probably a touch of idealism. I “did research” at Brown. I researched out of love and sometimes obligation and sometimes

“I’m leaving Brown feeling okay about that idealism.” necessity. I inched my way onto those opportunistic shoulders of giants. A few weeks back, I asked my postdoc why he was in research. “You can ask whatever questions you want,” he offered. “And they’ll pay you.” They’ll pay you if you make the proper discoveries. Some say the greatest scientists are the luckiest. The number of serendipitous discoveries that changed the course of science is enough to warrant whole books written on the matter of serendipitous discovery — which doesn’t really do much for the aspiring scientist who is told that discipline is the name of the game. I’ve been prodigiously lucky in a number of ways during my time at Brown. Profound scientific discovery has not been one of them. But Brown has been forgiving of my inability to say anything terribly enlightening with science. Rather, it has rewarded the effort. Those granting tenure, unfortunately, tend to be less forgiving. In entering the academic research jet stream, we hear the horror stories. There’s a plethora of PhDs and a paucity of prospects. No matter how many statistical techniques you’ve got under your belt, how many internships you’ve held, how well you can construct alliterations, the average age of receiving your first R01 grant is growing steadily, and right now it’s around 42. And unless something is done about it, sequestration is going to wring the insides from the worn-out ketchup packet that is

the National Institutes of Health. I’m all set for grad school. Graduation is still terrifying. There’s plenty of room at the bottom. The aforementioned postdoc recently apologized to me for the lack of substantial results unearthed over the last two years of my thesis research. I raised an eyebrow and made it expressly clear why I didn’t understand his apology. Because of my thesis, I could program in three languages. I could run electrophysiology experiments and pump out multitaper coherograms like it was my job. (It was my job.) I gushed on, and as romanticism tumbled out of my mouth, I realized I had stumbled upon my serendipity. It was cheesy and conceited and kind of a stretch, but it was serendipity. It was self-discovery. “I fully expect serendipity. I expect to be shaped and molded; pushed and pulled; bended and twisted.” That’s idealistic Clay, in his first-year response to Weiner’s text. Aside from the liberal use of semicolons, I only see one flaw. By definition, we can’t expect serendipity. That’s less self-evident than it sounds. I mean to say that we can’t go looking for it. As we go through university, we’re changing — certainly, we can assume that’s the case, but we’re rarely tracking the minutiae. And then all of sudden we realize we changed and that college worked and that serendipity was there just when we didn’t expect it like it was supposed to be and that maybe there was something about those finch beaks after all. There is a special Providence in the fall. The trees might not be blossoming, but the leaves are turning, and that Brown, giddy idealism makes College Hill pulsate. I’m leaving Brown feeling okay about that idealism. Research is having the privilege to ask questions. It might be the most idealistic job out there. Clayton Aldern, like most of us, lives off Hope. On Tuesdays he can be reached at Captain Seaweed’s, considering the lobster raffle.

Proud to be a recruit When I went out on the first night freshman year, I told many students I was going to be on the varsity fencing team. “Were you recruited?” they asked. I nodded. I had been recruited for the women’s epee squad. This response produced two reactions. Fellow student-athletes thought recruitment meant I was legit, and non-athletes thought it meant I was stupid. For the first time in my life, people assumed I was dumber than them solely because I played a sport. I was one of 225 students who got into Brown “because of athletic ability,” so naturally I / / Page 40 had to be a worse student.



VOICES OF 2013 / / Page 39 Why else would Brown save a valuable recruiting spot for me? I struggled with this “dumb athlete” stereotype through freshman and sophomore year until a rude awakening left me in tears at 9 a.m. on April 21, 2011. My fencing coach woke me with the news that a committee would recommend that the University cut the wrestling, skiing and men and women’s fencing teams. The following week was one of the most challenging, frustrating, eye-opening and inspirational of my four years at Brown. And that week also solidified my dual identity as a student-athlete. The other two newly-elected captains and I were thrown into a frenzy of meetings. We sent hundreds of emails, met with top administrators and developed a cohesive defense to present to the committee. We compiled a list of our concentrations, our calculated GPAs and our volunteer efforts to show we were dedicated students. At the time, we had an average 3.7 GPA — the highest of all varsity teams at Brown. Our concentrations ranged from neuroscience to computer science to archaeology. My team and I deserved to be here. Never before had our role as students been presented so clearly. At one public discussion meeting, other athletes showed up in support of the teams in jeopardy. I didn’t have many student-athlete friends outside of my team, yet we now stood together — the wrestlers, skiers and fencers with supporters from teams that faced little risk. After the announcement, student-athletes I barely knew would stop me to say, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through. Let me know what I can do to help.” I was seeing the student-athlete community up close for the first time, and they were so supportive. Never before had I understood the place of the fencing team within the larger athlete community. It’s hard to escape a stereotype assigned to you when you step onto campus. Combined with my own personal self-doubt, and without seeing direct proof against the “dumb-jock” stereotype, I didn’t know what to think. Thanks to that week of crisis my sophomore spring, I fully integrated into the student-athlete community and saw our dedication all over campus. I love both fencing and my concentration in Business, Entrepreneurship and Organizations. My team and the other student-athletes helped me learn to be proud of who I am. I now embrace my recruited status. I, like others, had been recruited to be a student-athlete: both a student and an athlete. Cory Abbe is traveling the world this summer and will be working as a project engineer in construction in San Francisco next year.


Other Michael Stewart Weeks before I drove up to Providence for freshman orientation, I decided that I was going to change my name. For the past six years, I had gone by Stewie, an abbreviation of my last name that middle school “friends” had bestowed upon me. The summer before freshman year, I decided I would change some aspects of myself before I got to Brown. College was going to be one giant first impression, and I wanted to do it right; going by my first name seemed like an easy way to establish a new persona. Stewie was definitely too childish for a Brown student. Yes, Michael had less “personality,” but it seemed more mature, even intellectual. Michael might write an honors thesis, while Stewie seemed more likely to doodle in class. Also, I couldn’t just introduce myself to professors as Stewie, right? Sadly, my plans did not materialize. During the first few days, I kept mixing up my introductions: “Hi, I’m Stewie … wait. No. Michael!” I kept reverting to Stewie, as if the name fought against its own demise. I gave up on Michael after that first week. Stewie, and all that I thought it implied, had followed me to Brown. A few weeks later during my first shopping period, I learned that there are multiple Michael Stewarts at Brown. After receiving dozens of polite but urgent emails asking about ENGL 0180: “Introduction to Creative Nonfiction,” I realized that one of them was a faculty member in the English department. Each semester, eager students emailed me requests, questions and assignments for the class taught by Other Michael Stewart. Once, the head of the English department even sent an email informing me of my promotion to the position of lecturer. I was flattered, but knew I probably couldn’t be both a student and faculty member. This cycle repeated each semester and eventually came to signal the start of each new term; a few misplaced emails in late August or January got me excited about heading back to Brown. Even when I studied abroad in Scotland, those emails from misguided students reminded me of the school and community I had temporarily left behind. These messages came to highlight more than just the commonality of my name — they demarcated time and provided me with a lesson in how to find meaning in otherwise random, frustrating occurrences. This past semester, I finally enrolled in Other Michael Stewart’s class. Sneaking in late to the first meeting, I heard him warn the class about making sure to email the correct person. Apparently, there is a student named Michael Stewart who gets some of his emails. Looking back at the past four years, I cannot begin to list all the ways this place has changed

me. It has been a sometimes turbulent but always interesting experience. It has made me into a more thoughtful person, even if I still encounter the occasional awkward moment. “Stewie, what’s your last name?” “Wait, your name is Stewie Stewart?!” But I have learned to embrace these moments. They have shaped who I’ve become. Email mixups, late-night library realizations, a great class, that Spring Weekend story, a relationship or a job can all influence how we view our time here. My name was tied to how I experienced Brown. At first, I thought that it would greatly affect my time at Brown. It did, but not in the way I expected. The unintended side effects of life, revealed through these anecdotes, are what really changed me. These stories, and the meaning we find in each, are what define us. They allow us to continue learning after we move beyond College Hill and will continue to reveal how this place changed us, regardless of any plans we made freshman year. Michael Stewart ’13 will enroll in Brown’s Master of Arts in Teaching Program and is excited that his future students may call him Mr. Stewart.

Rite of passage

I didn’t come to Brown to study or practice religion. While I had grown up in a Jewish home and complained my way through 12 years of Hebrew school, my parents placed more value on secular aspects of family life than on strict religious tradition. We went to Rosh Hashanah services every year, but we would leave early to go apple picking. My two sisters and I read Torah on our Bat Mitzvahs, but we didn’t speak Hebrew. When I applied to college, I expected to stick with my family’s more cultural and modernized version of Judaism. Instead of religion, I sought an environment where I could grow, challenge myself and find mentors and peers who could push me forward. Little did I know, though, I would find the atmosphere I sought at Brown/RISD Hillel. I started getting involved at Hillel early in my first year, after I accompanied a friend to a Shabbat service that was more meaningful than anything I had experienced before. I was hooked, and I was also very curious about the community I had stumbled upon. Despite Brown’s pesky reputation for being some bastion of liberal godlessness, there are a number of students here who make religion a part of their daily lives without compromising their larger college experience, something I never expected to find. In the past, I had often thought of traditional religion and independent thinking as mutually exclusive; it was invigorating to see that at Brown, people could do it all. Hillel soon became / / Page 42

VOICES OF 2013 / / Page 40 one of my rocks and social centers in college. That’s where I sought support and stability when a peer was killed in a car accident, when I had to watch a friend work through a taxing student disciplinary process and where most of my identity-defining moments happened. It’s also where many of my friends spent their time, and where I could always find a free cup of tea and quiet place to study. It was a safe space, and it made me feel protected and grounded enough that I could more comfortably branch out in my other — decidedly non-religious — activities across campus. Over time, my roles at Hillel became more formal than just showing up for Shabbat. I led services fairly regularly, took a spot on the student executive board and helped expand the type of discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict happening within our community. Though most aspects of my personal practice never changed too much — I have yet to walk inside the kosher food room in the Ratty — I spent a lot of time learning about rules and traditions that other Jews choose to make a part of their lives. Partly for that reason, I decided to formalize my commitment to Judaism through a conversion ceremony my sophomore year. Because my mother was not Jewish when I was born, my status was questionable for some Conservative and Orthodox rabbis. To be clear, no one at Hillel ever doubted my place in the community or made me feel anything less than welcome before my conversion; they just gave me tools and knowledge that helped me want to cement my position within a larger Jewish community beyond the Van Wickle Gates. I don’t know exactly what role faith will play in the rest of my life, but I’m grateful that my religious literacy and understanding increased at Brown. I feel like I now have an extra tool I can use to explore the world, form supportive communities and hopefully live with as much usefulness as I can muster. Sarah Forman will be studying Nuclear Energy at Cambridge University next year, and she’s looking forward to singing Kabbalat Shabbat tunes with a British accent.

Last semester travels Whack! I wake up groggily as my head bounces off the window of our Jeep, and we drive over a hole in the road. I would use the word “pothole,” but that would imply the road we’re driving on is paved. I look down to check my watch, and it’s almost 6 a.m. Nepal time, which means it’s 8 p.m. in Providence. I can picture my friends working in the SciLi basement, or perhaps more realistically, taking a study break at home since it’s the Wednesday of



Pierre Ivan Arreola ’13 at a session of FRESH! Food for Thought at Prospect Heights.

Spring Week on campus. Meanwhile in Acham, Nepal, the physician I’m traveling with and I are part of a four-car ambulance caravan transporting eight critically ill patients to a referral hospital 12 hours away in Nepalgunj, Nepal. Six patients were injured the night before in a jeep accident, one was injured in a fall, and one has a pericardial effusion that has filled his chest with fluid. With 10,000 miles between Nepalgunj and Providence, I couldn’t be farther from my friends, my home of four years, my teammates, my campus. Yet, I wouldn’t be sitting in this Jeep without my experience at Brown. Rewind nine months. I’m surfing on Banner in a class I’m shopping, playing with my course schedule, trying to figure out how my remaining five courses, only one of which is required, will play out over the next year. Screw it, I think, I’m taking one class senior spring, and it’s gonna be VISA 0100: “Studio Foundation.” I type in my four courses for the fall and register. Simultaneously, I’m watching a YouTube video of Medicines Sans Frontiers physician James Orbinski’s Nobel Peace Prize speech. It’s probably the 30th time I’ve watched or read it ­— the first time in high school — and I’m as compelled as ever. Orbinski shares a phrase, “Ummera-sha,” which roughly translates to “courage, friend.” This is what I should be doing my senior spring, I think to myself. I start Googling in a frenzy, come across and click it. Nyaya Health is a Boston-based non-governmental organization that works to deliver health care to the rural, impoverished poor in Far Western Nepal. When I first visited their blog, I read for two-and-a-half hours. I was compelled by their messages of social justice and commitment to realizing the right to health care in a post-revolution

setting. I had to know more. I found out that their executive director was speaking at a conference in Boston on global health, and a friend and I traveled up to Boston to listen. I came back fired up for action. In the following weeks, I contacted professors at Brown and leadership at Nyaya to see if I might be able to both work for Nyaya and use an internship as an Academic Internship course credit at Brown in the spring. What Brown gave me was ummera, courage — the courage to leave a place that I love with every fiber of my being for a place I had only read about. Courage to step into an organization whose impact is greater than the sum of its parts. Courage to throw myself into something wholeheartedly without turning back, knowing it might be a huge mistake — I might hate it or, worse, I might find myself apathetic. As I write this now, back in the States, and 10,000 miles from Accham, I know that this courage will be as much of a necessity in my coming years as any tangible skill I’ve acquired over the past four years. It wasn’t until I stepped away from Brown that I was able to truly recognize this gift. Caroline King is headed to the University of Pennsylvania this summer in spite of her allegiance to both Pittsburgh sports teams and the Brown Bears. She hopes to begin medical school in 2014.

Querer, es poder Growing up in Pacoima, Calif., a poverty-stricken neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley riddled with drugs and gang violence, I came to Brown on a mission to uplift my community back home. My close friends and I had made a pact to devote our / / Page 43 lives to this mission after

VOICES OF 2013 / / Page 42 we saw the benefits of our wrestling team’s victories — we had transformed an underfunded, overcrowded, low-achieving school into a beacon of hope for the neighborhood. Channeling our unique talents, creative genius and love for the San Fernando Valley, my friends and I came together as the GR818ERS (pronounced “great-one-eighters”), a family of artist-activists working to uplift underserved communities in the Greater Los Angeles area by promoting the founding principles of hip-hop culture — peace, love, unity, fun. As the first student from Pacoima to attend Brown I was given the special opportunity, and great responsibility, to represent my community. Though I found myself somewhat out of place academically, socially and culturally on College Hill, my trips back home rejuvenated my ambition. Over the summer of 2010, my friend Sal asked me, “Why you leavin’ us again, P?” as we sat around the dining table discussing the details of our first event, “A Family Affair.” Though I felt every GR818ER expected a profound response, I said, “I don’t know, man. Let’s keep planning this jam,” dodging the question to conceal my fear of returning to school. A few weeks later at the jam, Sal repeated the question. But this time I took a second to answer. I looked around and saw GR818ERS working diligently to prepare the watermelon-eating contest, parents reminiscing about the times they spent running the streets. In the corner of my eye, I spotted a young Pacoima native, no older than five years-old, grooving to some old-school funk, living in the moment and loving every second of it. I looked back to Sal, cracked a smile and responded, “I do it for the kids.” I have witnessed firsthand the ways that hiphop has transformed the lives of underserved youth, including my own. Through partnerships with Brown and community organizations across Rhode Island and Los Angeles, the movement my friends and I started right out of high school has grown to reach over 30 communities from coast to coast. I now manage two hip-hop crews, the GR818ERS in California and Project 401 in Rhode Island, through Hip Hop 4, a nonprofit organization I co-founded. I coordinate youth programs and community events year-round that fuse culture, creativity, and service through the elements of hip-hop culture (dance, DJing, MCing, graffiti art, knowledge). Over the past four years, I heard my grandmother’s words in my head, “Querer es poder,” urging me on. Her constant reminder of the power of diligence and determination gave me the strength to continue on in my journey. Now as I leave College Hill, my grandmother’s words couldn’t be any truer. The movement

continues to evolve and take on new forms. As I further explore other communities and disciplines I feel comfort in the knowledge that I cannot fail. My family, my community, the movement and Brown have shown me that investments in people are more important than projects or partnerships, and I know that where there is a will, there is way. Pierre Ivan Arreola will move back to the Los Angeles to continue spreading positivity and empowering communities through the power of hip-hop.

Engineer-anthropologist One of the benefits of my decision to double concentrate in engineering and anthropology is the ease with which this choice flows into conversation. Over the last two years, I’ve noticed that no one asks me how or why I came up with such a quirky combination because it is assumed, inaccurately, that I must have put a lot of thought into it. Instead, I am often asked to explain what an engineer with an anthropology degree or an anthropologist with an engineering degree could do after graduation. I answer that they could become an analyst in the finance industry, but this response fails to encompass the diverse benefits of concentrating in two distinctively different fields. To come to a nearly satisfactory answer, I spent the last year of my Brown career looking for experiences and people at the nexus of engineering and anthropology both within my curriculum and in Providence. My exploration began on a somewhat dramatic note at the Trinity Repertory Company theater downtown during the eighth Business Innovation Factory last September. There, I spent two days engaging in conversations with some of the world’s most innovative and successful designers from companies such as Zappos, Intel and IDEO. Though all of these companies leveraged different engineering fields and served different clients, ethnography was a common theme in the stories of their success. Ethnography is anthropologyspeak for qualitative research geared towards understanding human culture in different social

contexts. The Business Innovation Factory made me realize that I had to take a class on ethnography and another on engineering design to experience engineering in a humanistic way. By sheer serendipity, the anthropology department was offering a class on ethnographic methods, and my engineering professor decided to co-teach his class with a Rhode Island School of Design industrial design professor. Last semester, I learned that a table is more than four legs and a surface, as my team and I interviewed more than 30 people about their experiences with hotel room tables. Our research translated into structural analysis that aligned aesthetics produced by the table’s material properties with static calculations that recognized the innovative ways that a 150-pound person could use a hotel table. By the end of that project, I had successfully experienced my first attempt at usercentered design and discovered that this was the calling of engineer-anthropologists: the answer that I had been searching for. Like anthropologist-engineers, user-centered design is limitless in its applications and valuable in unleashing the transformative power of innovators, since it involves practicing empathy to uncover the needs of societies and then creating products or services to meet them. The beauty of this principle lies in its applicability. For example, last month my Group Independent Study Project team launched a $50 million impact investing fund alongside Social Venture Partners Rhode Island after researching and aligning the needs of New England’s communities and investors. And I applied those same principles to develop puppetry therapy, which involves using puppets to mediate conflicts, with my RISD DESINE-lab team. Double concentrating in engineering and anthropology has taught me the obvious: Humans are at the center of every design and understanding cultures will serve you well no matter what you decide to make. Gladys Ndagire is forever grateful to Deb MillsScofield ’82 for helping her get why engineers should be anthropologists.


Gladys Ndagire ’13 joins fellow Impact Investing GISP students in class discussion.



SENIOR SURVEY In your time here, how satisfied were you with ______? Extremely


Describe Brown’s culture in a few words.

Not at all

Not very

Housing Meal Plan Teaching Advising Providence Campus Safety Tuition Libraries Banner UCS Banner 0%






Have you ever? How many classes did you choose to take Satisfactory/No Credit, not including classes that were mandatory S/NC? 24% 25

Percent of students





36% have attended Sex Power God 30% have attended a naked party





82% have attended a Brown football game 15% have had sex in a Brown library

5 0

69% have had breakfast at Louis at 5 a.m.

7% have hooked up with their teaching assistant





If Brown calculated class rank based on GPA,where do you think you would fall in the graduating class? Top third: 52% Middle third: 42% Bottom third: 6%



5+ 62% have gone to Fish Co. or Whish Co. 21% have completed the SciLi Challenge 52% have had a one-night stand

The Herald’s highly unscientific survey was conducted online from April 22 to May 3. 488 seniors completed the survey.

SENIOR SURVEY How many sexual partners have you had during college?

Percent of students

20 15 10 5 0

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 20+ Number of partners

What are your plans after graduation?

Do you feel $200,000 smarter than you were four years ago? Yes: 45% No: 55% If you could do it all over again... Would you still choose Brown? Yes: 93% No: 7% Would you still choose your concentration? Yes: 71% No: 29%

How many classes did you take S/NC (not including mandatory S/NC classes)? 0: 17% 1: 18% 2: 16% 3: 16% 4: 24% 5: 9%

Another job 12%

Other 3% I don’t know 22%

Nonprofit employment 9% Government employment 2%

Grad school 28%

Corporate employment 23%

10% of students think they’re selling out. 21% of those pursuing corporate employment think so. What is your favorite memory at Brown?

Sleeping over at the Rock on a Friday night, just cuz • Every minute spent basking in the sun on the Main Green with friends (with or without champagne) • Rolling face at A-Trak • friends • freshman year Perkins shenanigans, senior year GCB during snowstorm • Wine picnic on the roof of Metcalf • orgo (just kidding) • Being a dance-floor make-out (DFMO) queen freshman year • Laying out on Lincoln field at 3 AM watching a meteor shower with my closest friends • The nights I don’t remember • Too many...but most involve guitars, tipsy baking, nerd talk and baking • Meandering late night discussions with friends • Senior Spring Weekend... • GCB! • How can I choose one???? My first Binder, freshman year • Late nights in Lincoln field, hipster house parties and music performances • Go Brown State • The first time I sat on the Main Green with future friends. Somebody said: “Wow, this is college!” • A giant snowball fight on the Main Green after the Blizzard with a friend who’s never played in snow • dave binder every year • Meeting new people who are so incredibly weird that it makes them more amazing • wine-soaked final seminars • Naked parties! • eating mozzarella sticks after a good GCB night • Introduction to the Theory of Literature • The night we swore never to speak of again • Occupying Ruth’s office with vacuum cleaners to demand that Brown “clean up its act” • Being in love for the first time and seeing every corner of the campus as new and exciting • Impossible — the entire thing has been incredible (can’t separate the blissful from the challenging) • all my people • Beating Harvard under the lights in Brown’s first night football game • Frisbee Spring Break! • Snoop Dogg Spring Weekend • watching a high school student’s (who was in a program I worked with) valedictorian speech • Leading Hillel’s Reform Minyan • traipsing through the snow from keeney at 1 am to get east side pockets with my best friend • Activities Fair in freshmen year • paint party in the tunnels below keeney • The friendships I began freshman year and was able to watch grow • spicy with • All the conversations with people that have shaped who I am. And the arrival of spring each year! • Happy to say there are too many to choose from • All of it • setting a cake on fire with everclear, and awesome late night discussions • all nighters in the CIT eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and writing code that didn’t work • meeting my fiance while stdying abroad in argentina • Driving up the California coast at Nationals with Brown Taekwondo • Wild fishco nights freshman year are great memories! And my time in femsex • Mudsliding on Wriston one night freshman year with my friends





Number of spicies with consumed by the class of 2013: 192,000 Number of slices of Gate pizza consumed by the class of 2013: 297,300 Number of Blue Room muffins consumed by the class of 2013: 124,000 Number of Ratty omelets consumed by the class of 2013: 99,960 Class of 2013 admission rate: 11% Class of 2017 admission rate: 9.2% Number of visits to Health Services this year by the class of 2013: 4,707 Number of EMS transports this year for the class of 2013: 96 Number of food trucks on campus in September 2009: 1 Now: 18 All-time Herald vs. College Hill Independent kickball series record: 11-3, Herald


Percent of students who support same-sex marriage in Rhode Island: 91.1% Annual tuition in 2009-2010: $38,048 in 2012-2013: $42,808 Dow Jones Industrial Average at matriculation: 9,441 At time of publication: 15,105.12 Winner of orientation Unit Wars in 2008: Unit 2

What are your words of wisdom for future classes? At some point, kiss someone in the attic of Alumnae Hall • You don’t have to do all the readings for class. I promise • Say yes! • Don’t be afraid to ask/fight for the things you want. Someone will listen • If a class sucks during shopping period, IT’S NEVER GETTING BETTER • Read as much as possible. Also, the BCA ticket site will never work • Internships are mad important •Take more art classes • If things suck, someday they won’t. If things don’t suck, someday they will • Trust yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes • For every professor’s office hours that you go to, go to the GCB ten times more • You’re so much younger than you think you are • You know so much less about yourself than you will • You might think you want to be cool, but you don’t really • Find a good mentor • Don’t be afraid to fail • Ask tough questions • Take FemSex • Don’t make too many plans • Venture off the hill • Make friends who aren’t exactly like you • Build relationships with professors • Get humble • Double-concentrate; get involved with an identity community; examine your privilege! • Put yourself out there, be vulnerable • Enjoy it while you can. Be brave. You’re special • Haters gonna hate, do your thing! • Don’t do things just because you think you “should” • Push yourself to excel • You’re in for some of the best years of your life • Do things with intention • Escape the library and enjoy college, damn it • Try a computer science class! • Don’t forget to sleep! • Invest in people • Be passionate and love every second • You are not busier than anyone else • Get over yourself, relax, enjoy your friends, and stop stressin’ • Take time off if you’re considering it at all • Love, but don’t fall in love • Explore! • Be yourself or at least, spend the time to find out who you are • Bite into it • Don’t feel like you have to change who you are • Say no to things you don’t actually want to do • If you’re not happy with your friends, find new ones • Explore! • Ask people out on dates • YOLO • Be nice to other people



THANK YOU to our supporters Dan Alexander Pam Katz and Florian Ballhaus Jonathan Ellis Leyna Jackson Ben Leubsdorf Mike Mancuso John and Lisa Peracchio Tonya Riley Ben Schreckinger Adam Toobin Special thanks to 305 Fitness’ Danielle Marshak and Siena DeLisser.

In Providence The white church spire drips into magnolias which grow warm and begin to flap their petals. When they have generated enough lift they pull from the branches and make their way out over the elms shading people in folding chairs. Contrary to common belief, they do not fly in a flock — but wing in small clusters to the steam stacks across the river, or alight in the tattoo parlors and fishermen’s bar on Ives Street. A few fly straight up, until they disappear. I saw you watching them with your mouth open. Two landed on a pastel windowsill, behind which four young people stood around an old stove. On the stove there was a pot and in it the people were cooking magnolias. The flowers on the windowsill saw this, and thought it was beautiful. They tapped on the glass with their tender petals and a woman came to the window and said thank you, but I’m full. Not knowing where to go, they leapt from the wooden ledge and drifted on high-altitude air currents nearly a quarter of the distance across the ocean, before they became tired and began to search for a place to rest. Luckily, there was a man attempting to break a record by completing the fastest solo row across the Atlantic. They landed on each wrist.

— Jack DeTar ’13

Commencement Magazine 2013  

The Brown Daily Herald's 2013 commencement magazine.

Commencement Magazine 2013  

The Brown Daily Herald's 2013 commencement magazine.