Monday, December 26, 2011

Irene Rojas-Carroll

Congratulations to you all for earning the Golden Bell Award! You are

doing great work. Thank you for introducing me to Brown through the

Women & Leadership course (summer 2010); it’s amazing to me that I’ve

just finished my first semester here. I apologize for the length of my

email (I got excited!). For those of you pressed for time, I’ve

starred the most important paragraphs.

Even though I’m excited to see friends and family this winter break, I

also can’t wait to get back to Providence. I feel at home there, as

much as one can feel at home in their first semester of college,

especially because of activities like music and a pre-orientation

program that gave me a core group of people to get to know. I had

times when I was homesick or stressed because of bad planning, but

overall, it’s been great. Brown students are serious about their

studies but not so intense that they don't find time to chill and do

things just for fun, which I like. Having so many smart and passionate

people in one place means lots of friendship and organizing potential.

I also like being in Rhode Island as an activist because I think

making change is more doable due to the smallness of the state (it's

actually possible to make a personal appointment with a legislator,

etc., things that would be a lot more difficult in a large state like

California). Being in Providence (the capital of RI) means that we can

actually walk to the State House and deliver petitions or legislative

report cards (which one of the Queer Alliance subgroups is working


Among the groups I’m involved in are the Queer Alliance (QA) and

several of its subgroups, BOMBS (Brown Organization for Multiracial

and Biracial Students), Yarmulkazi (klezmer band), and the Brown Band.

I’ve been able to jump right in and challenge myself with new

activities and leadership. My role as BOMBS Advocacy Chair is new to

me because I haven’t done a lot of activist work focused on race; as

Advocacy Chair and Community Committee leader for the QA I need to

have confidence in my facilitation abilities and take into account

many diverse opinions; I’m trying to get a figure skating club

officially approved, which requires patient negotiation with Athletics

and the club approval system; and, even with klezmer, I’m

experimenting with new styles of playing music. I’ve had dinner with

Mara Keisling (the director of the National Center for Transgender

Equality) and I’ve led a workshop with around 50 students in

attendance. When I finished that workshop, I felt like I had really

arrived at Brown: I could be a leader among leaders and hold my own

with all these brilliant and articulate people. It was immensely


**Some other ILC alumni have advised you all not to join too many

clubs – I say it can be done, as long as you’re disciplined and know

your priorities. I made sure I always had enough time to do the

academic work I needed to do: for example, I skipped going to football

games with the band if I hadn’t finished most of my reading for the

week. As the semester progressed, I dropped some of my activities

(like breakdancing and Zumba, which I was trying for a while) because

I realized that it would take me longer to read articles and write

papers than I originally thought.

**Although I’ve mostly felt prepared for the academic side of life at

Brown, I do feel like my writing and discussion skills could be much

stronger to keep up with this level of work. They’ve improved a lot

already, but next semester I want to take even better advantage of the

support available to me through Writing Center tutors and

class-specific Writing Fellows. My RCs, my advisor (linked with my

potential concentration and my pre-orientation program), and my peer

advisor (Meiklejohn) have been awesome. I think I was secretly

yearning for the plenty-of-support-if-you-ever-need-it idea, coming

from a system where that was harder to seek out.

**I especially enjoyed having the freedom to choose my own classes

(Punishment and Inequality in America [econ dept.], Brown vs. Board of

Education, Tales of Vampirism and the Uncanny, a Latin American lit

course in Spanish, and chamber music) and especially enjoyed BvBoE; it

was a first-year seminar with 10 other students and the perfect

introduction to my tentative concentration of Education History/Policy

(I might also double-concentrate with Gender and Sexuality Studies,

Urban Studies, or PoliSci). Just recently, the professor offered me a

summer research position on urban/suburban school inequalities that

I’ll probably take because it’s a wonderful opportunity and a subject

that I’m passionate about. In fact, one of the most important things

I’ve learned this semester is to plan in a more long-term way and take

advantage of tangible opportunities and resources to make those plans


Looking ahead, I’ll be returning to Providence a week early for a

peer-led winter break project with the community service center where

my optional pre-orientation program was also based. My group will be

learning about youth-driven Providence education reform initiatives.

Next semester’s classes aren’t totally cemented but as of now I’m

taking HIV/AIDS: Politics and Culture, Intro to Gender and Sexuality

Studies, Intro to Political Thought, a 21st century Latin American lit

class, and a class on Asian American urban spaces. I’m trying to

switch 2 of them to 1) Campaigns and Elections which is only offered

every 4 years with the election cycle and 2) The History of American

School Reform, which is one of the best classes in the education

department. I didn’t take a work-study job this past semester partly

because I didn’t want to overwhelm myself, and now that I’m more

familiar with the rhythm of college life and know how much to get

involved with clubs, I’m going to try and find a job or internship for

the spring semester.

Happy holidays and good luck to seniors with college applications!

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about Brown,

college, or anything else (really!!)!

Irene Rojas-Carroll

Brown University 2015


Irene Rojas-Carroll

Brown University 2015

(510) 439-6648

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