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.
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.
Before 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 lives to this mission after 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.