<![CDATA[The Johns Hopkins News-Letter]]> Mon, 29 May 2023 20:37:35 -0400 Mon, 29 May 2023 20:37:35 -0400 SNworks CEO 2023 The Johns Hopkins News-Letter <![CDATA[The butterfly effect: Friendships made at Hopkins ]]> I wish I was cynical about goodbyes. No matter how many times I've had to close a chapter and let go, nostalgia and sentimentality always get the best of me. As I lament the end of not just my Hopkins career but the time spent with my friends, I've always envied those who are able to rationalize goodbyes and move on, though I know this graduation is going to hit differently for all of us.

"Do you think we'll all be friends in four years after we graduate?"

This is a question that one of my friends has been asking our group since freshman year. Usually, we've always taken it in a light-hearted manner, immediately reacting in a collective groan with some telling him to "shut up." But now, that four-year mark is here.

This last semester at Hopkins has made me feel wistful in a way that I've never felt before. Every day, I've felt like I was desperately trying to cling onto and make the most of every single moment, not wanting to let any opportunity to hang out with others slip by while also balancing the many responsibilities I had this year.

At first, I wondered why this end seemed different. I've had to say some tearful goodbye before - at the end of high school, summer camps and even to my family. But then I realized that this is the first goodbye where I genuinely do not know when I will see some of my friends again. In high school, we've always had a home base. Whether it would be in a few months or during the next summer, I knew I would get to see my closest friends somehow because we were all bound to go back home at some point to see our families. With all of my college friends coming from different parts of the U.S. and now pursuing careers in various industries across the country, the next time we will all be together again remains a mystery.

Looking back at the friend groups I've made here, I always marvel at how they came to be and how fortunate I've been to find people who click so well, care so deeply for one another, protect one another and truly motivate each other to succeed. Even if we all come from diverse backgrounds and have different responsibilities and goals, we always try to prioritize our friendships as much as possible - even if that means squeezing in a random 30-minute interval to surprise each other for our birthdays or spending hours planning out the logistics of a trip to ensure that we can all be there.

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about how these friend groups formed.

Of course, some friendships were made more intentionally. For example, before freshman year, I messaged a random girl asking to be roommates, and since then, we've been good friends and have remained roommates up to our last year at Hopkins, bonding over our love for Taylor Swift's songs and staying up for late night album releases. Some friends I sought out by joining a sorority, dance group and other clubs, where I met others who have common interests and experiences.

Some of my other friend groups that have solidified over the past years were initially formed purely by chance through the butterfly effect. If one of my friends had decided not to go to an orientation activity or if I had decided not to go to a party during that first freshman week or if I had roomed with someone else, my Hopkins experience may have been drastically different following a different series of events.

The friends I made through PILOT, for example, are especially a testament to the butterfly effect. In fact, I often say that I would not have found this group if I hadn't joined The News-Letter. Completing my sophomore year halfway around the world from Hopkins was a very isolating experience, and I would not have gotten through it if not for the paper and my Organic Chemistry tutor group. Long story short, I originally had a different PILOT group but needed to switch groups because the initial meeting time conflicted with another meeting I had for the paper as a News and Features Editor.

Such a seemingly small change, but thank God I had to make that switch. For some reason, the people in that group brought the companionship and laughter I was missing during the COVID-19 year, and those weekly Zoom meetings spent struggling over Organic Chemistry problem sets became one of the highlights of my year. Soon, the group began to hang out outside of our PILOT meetings, even Zooming me in to join the conversation since I was not in Baltimore. When I finally returned to campus for my junior year, they were the first people to welcome me back, and our shared experiences and friendships continued to develop through Biochemistry class, beach trips, parties and random late-night hangouts and rant sessions.

While many of the best memories with my friend groups were made on trips (such as to New York, Quakertown, Philadelphia, Shenandoah, Mexico, the Bahamas) and other Hopkins events (we will never forget the great saga of Spring Fair 2022 before the "Meek virus" hit us all), I will miss the mundane and everyday hangouts the most. When will we be able to spontaneously go on weekly adventures or late-night walks again? When will we ever get to live a 10-minute walk (or 30-minute Blue Jay Shuttle ride) away from each other's apartments?

Maybe these friend groups did form through chance and convenience, but they were strengthened by our mutual support, care and love for one another. Our bonds have persisted through all the frustrations, inside jokes, laughs and joys of college. Even though we may not know what the future holds for our friendship or when we will all reunite once we cross that stage on Homewood Field, I trust that the butterfly effect will bring our paths to meet again. I will always be grateful to have shared this slice of my life with the friends I've made here, and I can't wait to see all the success that the future undeniably holds for everyone.


Limpe reflects on the friendships she has made at Hopkins and the uncertainty of the future.

<![CDATA[Gratitude for the unexpected]]> It's hard to believe I'm currently writing my last article for The News-Letter ever. Though I have yet to walk across the stage at Commencement, this feels more like my true Hopkins finale. Yet this closing act of my studenthood hardly feels bittersweet. I can't keep the corners of my mouth from turning up with gratitude while my fingers tap out reflections on the keyboard. Distilling a transformative, years-long college career down into one article is impossible, but I'll do my best to wrap up a few final thoughts for posterity's sake.

When I very anxiously submitted my early decision application way back in 2017, I never could have guessed most of the things that would define my college career. An unprecedented global pandemic was obviously one of these surprises, but I also had never considered joining a campus newspaper nor could I have pictured myself taking time off from school. If I've learned anything, though, it's that life is unpredictable and there's no such thing as a set path. Yet, I'm grateful for all the unexpected twists and turns my story took.

It's practically a rite of passage to question whether attending Hopkins was a good choice. I struggled with this most when I decided to abandon my plan to major in Public Health. But didn't you choose Hopkins because of the Public Health program? Yes, and pursuing a different major meant I was taking a risk and doing what I felt was right, even though I wasn't necessarily confident that it would be. We can never really be sure how pivoting in a new direction will go, but for an anxious, type-A planner like myself, this was a big step. Fortunately, it paid off, so I want to thank my younger self for following her gut.

I would be remiss not to thank the many professors, teaching assistants, advisors, administrators and staff who played a role in my journey. The University's greatest asset is employees who go above and beyond to support students and create spaces for exploring important topics and engaging in thoughtful dialogue. In particular, I want to express my appreciation to instructors who demonstrated a commitment to popping the Hopkins bubble by incorporating the city and the stories of its people into their teaching.

I hate to admit it, but like a typical Hopkins student, I knew very little about Baltimore before I moved here. I had no clue I would develop such a strong connection to this city, but I'm grateful for its unexpected influence. Baltimore has taught me so much: It's the first place I lived independently and the first city I've gotten to know so deeply, and it has come to feel like home. Thank you Baltimore, I will remember you fondly (and visit often).

My dearest thank you of all is to The News-Letter. Perhaps it seems silly that I'm so grateful to a student organization (although I'd argue student newspapers are more of an institution), but like many new students, I struggled with how and whether I belonged at Hopkins. I didn't picture myself as a future member of the media when I joined the paper, but the Gatehouse became my home, and I witnessed so much growth in myself and my peers in that charming stone building at the corner of Charles Street and Art Museum Drive. I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who shared in, encouraged or tolerated this chapter of my life.

Thank you to the alumni who never romanticized working in what many considered to be a dying industry but gave me support and encouragement to believe I could pursue this as a real-life career. I'm beyond grateful to everyone on the paper's staff who saw my potential, trusted me and supported me, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished together. Though it's sad that my chapter at The News-Letter is ending, I know the paper is in good hands, and I can't wait to watch the next generation of staff carry on this legacy.

Thank you to the friends and classmates who let me badger them into writing incredibly meaningful op-eds, to all the writers whose work I had the privilege of editing and to all who read the paper. Thank you to my dad who has kept copies of all the print papers and magazines I ever worked on (which we published weekly pre-pandemic) and never questioned or tried to dissuade me when I decided that the less-than-secure career path of journalism was the one I would follow. You don't go into news for the money, which can be a bit hard to stomach when you know the sticker-price value of the education you spent the last several years pursuing.

I wouldn't trade any of the literal thousands of hours devoted to The News-Letter - even if stress probably took years off of the lives of Leela Gebo, Michelle Limpe, Rebecca Muratore and myself. The dramatic truth is that without the paper, I wouldn't be the person I am today. The most explicit evidence: I had never written news or considered a career in journalism, and now I'm an investigative reporter.

The main thing I wanted out of college (other than a degree) was to answer the elusive question: What do I want to do with my life? Thanks to the support, empowerment, mutual suffering and solidarity of many, I do feel like I got what I wanted. Though a majority of my learning was outside of the classroom, I'm not sure I would have joined a campus paper or been as involved if it weren't at Hopkins.

If you asked a younger Laura to draw what she hoped life after graduation might look like, the picture would vaguely resemble my current reality: happily employed in D.C. with my dog. As to whether I chose the right college, thanks to my peers, professors, family, advisors and The News-Letter, I can now go on record to say the answer is yes.


Wadsten looks back at her college experience and her time with The News-Letter.

<![CDATA[Letter to my freshman self]]> Dear freshman Leela,

Four years ago, there was so much unknown. When I think of you (us?) standing on the stoop in Brooklyn, surrounded by all your earthly possessions, waiting for Dad to pull the car around to drive to Baltimore for orientation, I wish I could give you a hug. You're so nervous about all the classic, first-year things to be nervous about: Will classes be hard? Will you make friends? Mostly, as you stand on the street you've lived on your entire life, you don't know how another place could ever feel like home in the way that Brooklyn does.

Four years later, on the cusp of graduation, a lot of those fears remain the same. The future, once again, is unknown. Now, though, the growing pains I felt leaving Brooklyn are attached to Baltimore and the home I've created here. When I think back to myself four years ago, I am so excited for you. You're about to meet four of your best friends in the whole world and have the opportunity to live with them for three years of college in the quirkiest, loveliest house you've ever lived in. You don't know - yet - about The News-Letter and all the support you will find in its hilarious, dedicated and passionate staff. You don't know the Gatehouse, and how it will become a central part of your campus life. That isn't to say that these things will come easily. The transition to college will be difficult, full of homesickness and worry that Hopkins isn't the right place for you. With the clarity that only hindsight can provide, you'll learn how worth it sticking it out will be.

There are also unimaginable global events coming soon: Leela in August 2019 had no idea that the COVID-19 pandemic is about to bring all life as she knows it to an abrupt halt. It's impossible to reflect on my college career without thinking about finishing freshman year from my childhood bedroom in New York or the blur of an entirely-online sophomore year. I won't dwell on this, though. My college career is inextricable from the effects of the pandemic; the only advice I could give my pre-pandemic self about getting through it is to hold tight to the family and friends (over Zoom and, eventually, in person) that make quarantined life still enjoyable. Appreciate how their love and laughter makes the stress of unprecedented times (groan, I know) bearable, and don't take it for granted once things open up again, either.

This past fall, I studied abroad in Italy - another incredible experience I can't wait for freshman Leela to experience. There, I had a conversation with friends that I think about often: Do you think you live in the past, present or future? Solidly, I think that I live in the past. I'm a sucker for nostalgia, for looking through my own camera roll, for morning-after debriefs and daydreaming about the good moments of late. While this makes me appreciate the past (and makes exercises such as writing letters to my past self extremely enjoyable) it makes change and thinking about the future very hard.

I'm happy to report to you, my nervous, first-year self, that classes were challenging but excellent, that I've made friends that feel like family, and that Baltimore feels just as much like home as Brooklyn. The community I have here is irreplicable; my friends make me a better version of myself every single day. Trying to think of the future, I know that the love and support I now have in Baltimore is what makes the idea of leaving it behind after graduation so hard. But, it is also what gives me the strength to approach the future with optimism and confidence.

So, freshman Leela: Good luck! Have fun, and enjoy the moment. Also, enjoy the crepes at CharMar while you still can.

Love, Leela


In a letter to her freshman self, Gebo reflects on the memorable experiences that have made up her college experience.

<![CDATA[Changing my idea of homesickness]]> "You are like a ball of constant stress."

I remember this line spoken to me during the beginning of my freshman year. At the time, I was still a Peabody Institute voice student, and I was in one of my earliest studio lessons. While nervously singing an art song learned hastily the night before, my legs kept shaking and my head could not keep still. Noting my incessant movement, my professor finally stopped me and spoke this unforgettable line. I know this statement may sound somewhat harsh, but it has to be one of the most accurate statements said to me. It defines who I am.

I am a perpetual worrier. If there is something to be stressed about, trust me, I have already been stressed for weeks. I am far from being a proponent of change. I like to stick to the things I already know.

I think this is why I've dealt with constant homesickness throughout my time at Hopkins.

During my freshman year, I often dreamed of going back to Toronto. Coming to a different city was quite scary for me and easing into the music school routine was way more difficult than I had anticipated. Despite being surrounded by other nervous freshmen, I felt an unbearable sense of loneliness and ached to return to the comfort of my childhood home. Luckily, my loneliness was short-lived as we were all abruptly sent home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At first, I was excited to be home. I embraced the quarantine lifestyle, happily doing Zoom workout sessions and binge-watching an outrageous number of Netflix shows.

Afterwards, I enthusiastically ate my mother's home cooked meals and whipped up the puffiest dalgona iced coffees.

However, as eager as I was to return home, I quickly became just as eager to leave. Who would have thought that being cooped up in your childhood home for over a year would make you suddenly miss communal bathrooms and cafeteria food?

When I returned to Baltimore for my junior year, this time, I felt beyond prepared to be out on my own. I had secured an apartment at the coveted Village Lofts, found a roommate with whom I had instantly connected and was ready to stop seeing my parents on an almost-hourly basis.

But, to my surprise, returning to school was not the magic "fit" I was hoping for. Taking organic chemistry and physics simultaneously took a major toll on my mental health. This, combined with my transferring to a different campus (as I was no longer a Peabody student), made me realize that I lacked a solid support system to deal with this stress.

Once again, I fell into a pit of loneliness. I missed home. I missed being able to drive wherever and whenever I wanted, from early morning Starbucks drive-throughs to late-night bubble tea runs. I missed squeezing my constantly-angry cat whenever I was feeling upset and having my fluffy dog get jealous and frantically try to steal my attention away. I missed so much of my life at home; I missed Toronto.

I understand that this all may sound super sad and depressing, but what Sophia a year ago had yet to realize was how much her life would change in the span of one year.

In this past year, I have both accomplished and experienced so much more than I could have ever imagined.

I explored my passions in education, spending last summer working for the Community Impact Internships Program to coordinate a tuition-free Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth program for low-income students in Baltimore City. I was elected the co-president of the Women's Pre-Health Leadership Society, a club I first joined during my freshman year when I had no clue if I could ever be pre-med. Lastly, I was one of the magazine editors for The News-Letter, when, just two years ago, I was terrified to have anyone read anything I wrote.

More so than any tangible achievement, I have made so many amazing memories here. I played hide-and-seek in Krieger Hall at midnight, literally almost losing two of my friends while doing so. I rallied hard at Power Plant Live! and bar-hopped at Federal Hill, finding my one true love: green tea shots. I held several charcuterie board nights and learned to perfect the art of the "charc" board while oversharing a bit too much over glasses of wine. I tried hotpot for the first time, and it has since become a biweekly must for me to consume an ungodly amount of tender beef dunked in "tom yum soup" broth.

Cliché as it is, I have honestly made some of my closest friends here at Hopkins and have shared so many incredible moments with them that I will cherish forever.

Looking back, it's so funny to me that I was so homesick and desperate to go back to Toronto, as I feel the complete opposite now.

I am already grieving my time here, quietly choking back tears whenever anyone mentions graduation to me. As excited as I am to begin my true "adulting" life, I still feel like that young freshman who could barely wake up for her 8 a.m. theory classes at Peabody. I also still feel like that sophomore who was excited but nervous to speak up in her Zoom breakout rooms. Last but not least, I still feel like that junior who couldn't find her way to Gilman Hall for her first in-person class post-COVID-19.

What I am trying to say is that, in a wild twist of fate, I am already beginning to feel homesick for Hopkins. I wish I could go back in time to tell Sophia one, two or even three years ago that she will be just fine, but I can't. Although I know the future is quite scary, I am sure that Sophia one year from now - or maybe even 10 - would tell me that it will all be okay. Wherever I end up, I will make that place my new home. I am so thankful to have had Hopkins as my home, even if it was cut a bit short.


Park examines how her experiences with homesickness have changed throughout her time at Hopkins.

<![CDATA[Being @jhufreestuff]]> At this point, it's not really a secret anymore, but, for those who don't know, my name is Isabel, and I started @jhufreestuff on Instagram. To be honest, part of the reason I wanted to write this article was because of the theatrics (not surprising if you follow the account). The other reason was that I wanted a chance to reflect on what it's been like to run this account for almost four years, which I can't really do in one "face reveal" post on my Instagram story.

Usually, the first question people ask when I tell them I run @jhufreestuff is "How did you come up with the idea?", so I'll address that first. It's pretty basic - in the fall of 2019 during my freshman year, I noticed that there were a lot of free giveaways on campus but no centralized way to hear about them. I would see an organization giving out donuts or get random texts from friends saying that "CharMar has free ice cream".

I didn't have any other social media experience other than my personal Instagram account, but I felt that there was nothing to lose with an anonymous social media account dedicated to free stuff. So, I made the account, found an image of Mordecai from Regular Show and started following anyone with "Hopkins" in their bio. If you scroll back far enough, you'll see that my first post wasn't even really about free stuff; it's a post about the now-defunct Sterling Brunch at the dining halls. I really don't know why I posted about it. I think I was just excited to have slightly fancier food.

Running this account is definitely a little selfish. I had always wanted to be a celebrity or influencer-type person growing up, but I'm far too lazy to actually put effort into starting a YouTube channel. The account allowed me to become a "personality" without an actual talent, and the audience is guaranteed because who is going to pass on hearing about free stuff? So, thank you to everyone who follows for feeding my delusions of being a celebrity - I truly felt like Hannah Montana.

Something that I'm happy about that I didn't originally intend is that the account was able to promote different clubs! As a member of various clubs (most notably, Inter-Asian Council), it's pretty hard to promote your events to the student body. We used to do Facebook events, but no one even uses Facebook anymore - the generational gap between Class of 2023 and 2024 is wild. Having a student-run account that's not official but still widely followed made learning about events more accessible.

Though some of the things I reposted weren't free or didn't include giveaways, I feel that I had an obligation to use my platform as a Hopkins student to support the other organizations on campus. By assisting clubs or departments in publicizing their events, I believe that this account has helped knit the social fabric of the Homewood campus, at least in a small way.

I want to emphasize - at least, compared to the people I know at other colleges - we get so much free stuff. I have enough free Hopkins merch for a whole new wardrobe. It might be because I actively seek out these kinds of events, but I have been well-fed and dressed these past four years. So, take advantage of it! And not just to get the free trinkets but also to indulge in the unique sense of community that a college campus provides. From outdoor trips to speaker series to tote-bag decorating, all these events are created for students specifically, so I highly encourage you to take a break from Brody for an hour and check out what else is happening on campus.

I've truly had a lot of fun running this account. It gave me the opportunity to see campus from a broader perspective because I wasn't focused on one specific niche (other than free stuff). I got to learn about clubs and community organizations I hadn't heard of and interact with students I otherwise may not have met. Again, thank you to everyone who DMs us, shares stories or has post notifications on; I really appreciate the account's not flopping!

As for the future of @jhufreestuff: A lot of people have asked me about whether the account will continue. I "hired" a co-admin last year, so they will be continuing to run @jhufreestuff for the next couple of years! Shoutout to them, they know who they are. I might also stay logged into the account - if only to keep an eye out for more free food.


Veloso shares what inspired her to start @jhufreestuff and what the future holds for the account.

<![CDATA[Dear junior-year Charlene, you can't write yourself out of your past ]]> Content warning: The following article includes topics some readers may find triggering, including sexual assault.

Back home in Taiwan, my family likes to joke that I am an ai ku gui: a crying ghost.

Strange as it is, this is the thought I turn to as I retrieve memories from my college years. My first impulse is to compartmentalize them into "happy" recollections and "not-so-happy" ones. But, of course, my college experience has been far more nuanced and complicated than that.

Looking back, I realize I hold onto many regrets, frustrations and disappointments. I have shed many tears, some happy but many sad and angry, and I write this not out of a sense of nostalgia for "the best four years of my life" but through the reconciled realization that these four years were far from perfect.

Certainly, there are memories that make me happy, make me laugh, make me wish I could just press pause and relive them again and again and again. Some examples: a train ride to Boston with friends, a women-versus-men paintball battle with bodies turning into masses of bruises, a twelve-hour-long conversation with my "bestie" suitemate.

Then there are chunks of memory that are blurry and dredged from the twilight zone. Sophomore year: remote learning, a blur, a world shrunk down to my bedroom. The Zoom fatigue and constant burnout. The major milestones that passed by without the people to celebrate them. The hum of loneliness, a sensation that still feels like a low-grade migraine.

I grew so tired of carrying this solitude that, when I moved back on campus in junior year, I placed an outsized sense of faith in my freshman friend-group of eight men and three women. We congregated every weekend to watch movies, play poker and eat dinner. Gosh, it felt wonderful to be surrounded by friends again.

Then, a few months into junior spring, this group I remembered so fondly fell apart within the span of a week.

Junior spring: many sad tears, many angry tears. Things that make me rageful, make me crestfallen, make me want to wipe them out completely from my memories. But some memories cannot be forgotten as much as I want to forget them. Forgetting, after all, is a luxury.

I would spend the majority of that semester despondent and rageful. I would learn that the world could be a hard and unforgiving place. I would discover a new category of sadness all its own.

A male friend I'd grown close to - a man I'd trusted immensely - would violate my body. How the assault distorted my sense of self-worth and nearly broke me. How, in the aftermath, I found a thousand ways to hate my body rather than the man who hurt me.

I would cry in my bedroom. Inside the gym bathroom. On a solo walk to Hampden. I would have a hard time navigating this new set of reality, one that I never asked for in the first place.

And, when I finally found words to articulate this "thing" that happened to me, when I opened up about my assault, I watched my former friends exonerate him from accountability.

I watched a former female friend defend my perpetrator - "Why out him if you don't know the full story?" - and proceed to post not once, not twice, but three times on Instagram, celebrating her friendship with him in response to me.

"Thanks for being the most amazing friend."

"Thank you for all the haha funnies, the memories and the late-night shenanigans."

Words can hurt. Photos can hurt. To her, I was an unreliable narrator who had exaggerated. Overreacted. Told half-truths and outright lies. My perpetrator was the wronged man with so much charisma left to spare.

How infuriating and confusing it was to know deep down that I'd been assaulted, only to be denied my pain by a man so capable of deftly convincing the world that it had all been a misunderstanding.

How cruel it was for a female friend who knew exactly what had happened do everything in her power to ruthlessly diminish my pain, my trauma. Woman to woman, it was more than salt rubbed onto an open wound. It was more than a betrayal. It was a violent offense.

As much as I want to write about something happy and light-hearted, my mind can only gravitate towards this swollen, festering wound of junior spring. I don't want my college life to be solely defined by these "not-so-happy" memories, but they still sneak up on me like a ghost - unbidden, haunting.

I struggle to call myself a victim-survivor because how much of this experience have I actually "survived" if I am constantly thinking about him, about her?

My perpetrator and the female friend have occupied a disproportionate amount of space in my vault of college memories, and I want to vacate portions of my history and leave no trace of myself in this window of time.

I wish they could just be irrelevant side characters in my personal history, never to reappear in the story of my life. I wish I could say that neither of them is worth my breath and time, but here I am writing this.

And I feel so much anger in my bones, the pressure building right beneath my skin.

The man - shameless and self-justifying - who made me feel so small and repulsive in the body I inhabit and own, this body that has belonged to me for 21 years and counting.

The woman - all bark, no bite - who took personal offense to my violation, who had absolutely no right to control my experience.

I am tired of the mute, oppressive feeling of silence that kept me from verbalizing this hurt since junior spring. I can't undo what happened, and I am sorry to tell you, junior-year Charlene, that you would grit your teeth writing many badly-composed pages, and that you still would not be able to write yourself out of your past.

But writing is how I make sense of my college years. Writing is my protection. Writing is my empowerment. Writing is my liberation.

I write my last article for The News-Letter to give space for introspection, and I will continue to write because some things are meant to be heard more than once.

I return to the past not to compartmentalize and put it away, but to understand how I have grown and matured from it, how I have undergone a change of heart, how I can contextualize it with new meaning.

I am reaching out and taking the hand of my past self who endured - and is still enduring - the weight of trauma.

I am reaching out to my mother who called me daily in junior spring to check in on me. To my father who flew all the way to America from Taiwan. To my high school friend who is always so patient and endearing. To those who, by supporting me, have also lost friends in the process. To old and new friends who have made my final year after junior spring happier and brighter. To jhsurvivors.

Perhaps, if there is one piece of advice I would give to my past self - to the crying ghost, to the angry woman, to the survivor - it is this:

Don't let the bastards bring you down.

Graduating me, I welcome you with open arms.

The Counseling Center may be contacted by calling (410) 516-8278 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. A counselor is also available 24/7 at that same number in emergency situations.

Student Outreach and Support is available for appointments and can be contacted at (410) 516-7857 or at studentoutreach@jhu.edu.

Religious & Spiritual Life can be reached from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at (410) 516-1880 or at chaplain@jhu.edu.

A Place to Talk is available for in-person support Sunday through Thursday. Members are available from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. in Brody Learning Commons 4010 and from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. in AMR I.

TimelyMD's TalkNow service is available 24/7 and can be accessed by visiting timelycare.com/jhu.

Students may contact their resident advisors or residence directors or visit the Residential Life Office. Residential Life can be contacted by phone at (410) 516-8283 or by email at residentiallife@jhu.edu.


Huang shares how her experience at Hopkins has had its highlights and challenges.

<![CDATA[My virtual beginnings and physical endings at Hopkins]]> As someone who started at Hopkins in the fall of 2020, many of my "college firsts" were virtual. It's hard to define when exactly my college experience became "normal." It could have been in my first in-person class sophomore year or the first show I was able to perform without wearing a mask. However, at some point, Zoom chats became study sessions at friends' apartments and asynchronous classes turned into saving a seat for your friend before a lecture. Even though my current relationships have illuminated a bit of what COVID-19 stole from my college experience, I think it's made the minimal "normal" time I've had at Hopkins all the more special.

As I approach graduation, I can't help but scroll through some of the messages my friends and I exchanged at the beginning of our relationships. I certainly did not know that any of these exchanges would turn into nostalgic memories, but maybe that's the point of looking back. It's humbling to see how much can start with something so little.

The roommates

Back in December 2020, I was stir-crazy from experiencing my virtual freshman fall from Austin when I got an email that my housing assignment had come in for that spring! Within minutes, Allison tracked me down by my Instagram and reached out. By the end of the day, we had a group chat for the entire suite: Asha, Dinaka, Allison and me.

In our first few weeks of living together, we were quarantined together along with the rest of Scott-Bates Commons after a COVID-19 outbreak. That weekend, we celebrated Dinaka's 19th birthday with a pint of ice cream and a Netflix night.

Throughout the spring, the four of us became a quarantine pod of sorts, hanging out in the living room most days and going on adventures on the few days we had off. In sophomore year, we moved together to Homewood Apartments, and, now, we live off campus together. I'm so grateful to these ladies for being a central point of my college experience. I already miss texts from Allison asking if we want to get take-out, Dinaka's synopses of her favorite television shows and Asha's hot takes on the latest movies.


Caitlin actually sent me this message the same weekend my roommates and I were in quarantine. Regrettably, this delayed our ability to actually hang out until the summer months. I got to recognize Caitlin's face better from seeing her Zoom screen during virtual Rosary nights hosted by the Catholic Community at Hopkins. During fall 2021, we both ended up working at the same clinic through Hopkins Community Connection. Now that we finally had a chance to engage in spontaneous conversation, I felt like I could get to know her better.

Although I was initially hesitant to accept Caitlin's invitations to hang out after nearly two years of lockdown, I'm super grateful for how Caitlin never stopped asking. By that November, I was baking cupcakes in her apartment. By the summer, she was the first person I texted after finishing my Medical College Admission Test to ask if we could commiserate over ice cream.

Not only is Caitlin such a kind and driven friend, but she also introduced me to so many other girls - Annie, Cassie and others - who have inspired me throughout my time at Hopkins.


In freshman spring, I joined a sorority in hope of having a slightly more normal college experience. Natalie had reached out to me to set up a "girl date" to see if we would be a good match as big and little. Even though our girl date ended in a torrential rainstorm and being turned away from Wicked Sisters, which was at a reduced capacity during COVID-19, I'm so glad we still ended up being paired together.

When I had to drop my sorority during that fall, I was nervous that it would affect my relationship with Natalie. However, I found that we somehow still ended up spending lots of time together. We supported each other through stressful Molecular and Cellular Biology upper-level courses. Natalie continued to give me college advice as any big should while I saved her a seat every day in Developmental Biology - my first and last in-person lecture class at Hopkins.

I actually didn't realize that Natalie and Caitlin even knew each other until long after I had met the two of them. I guess that's the nature of meeting virtually when it's harder to simply "run into" people. However, once I knew, I felt so grateful to have a connected community of friends for corn maze days and Galentine's nights!

The News-Letter

On a more professional note, it's scary to look back and think I almost didn't join The News-Letter. I was in Austin that fall, and the idea of joining a virtual club scared me a little bit. Luckily, Bayleigh and Trisha, the Science and Technology (SciTech) editors at the time, sent me one more email just in case I was still interested. Slowly, I began looking forward to my projects with The News-Letter more than most parts of my week. My interviews with scientists over Zoom soon turned into my covering in-person events at Hopkins Hospital or visiting a restaurant with a press pass for its grand opening.

When I became an editor of SciTech, I had no idea I was in for a rollercoaster of emotions. But I also got to see new writers grow into confident editors in the same way I did. I also met some amazing co-editors and chiefs who supported me in my dreams to continue science writing after graduation. When I got a dream internship, my co-editor Zach was the first person I texted. Even though Zach said he's excited to see what I do, I'm even more excited to see how SciTech continues to grow under his leadership and that of the new editors.


Mattoon reflects on how starting her college experience virtually affected the way she formed important relationships.

<![CDATA[Baking my last batch of brownies]]> I made my last batch of brownies today. Not my last batch ever, of course, but my last batch for a few, specific, important people.

On the day of my convocation in freshman year, I baked my first batch of brownies at Hopkins in the Wolman Hall common kitchen for my First-Year Mentor group. Back in August of 2019, I was bound to the Betty Crocker box mix, since I had no time to shop for ingredients amidst orientation week. While I knew that my homemade brownies were definitely better, I was more than happy to bring baked goods of some kind to top off my group's time together.

As we ate our convocation dinner and enjoyed my brownies for dessert in the Mudd lecture hall (it was raining outside in true Hopkins fashion), the boy next to me thanked me for the brownie and said it was delicious. While this probably wasn't the reason he decided to ask me out later, it's hard to deny that this was a contributing factor.

Once I got my own kitchen, I started to make them from scratch so everyone could taste my mom's amazing recipe. Throughout my entire time at Hopkins, she has regularly shipped me high-fat, specialty cocoa powder from our town's spice store so that the quality of my product never dips. I have a feeling this arrangement will continue as long as I live outside of the same ZIP Code as her.

I'll take just about any excuse to make brownies: birthdays, going-away parties for my friends who are studying abroad, Friendsgiving, my mock trial team, my coworkers and those mundane nights when my roommates and I just needed some chocolate. Even if I'm eager to bake them, there's an inherent significance to my practice.

My mom has printed laminated cards with her recipe on it to give to friends, family, teachers, coaches and anyone else who needs a pick-me-up. She reflects her mom in this practice; there was never a time when my grandma didn't have a fresh batch of cookies and blueberry muffins. Each time I give someone a brownie, I'm passing on a piece of the love she taught me to extend to all those who bring my life meaning.

The most rewarding and fulfilling part about college for me has been sharing my gifts with the people that I love and, in turn, getting to celebrate their gifts. Through the first to the last performing arts showcase and research symposium, the many jubilant nights out after conquering a looming midterm and the utter euphoria of celebrating graduate school and job acceptances - I've been strengthened to be the best version of myself: someone whose love can best be expressed in baked goods.

I've never been one to smoothly accept change. When I think about how time has whipped by since that final night of orientation week, I'm simultaneously angry about all the valuable time we lost to COVID-19, devastated to be leaving this place behind and so grateful for all the moments in between then and now. But I can't feel any sort of regret for having lived authentically and fully, even if just temporarily, for four wonderful years with countless wonderful people.

So, to every single brownie recipient: I am forever grateful for you, and, even though I can't bake for you with such ease anymore, I'm still with you every step of the way. I'll put an extra handful of chocolate chips in when I think of you while I make my next batch.

They don't taste quite the same when you ship them from city to city, so here's the recipe for everyone who needs it:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 tbsp butter, melted
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 handfuls of chocolate chips

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Use a hand mixer to beat all the ingredients until the batter is well combined. Pour the batter into an 8x8 pan. Bake for 22 minutes at 350 degrees (20 for a gooey consistency).


Maras describes how baking brownies has been a central part of her college friendships.

<![CDATA[A farewell to the Gatehome]]> Believe it or not, one of the hardest goodbyes I've had to make at Hopkins was to a building - the Gatehouse to be exact. The grayish-green building, worn down yet exquisite in its architecture, that remains unknown to most of Hopkins represents much more than a corner of campus: it houses the institution of The News-Letter, an organization that I have dedicated my entire Hopkins career to.

While I entered Hopkins with the goal of writing for The News-Letter, I never imagined that I would find a home and so much fulfillment from my work here.

Most may view their time at Hopkins in terms of years - freshman, sophomore, junior and senior - but I often think of it in terms of the positions I've held within the paper.

My first semester at Hopkins was a blur marked by bouts of homesickness, the excitement of making friends and joining clubs, and the stress of figuring out how to live independently. Despite all the uncertainties of freshman year, the one constant I had was making the trek from dance practice at the (once-standing) Mattin Center to the (still standing) Gatehouse for the 6:30 p.m. News budget meeting every Monday.

I still recall the frenzy that enveloped the building every time I walked inside, with editors rushing back and forth and conversation spilling all across the rooms - a scene which was only more chaotic when I went in to finish articles on Wednesday print nights. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic turned our whole world upside down and moved the remainder of my freshman spring indoors, attending the weekly News meetings (on Zoom this time) remained on my schedule.

For the remainder of my time at Hopkins, 6:30 p.m. on Mondays was always set aside for The News-Letter, no matter what.

After working as a staff writer throughout my freshman year, I was hesitant to run for the position of News and Features Editor for the following year. With plans to take physics, organic chemistry and public health classes as a sophomore, I thought that the workload of an editor would be too much on my plate. Moreover, I still recalled the shame I felt toward my nervousness to interview sources for my first article, a skill that I consciously developed as I became a regular writer.

With the encouragement of my News editors then, I decided to run, and the timing worked out because I happened to be on the News and Features team during the peak of COVID-19. Though I was taking classes halfway across the world from campus, covering the never-ending series of broadcast emails from the administration and the various protests and town halls kept me connected to Hopkins and the greater Baltimore community.

That year solidified my commitment to the paper, and I returned to the Gatehouse during my junior year as a Managing Editor and soon served as one of the Editors-in-Chief this past senior year. With each position, the time I dedicated to the paper only grew and bumped my Monday News-Letter meetings earlier. Throughout all the stress and commitments that came with running a paper, I loved learning about the different sections and aspects of the production process and was so honored to have had the opportunity to lead its vision coming back from the pandemic.

Throughout our year as Editors-in-Chief, my co-Chief Molly Gahagen and I always thought of the paper as our baby. We have been filled with so much pride and joy to see our goals and projects come to fruition this past year through the work of our talented staff, especially without a journalism department at Hopkins.

From my time with The News-Letter, I found an additional support system through the like-minded, passionate people who fill the Gatehouse and form its very core. While the public only sees the finished product of our labor on our website and in the print newspapers around campus, I saw the paper come alive through the process behind our publication. The late-night conversations at the office during print weeks, the inside jokes full of newspaper tea and the establishment of our alumni network are some of the many memories that will stay with me long after the pages immortalizing our work begin to turn yellow.

I also found my voice here, both from leading the staff and writing various articles. The paper allowed me to develop and experiment with my writing, testing out different voices and refining my technique in style and structure. Not only did it allow me to develop my skills further in preparation for my career, but, most of all, I found my purpose at Hopkins in documenting our institution's history and bringing light to the issues of those without a platform.

There will always be news to cover and articles to publish, and I'm proud to have done my part to serve the Hopkins community through The News-Letter and to have played a role in the publication's 127-year history. I used to think that my legacy at Hopkins would lie within my bylines and the writings left behind on the Gatehouse walls. However, I now realize that my legacy will lie within the paper itself and how it has touched and will continue to touch and influence the Hopkins community.

My time at The News-Letter will always be a special and central part of my Hopkins experience, preparing me well to tackle the next adventures of adulthood. As I walk past the Gatehouse for the last time before leaving Baltimore for good, the memories and emotions automatically wash over me. No words can describe how much I'll miss the corner of Hopkins that we made our own. Though I'll now have other things to fill my Monday evenings, I leave knowing that next year's staff are equipped to uphold the lasting traditions at the Gatehouse, and I look forward to joining the alumni network and seeing the paper grow.


Limpe discusses the home the Gatehouse has provided to her over the past four years.

<![CDATA[The road to Hopkins must be repaired ]]> Do you remember move-in day? Do you remember the pit in your stomach and the daydreams you had as you stared from the car window envisioning the next four years? I remember sitting in the backseat texting my roommate "I'm close" as we passed the "Maryland Welcomes You!" sign. However, off the highway, my daydreams were disrupted by a sudden and violent shaking of the car. My mother began to swerve around an army of potholes that dotted the roads in what could have been a real-life Fast and Furious.

"This is Baltimore?" she asked, shocked. "This is Hopkins?"

She turned back at me for a response, but I had no idea what to say.

Now, after three and a half years of exploring how a predominantly white institution functions within a predominantly Black city, I can answer her questions. That was Baltimore, but it was not Hopkins.

Each city's streets tell a different story. New York City's potholes cry from overuse, L.A.'s smooth pavement boasts the glamour we'd expect of Hollywood. However, Baltimore's roads tell a more sinister tale, one of crumbling infrastructure, environmental racism and a strained relationship between Hopkins and the city's residents. The story starts, as many Baltimorean stories do, with what scholar Lawrence T. Brown calls the Black Butterfly and the White L.

Hypersegregation practices in Baltimore began over 100 years ago. With legislation outlawing segregation in the 20th century, the city had to become inventive in devising ways to maintain the boundaries between Black and white residents. Realtors, city leaders and bank lenders feared integration would sink real estate prices and jeopardize the wealth of white homeowners, so these elites determined who could live where and how resources would be allocated among the city's residents - unequally.

These decisions left a legacy of racial division and public disinvestment that has affected generations of Black Baltimoreans, trapping them within the Black Butterfly wings of East and West Baltimore, while their white counterparts reside within the L-shaped stripe in the middle. It's the reason why epicenters of poverty sit within walking distance of charming suburbs, why vacant houses deteriorate just miles away from growing high-rises in Fells Point and why smooth roads connecting the Black Butterfly's wings and the white L are so hard to find.

Look above Baltimore's deepening potholes, and one can see the physical manifestation of racism in the form of failing infrastructure. Take the Highway to Nowhere, also known as Route 40. It was commissioned 50 years ago to be an extension of Interstate 70 but was canceled midway through construction. Today, this 1.39-mile strip of pavement stands as a derisive symbol of the 62 businesses, 971 homes and 1,500 Baltimoreans that were uprooted for its creation. And yet, it is still just a single chapter in a novel of infrastructural failings that have displaced minorities.

In the past year alone, three sinkholes have opened in Baltimore and swallowed the homes of unsuspecting Baltimoreans. The most conspicuous sinkhole was caused by the neglect of a 115-year-old storm drain that collapsed due to increased rain, a trend forecasted to continue due to the consistently rising temperatures. The victims filed a lawsuit, expecting to be reimbursed for their losses, but the city claimed they owe the residents nothing. This lackluster response begs the question: Who will support Baltimoreans if their own government casts them aside? Baltimoreans pay taxes to strengthen public facilities expecting that, if tragedy strikes, a safety net awaits their fall. But, in this case, the city has abandoned them, leaving them to tumble through an abyss with a broken parachute.

And then, there is Hopkins - the white, nonprofit knight that doesn't pay taxes to the city of Baltimore. Hopkins lies within the white L, an area that has historically received more state funding than the Black Butterfly. The fact that a lack of economic power begets a lack of political power explains why predominantly Black areas, areas with no ties to the University, face higher rates of displacement and destruction.

Mayor Brandon Scott put it best when he said, "In America, the sound of construction generates feelings of progress, prosperity and opportunity. However, this same sound in one America, the one that we're standing in right now in West Baltimore, often provokes fear of displacement in inequality."

I wake every day to the ceremonious drilling of the Hopkins Student Center, and I can't help but envy the incoming classes, the resources they'll have that I didn't. And yet, there is something to be said by the fact that all I feel is envy, not fear. The same drilling noises five miles away strike anxiety in the hearts of vulnerable Baltimoreans who can't be sure whether construction will create new employment opportunities and safer neighborhoods or inflate prices and destroy community buildings.

Hopkins' role is not actively malevolent, but it is willfully ignorant. The hand of Hopkins demolishes existing structures rather than restoring them and integrating the institution within the local community. The East Baltimore Development Initiative (EBDI) is an ongoing revitalization of the East Baltimore, a project that President Ronald J. Daniels has persistently championed. Premised on clearing vacant homes to spur equitable economic development, the harsh reality of the initiative has been two decades of irregular development, the abrupt displacement of approximately 800 Black and brown families and subsidies for Hopkins employees to settle in East Baltimore.

"EBDI has taken control of the community, and the community is no longer ours; the community belongs to them," stated Donald Gresham, the president of Baltimore Redevelopment Action Coalition for Empowerment.

By replacing disinvested areas of Baltimore rather than reconciling the city's divisions, Hopkins heightens the disparity between the Butterfly's center and wings. This disparity can be felt in the tremors of your car traveling up Greenmount Avenue and can be seen in the transformation of homes as you walk along North Charles Street. It is the paradox of Hopkins: a seemingly ubiquitous institution that has isolated itself from the city crumbling around it.

On the eve of my departure from University, I navigate around the same potholes my mother did, not nearly as fast but a bit more furious. I regret not taking a more active role in the development of the community around me. As Hopkins students caught up in our own endless ambitions, we are often naïve to the systemic forces hindering Baltimore's growth, yet we are quick to condemn its boarded homes and decaying architecture. History has proven time and time again that judgment paired with ignorance sparks regression rather than productivity. Perhaps - if we took initiative and investigated the impact of Hopkins beyond its self-proclaimed accolades, if we recognized systemic racism as not just a buzzword but an omnipresent force of subjugation, if we took action in the form of education and outreach - the road to Hopkins would be the same as the road within, smooth and level.

Christal Oji is a graduating senior from Bridgewater, N.J. majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Economics on the pre-med track.


Oji highlights the problems with Baltimore's infrastructure and considers the contributing role of Hopkins.

<![CDATA[The end of Combating Climate Change (just the column!)]]>

Dear Readers,

For the final time, I am writing for my column. I'll be graduating this month and have been working on this column for the last four years. I started writing for The News-Letter's Science and Technology section in my freshman year. My first-ever article covered an event centered around sustainability. That event was what made me think more about our planet and, more specifically, climate change. I reached out to my then-editors and asked to write a column; thus, Combating Climate Change was born.

Rereading the first article makes me remember a specific moment. I was sitting in my freshman-year dorm in October 2019, feeling slightly sad. The fall semester of freshman year had been rough, and I was far away from home. But I remember when that night, I got dinner, sat on my bed and started typing. It was one of the first things that I had felt happy about in a while. This column became a way for me to express my passion for climate change reform. I also was able to connect with climate change events all over the world, from Pakistan's floods to Texas' snowstorms.

As I mentioned in my article "On being an imperfect environmentalist," thinking about climate change can be scary - daunting, even. It is an issue with multiple dimensions, and it can seem like there is no one solution. However, that's also reassuring: There is no one solution, but, maybe as we implement more solutions, the magnitude of reform and reversal can get us to a better place. Every small action does help.

We can accumulate any contributions made to help relieve climate change. That being said, we must hold corporations responsible for their large-scale contributions to climate change. Along with that, the government must assume responsibility for aiding and creating climate change efforts.

I am very optimistic that we can continue to make change and progress. We must be optimistic in order for change to happen. I would like to think that writing this column was one way I contributed, as I hope to educate people in an understandable way.

It was an honor to have a space to write about climate change. I appreciate every single reader. I also thank all my editors through these four years - Trisha Parayil, Laura Wadsten, William Blair, Ellie Rose Mattoon and Zachary Bahar - who have taken the time to meet with me to talk about my ideas and help fine-tune the articles that you read. Thank you.


Tanvi Narvekar

<![CDATA[The Bohs: A group of rock-loving students thrive within an otherwise quiet Hopkins band scene]]> If one thing is certain when it comes to the arts community at Hopkins, it is each artist's individual passion. Whether it's the many theater groups, orchestras or underground coalitions of rock-loving musicians, the arts of our lady Homewood are alive and well. But is this hidden culture that courses through the student body recognized as much as it should be?

One perfect example of this sometimes-hidden culture is The Bohs, a newly formed rock group made up of sophomores and seniors alike. I had the pleasure of interviewing the group as they rehearsed their performance for the student group showcase during Spring Fair.

My first exposure to The Bohs came just this past weekend at Alpha Epsilon Pi's Hopstock event, a party full of '60s love and hippie energy. The Bohs were the closing performance, playing songs like Fleetwood Mac's "Chain" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son." It was extremely refreshing after countless crowded basements full of Pitbull and Taylor Swift.

Their performance was really sophisticated, with grand, Jimi-Hendrix-style guitar solos by graduate student Garret Goldin and stunning vocals from lead singer Faith McCarthy. Aside from the setlist, it was a great experience to see a live band comprised entirely of students.

The band was initiated by McCarthy and guitarist and drummer Joe Zahner, who reached out on Sidechat this past summer to look for other members. Bassist Michael Ahmadi and Goldin got back to them soon after, and they kept in touch through the fall semester, making plans to start rehearsing after winter break.

The Bohs were finally formed just this past January, but they already have three shows under their belt. Two months after they first got together - after two weeks of intense, sweaty rehearsals in the Shriver Hall practice room - they got their first gig at Phi Kappa Psi's Underground Sound concert this past March. The event was for charity and raised well over $1,000. Soon after, the group played at a dance group formal, and their most recent gig was at Hopstock this past Sunday.

In an interview with The News-Letter, McCarthy emphasized the role of the student radio station at Hopkins, WJHU, which helped get them gigs early on. She specified that WJHU booked The Bohs for Underground Sound.

"We definitely got lucky with the timing of things, like right as we were coming up, [WJHU] said, 'Oh hey, we have this huge mashup of bands, do you guys wanna play?'" Goldin added.

The setlist at Hopstock only presented a limited range of The Bohs' musical interests. When I asked each member who their favorite artists were, they all cited rock bands and rock musicians (obviously), but each of them had a different focus.

Goldin is a big Hendrix guy, but his favorite bands are mostly from the '90s, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters and Nirvana. McCarthy said she was more of a '70s girl, mentioning Maggie Rogers, an indie artist from her hometown, as a key influence. Zahner is mostly a blues rock, Grateful Dead fan, while Ahmadi plays classical cello as well as bass. As he joked, he has "a classical background but threw it all away for rock."

"I think it's really cool that everyone has their own thing they bring to the table... there's a bunch of potential to have a lot of fun and not get bored," said Zahner in an interview with The News-Letter.

This diversity of genre is useful when it comes to gigs as well. According to McCarthy, each of their three separate sets required a completely different era of songs. At Underground Sound, the bands were asked to play more '90s grunge. At the dance formal, they played more contemporary, pop hits from artists such as Gwen Stefani and Paramore. And of course, at Hopstock, they went back a few decades to indulge in the free-spirited sounds of '60s rock.

Versatility is a defining aspect of their music, with musicians swapping instruments mid-set and embracing the different tonal qualities of separate eras of rock.

"Metal-reggae-pop-funk-alternative," Goldin said when asked which genre they may focus on.

Talking about the band scene at Hopkins, all the band members agreed something is simply lacking - whether it be a general lack of enthusiasm, lack of time or even a lack of resources.

Zahner mentioned that the band has really only encountered three other bands: Phi Kappa Psi's band, Saint Paul, and two other bands from Peabody. As far as Homewood Campus goes, there are certainly plenty of musicians - WJHU's Spring Show during Spring Fair had six featured artists and bands, ranging from rock to rap and hip hop.

"[Bands] are pretty far and few, at least on the surface... I feel like it's a bit quieter than other campuses," Goldin said.

According to Goldin, the band culture at other college campuses, such as Princeton University and George Washington University, is very much alive and well, positing that it might be a Hopkins-specific problem.

However, Zahner pointed out that there are plenty of people who play an instrument at Hopkins, and music is still a big part of Homewood Campus.

"Somewhere else, there might be a ton of bands that all suck... like they're just going for it. Here, I think they'd be pretty good," he said.

Goldin theorized that people may just be too shy to look for bandmates.

McCarthy chimed in, connecting the issue to other communities around campus.

"Generally, the arts at Hopkins are undervalued... I can't speak for Peabody, but here at Homewood... even being in an a capella group, there's so much talent that goes unseen," she said.

For Ahmadi, it's also due to a lack of opportunities.

"There need to be more opportunities to showcase the talent... more than just one show," said Ahmadi.

This is a sentiment that I have witnessed firsthand as well - lots of artists who are mildly interested in starting a band never end up playing music together. It could be a lasting effect of the COVID-19 years, but even something as simple as a lack of creative spaces could be a huge factor.

Earlier in the interview, I asked about their experience rehearsing in Shriver Hall before they started practicing at Goldin's apartment. Shriver Hall has one, beaten-up drum set in a small room on the basement floor. The main thing the band members complained about was the heat, which was compounded by the close quarters they had to play in, but, conceptually, lugging all the equipment (such as amps and guitars) to a distant hall every time you want to practice might take a toll on one's enthusiasm.

The Shriver Hall practice room is the sole option for bands to practice together on campus. After construction for the new student center started in 2021, bands have had to relocate along with the various dance and a capella groups. This will change once the new student center is completed, but that's out of the question for The Bohs as half of its members are seniors.

Regardless of the many constraints on student music culture and the band scene here at Hopkins, The Bohs are an example of what can be achieved if passionate musicians reach out and stay patient. It often only takes one person to bring a whole group of talented musicians together; you just have to reach out, even if it's through Sidechat.


The Bohs take on all eras of rock with a general, fun-loving passion for music, seeking to revitalize the Hopkins band scene.

<![CDATA[Thoughts of Kehlani in the Rec Center won't keep me "up at night"]]> This past Saturday, I spent my night in the Ralph S. O'Connor Center for Recreation and Well-Being. Instead of smelling like sweat and disinfectant wipes, the Rec Center was filled with the White-Claw breath of hordes of Hopkins students after a day of dartying. We were all gathered (way too close together) on the basketball court to watch Kehlani, this year's Spring Fair Concert headliner.

Kehlani Parrish is a rhythm-and-blues-pop singer-songwriter from Oakland, Calif. who has more than a decade of experience in the music industry and has collaborated with artists such as Justin Bieber, Jhené Aiko and Zedd. When I heard that Kehlani would be the Spring Fair Concert headliner, I was shocked that Hopkins could afford someone so well known. That being said, while I listened to their song "Honey" frequently in high school, I still wasn't super familiar with Kehlani's discography. So, on April 19, after CampusGroups crashed several times, I made my ticket purchase and started streaming Kehlani's biggest hits in preparation.

I wasn't sure what to expect going into the concert. I didn't attend last year's Spring Fair Concert, headlined by Meek Mill, and thankfully didn't get the subsequent "Meek Mill variant" of COVID-19. When my friends and I arrived at the Rec Center - admittedly a bit late - there was already a huge crowd gathered in front of the stage and a DJ was playing music videos of the top 40 songs from the 2010s. We stood around to Nicki Minaj's "Starships," waiting for the show to begin.

"It feels like a really cool 13-year-old's Bar Mitzvah," my friend said.

I usually wouldn't mind waiting an hour or two for a concert to begin, but the crowd was, in a word, dead. Just when the DJ put on "Gasolina" and it seemed like the energy might be picking up, they quickly changed the song. I couldn't even get in a "dame más gasolina." My friends and I were devastated by this turn of events.

When Kehlani finally came out around 9:30 p.m., the crowd erupted into cheers, and I stood on my toes, trying to see them on the stage. I then became privy to some pertinent information: being 5'4" (on a good day) and attending a standing-room-only concert don't mix well.

At the music festivals I've been to, my height hasn't been much of an issue because live footage of the performers was projected on massive screens. While there was a big screen set up in the Rec Center, instead of having Kehlani on it, they played strange, Microsoft-screensaver-esque videos. I was unfortunately near the back of the crowd and often resorted to watching Kehlani through the phone of someone in front of me with exceptionally good camera quality.

Still, though I couldn't see well, I was able to enjoy Kehlani's angelic vocals. Their live singing was incredibly smooth and light, though the microphone quality did make their words a little fuzzy. Kehlani had a great stage presence and frequently interacted with the audience. They gave a shout-out to the future doctors in the audience, reminded all Hopkins students to prioritize their mental health and, at one point, they pulled an audience member on stage for "wish i never" after noticing she knew the lyrics to every song.

Though I loved the energy the old-school, hip-hop beat of "wish i never" brought to the concert and Kehlani's slowed-down, sultry performance of "Honey," I was admittedly disappointed by the setlist. I had been looking forward to seeing them perform "Good Thing" and "up at night" - Kehlani's songs with Zedd and Bieber, respectively - but they were noticeably absent from the concert. However, I still sang along to songs like "Ring" with my friends, had a nice time and felt a little sad when the show was over.

Kehlani was great, but, in my opinion, if you're going to cram over 1,000 people into a gym for a concert, the energy of the crowd has to be engrossing enough that you forget you're standing on a basketball court. Maybe Kehlani's show was earth-shattering for the people near the front or the die-hard fans, but I think, for the average Spring Fair Concert attendee, it was just okay.

Kehlani has a beautiful voice, and they're a great live performer, but their songs tend to be on the slower side. Tracks like "Gangsta," though trap-flavored, don't inspire the audience to do much but sway back and forth. There's nothing wrong with that - I would love to attend one of their shows at a nicer venue. However, if Hopkins is going to continue holding the Spring Fair Concert in the Rec Center, I would vote for an artist with a more energizing discography to be the headliner next year. And, if I attend in 2024, I'll make sure to wear platform shoes.


The lethargic crowd and odd setting of the Kehlani concert made it difficult to enjoy their music.

<![CDATA[Students make do with downsized Spring Fair in rainy weather]]> The University held its 52nd Annual Spring Fair from April 27 to April 30. This year's Spring Fair, following the precedent set by the previous two years, was planned by the Office of Leadership Engagement and Experiential Development (LEED) in collaboration with Hopkins Student Organization for Programming (HOP).

The Spring Fair commenced with the Culture Show on Thursday, which showcased 12 different student groups. Following the show, students gathered in front of the Beach to watch the fireworks, while others watched from the comfort of their homes.

In an interview with The News-Letter, senior Anthony Garcia described his experience watching the fireworks with his friends on the rooftop of his apartment.

"All of us went up there to see it and it was a perfect view all the way down to the harbor. You can see the fireworks perfectly from there," he said. "It was good fun and chill vibes for the start of Spring Fair."

The Friday weather temporarily disrupted the Spring Fair vibes, as the thunderstorm forced the University to cancel Carnival Day at Keyser Quad and postpone the opening of the Arts Marketplace. Sunday's weather was similar, canceling planned events such as Farm Day and the petting zoo. Homewood United for Music was the only exception to the series of cancelations as their Spring Fair Concert was successfully moved indoors into Bloomberg.

In an email to The News-Letter, Calvin Smith, Senior Director of LEED, explained the planning process for the Spring Fair.

"The LEED office works for about six months contacting vendors for the Food Court and the Arts Marketplace attending festivals, and contacting previous vendors to ensure we have a broad variety for students and community members to choose from," he wrote.

As a result, Spring fair saw a wide variety of food trucks and featured a selection of local vendors selling funnel cake, lemonade, turkey legs, Thai food, Ekiben and more.

Junior Ujvala Pradeep, a student who lined up at the food trucks in the rain on Friday, expressed her excitement at having the opportunity to eat from Ekiben in an interview with The News-Letter.

"I haven't been out in the past three days because the weather has been mid, but today's weather was even worse than yesterday, so that's on me. But I was excited when I heard there's an Ekiben food truck on campus because they are really far and they don't have Doordash," she said. "I am very pumped to eat my Tofu Brah Bowl!"

However, the food vendors closed down on Saturday night, one day before the originally planned date. Smith explained this decision.

"We worked with the vendors to determine whether or not they wanted to continue in the rain. Friday, we had our vendors open most of the day," he wrote. "Based on our conversations with the vendors and Student Affairs leadership, we decided to cancel the day on Sunday."

Saturday was the only day of the weekend that offered good weather. Students took advantage of the sun and enjoyed live music performances on the Beach organized by WJHU radio.

In an interview with The News-Letter, senior Alexis Choi shared her positive experience with the Spring Fair.

"It's really fun. I just got food and bubble tea at the food vendors and then we went to the Arts Market," she said. "I like that there are people vibing on the Beach together. [It's] good vibes, and the bubbles are a nice touch."

Junior Stephen Ha echoed similar feelings but also noted the inconvenience of certain campus facilities being occupied.

"The food is really great, and the live music is really awesome. Even if you are in [Brody Learning Commons], you can still hear it, which is nice," he said in an interview with The News-Letter. "I just wish the basketball courts were still open. "

Due to the weather, this year's Spring Fair faced various challenges. Nevertheless, students embraced the opportunity to take a break from work.

Overall, Smith expressed a desire to further grow the Spring Fair in the future, citing it as an important Hopkins tradition.

"We hope to give students and community members a fantastic tradition they can look forward to every year, to bring student and community member talents for our campus to engage with and to provide a space for our students, who work so hard, to relax at the end of the semester," he wrote.


Students savored local food in outdoor seatings.

<![CDATA[Music, dance and heritage on display in 2023 Culture Show]]> The first night of Culture Show has always been one of my favorite days of the semester. As the semester winds down, that familiar, heady mix of exam stress, despair and sleep deprivation begins to set in. And yet, the Culture Show never fails to make me forget all of that. For two electric hours, I'm completely absorbed in seeing what all the incredible cultural groups on campus have spent the semester preparing, learning about different styles of music and dance and being humbled by Hopkins students' commitment to carrying tradition forward into our campus today.

As I took my seat in Shriver Hall, I was amazed at how many people were there on a Thursday night on the last week of classes. It was more students than I'd ever seen in Shriver Hall before, and the crowd was buzzing. Presented by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the theme for this year was "Waves Unbroken." As the lights dimmed, the sound of waves breaking on the shore filled the auditorium. A little ironic, considering the night's theme, but I enjoyed the soundscape.

The first group on stage was the Yong Han Lion Dance Troupe, telling the story of three lions fighting against two human warriors. The lions were fantastic, a fun combination of sparkly, humorous and menacing. The two warrior characters were incredible martial artists, twirling staffs and contorting their bodies into flips. The female warrior wielded her staff so fiercely that splinters and chunks of wood flew off whenever it struck the ground. It was a wonderful visual spectacle and a piece of storytelling that really set the tone for the rest of the night.

There were three different acapella groups that performed in the first act. The first of these, the Melanotes, specialize in music of the African diaspora and African American tradition. They sang one slower song with beautiful, warm tones and tight harmonies. It was beautiful, and as I listened, I settled down into my seat and felt my shoulders relax. Their second song was more modern and upbeat, with sweet high harmonies from the group of three soloists.

The second acapella group was Adoremus, the Christian-interest group, who sang a rendition of "The Prayer" by Andrea Bocelli. The third acapella group was the Humming Jays, the Korean-interest group, who sang a pair of songs, one from Korean pop music and another from Western pop music.

This first act also contained two dance performances, the first from JOSH, the female and non-binary Bollywood fusion dance team. Their set was based on the movie Ocean's 8, portraying a jewelry heist through dance.

The second dance performance was by a crowd-favorite group, Temps D'Afrique (TDA), the African dance team. They performed a set that showcased the different eras of Afrobeat music. In the performance, one dancer played a no-nonsense teacher character, while the rest played a group of schoolchildren.

I loved this setup because it gave a chance for TDA to explain past styles through the teacher's mouth, while the schoolchildren added banter, playfulness and a modern style. I'd never really listened to Afrobeat before, but after hearing it and seeing how much fun the performers were having with the dances, it's definitely going on my daily Spotify rotation.

During the intermission, there was a performance by two drag queens, Elektra G and Stealya-Manz Blue. The crowd loved them, as they came off the stage to interact with members of the audience. Aside from just being a lot of fun, it was a nice way to bring queer culture into the show, a reminder that culture can be much broader than just heritage.

After the interlude, the Indian classical dance team Shakti performed a set that told the story of the birth of Krishna. This set was one of the more serious in tone that night and was technically superb. The combination of the candlelight and the sound of the bells that they wore transported me to another time and place. In that atmosphere, they acted out the story elegantly and dramatically. The audience was utterly entranced, and the fluidity of the dancers' movements in and out of geometric patterns elicited genuine awe from the crowd.

There was a dramatic change in tone with the next performance from ¡Baila!, the beautiful and stunning Latin dance group. This performance included the dance styles salsa, samba, cha-cha and reggaeton. Some parts of the performance showcased couples and other huge ensembles, but there was a festive sense of community and connection throughout it all. The crowd was singing and clapping along to the music, and I wanted nothing more than to get out of my seat and dance along.

After the dance performance, the Gospel Choir came on stage. From the first note they sang, the power of their voices blew everyone away. It was noticeably different than any of the other singing groups that night, filling the hall with sound and joy. The piano accompanist was also fantastic. When they finished, they earned the only standing ovation of the night.

This was followed by another change in pace with a performance from the Lan Yun Blue Orchids, the Chinese classical dance group. This set featured dances with slower, flowing movements. Some of their dancers used traditional Chinese round fans to cover their faces and add flourishes to their movements with classical elegance.

The penultimate performance was from Kranti, the South Asian fusion acapella team. They performed two songs, with each song consisting of a matched pair of South Asian and Western music. The soloists were great, and the South Asian parts were especially skillfully performed, weaving through intricate vocal lines with crystal clarity.

And finally, the Culture Show ended with a dance set from the ever-popular Blue Jay Bhangra, showing off Punjabi culture. They came on with a bang (literally), energetically moving across the stage while flourishing their Sapps. Set to modern music with a pumping bass, the whole set was a feast for the eyes and ears. The staffs, the sound of the Sapps and the dancers in vibrant coloured dresses leaping and beaming on the stage created a dazzling experience.

After Blue Jay Bhangra's performance, the audience rapidly filed out of Shriver Hall to catch the firework show. Elektra G and Stealya-Manz Blue came back to give a final performance, but unfortunately, very few people stuck around to watch. I felt guilty about leaving early, but everyone else was doing it and the prospect of missing the firework show was just too much.

The culture show was a huge success. I think that when a lot of immigrants come to America, they worry that their children will become disconnected from the culture that they grew up with. But if they came to the show in Shriver Hall that night, they would realize that cultural heritage is alive and well in young people today. In every performance, I saw the performers show incredible passion and take ownership of their cultural backgrounds.

Many of the groups had performers from both within and outside of those cultures, showing that people are interested and passionate in taking part in unfamiliar traditions. I was definitely taken on a journey that night and got to learn so much about the world, as well as see all the incredible diversity and talent that our student body has to offer. I'd definitely recommend attending the Culture Show every year, it's guaranteed to be a good time!


Blue Jay Bhangra shares Bhangra and Punjabi culture at the annual Culture Show.

<![CDATA[Filipe Campante discusses the implication of Lula's win on Brazil's political economy ]]> The Brazilian Students Organization (BRASA) hosted Dr. Filipe Campante, a Bloomberg distinguished professor at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and the Carey Business School, on April 26 for a discussion on the political and economic implications of the October 2022 presidential election in Brazil.

In an interview with The News-Letter, President of BRASA junior Victor Aldridge expressed that he hoped that attendees would be able to gain a better understanding of Brazilian politics and economics through the lecture.

"There's a large Brazilian constituency here at Hopkins but there's not a lot of visibility," he said. "Brazil is one of the biggest economies in the world, so [BRASA] wanted to bring some level of knowledge or information [about Brazil] to people in the Hopkins community."

Sophomore Eric Zixu Wang gave similar reasons for attending the event in an interview with The News-Letter.

"I'm interested in learning about the implications [of the next presidential election] on the international political economy and the future of Brazil as related to globalization," he said.

Campante opened his lecture by emphasizing why the October 2022 election is an important case study in understanding global trends in politics.

"Brazil exemplifies certain patterns and recent trends that relate to some of the things we're seeing in the U.S., and it's very important to recognize some of these common trends and try to think about what may lie behind these processes, but also what the idiosyncrasies of each specific case are," he said.

In what was described as the closest election in Brazil's democratic history, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known popularly as Lula, defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro with a slim majority of 50.9% of the vote. Campante highlighted how both candidates reflected border trends in polarization. He stated that Bolsonaro's political platform exemplifies recent trends in right-wing populism, while Lula, a member of the Workers' Party, reflects the state of Brazilian left-wing politics.

Lula, who previously served as the 35th president of Brazil, left office in 2010 as the most popular president in Brazilian democratic history. However, in July 2017, he was convicted on charges of money laundering and corruption in a controversial trial. The case was later nullified in April 2021.

On the other hand, Campante described Bolsonaro as the "Brazilian Trump." After pre-election polls stated that Lula had an advantage, Bolsonaro made multiple accusations of electoral fraud. After losing the election, on Jan. 8 2023, his supporters stormed several federal government buildings in the capital Brasília. Bolsonaro eventually condemned the protestors but did not take any responsibility for their actions.

Campante reflected on the events of this insurrection and its implications for the future of Brazilian democracy.

"The risk [for democracy] has subsided at least for the immediate term because of the failure of the Jan. 8 coup attempt. [However], the fundamental political instability has not," Campante said, "There is an underlying concern that Lula may not reach the end of his term, not through some sort of coup, but through impeachment."

Speaking on the role of the military in Brazil, Campante revealed that the lasting effects of the Jan. 8 coup attempt have created a landscape of uncertainty within the country. He spoke about how this state of uncertainty can have negative effects on the economy.

"It's important to keep in mind as a general principle for economic policy analysis that the fact that certain things don't happen doesn't mean they are not affecting [people's decisions]," he said. "The whole spectrum of things that are possible affect how people behave and may lead us into situations where those threats don't materialize or we may end up in situations that are worse than they would have been if the underlying fragility wasn't present."

In an interview with The News-Letter, junior Allison Lorentz reflected on what she learned at the event, identifying the political implications of the Jan. 8 coup as particularly engaging.

"It was really interesting that he mentioned the uncertainty of future possibilities and how that impacts current decision-making, especially with the threat of Lula's impeachment," she said.

Looking toward the future, Campante discussed predictions for the upcoming Brazilian election in 2026.

"I don't think Bolsonaro himself will run. Lula is the one individual who has the highest probability of being President next time. If he's around, he's going to run again, because who else is going to run?" he said. "But the bigger question is the [election] after that where he's constitutionally barred from running as you can't have more than two consecutive terms."

<![CDATA[Finding my voice through the silver linings of life ]]>

When I was younger, I was always known as someone with a "quiet voice." I tended to be shy and let others speak for me, preferring to hang in the background and let my achievements shine through. However, this was not an attribute that I particularly liked about myself. I strove to break through those bounds and find other avenues to make my voice heard as I entered high school. I joined debate, the school newspaper and took on leadership roles to force myself out of my comfort zone and get used to public speaking.

Then, I came to Hopkins and continued to seek opportunities to do so. Among all these experiences, I don't think I truly found my "voice" until I joined The News-Letter at Hopkins.

I've always preferred structure - something that has pulled me toward journalism and away from creative writing. I preferred to use my writing skills in service of others, to inform and educate rather than ruminate on my own emotions. I liked the rhythm of news writing, the formulaic structure of a story that allowed for different pieces to come together. But it wasn't until I started this column that I began to experiment with my "voice" and start writing for myself instead.

When I started this column, I intended to use this space as an outlet for me to muddle through my messy emotions and experiences throughout quarantine. Back then, I longed to be on campus with my friends at Hopkins as I was left to lament the college experience that I was missing. But soon, I found solace by looking for the silver linings of the grim period created by the pandemic.

I captured the renewed spark of my fitness journey, the grievances of a nocturnal schedule and more random topics during my sophomore year. Over time, my column evolved to capture more moments of growth throughout my college career. It became a place for me to reflect on random experiences and inspired deeper bouts of reflection.

Writing this column never felt like an obligation to me but a calling and opportunity to immortalize my thoughts. Random musings throughout the day, spiraling thoughts during overwhelming times or painful emotions were jotted down in Google Docs and Notes, some turning into coherent columns to be published while others simply remained ideas, passing contemplations that marked versions of my mind at different stages in life.

However, as the end of another milestone draws near and the future unfolds, it seems that my emotions have been more focused and increasingly concentrated, building upon one another and reaching a crescendo throughout the past few months. Feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality have consumed me, overpowering my excitement and anticipation for the future. Every day I wake up, and I'm immediately hit with a wave of melancholy. And every day, I push those feelings aside and replace them with my stress for the tasks to accomplish that day.

Usually, when those emotions enter, I fill my time with responsibilities to avoid the spiral, or I turn my thoughts into something productive, like a piece for this column. It's a balancing act: feeling the need to pen my feelings down but also running away from the sadness that accompanies reflection.

But over spring break, I went on a cruise with my friends. Spending a few carefree days at sea disconnected from the world between cruise stops gave me the much-needed time to write a little and start wading through the pools of my emotions that had been storming inside my head. Staring at the endless blue horizon with the varying shades as the only thing separating ocean and sky gave me a semblance of peace for a moment.

I take a deep breath and try, once again, to focus on the silver linings of this closing chapter in my life. Instead of feeling despair for the friends and memories I will be leaving behind at Hopkins, I focus on the immense gratitude I feel. Grateful to have made such special friendships along the way. Grateful to have had the stars align to go on so many trips this past semester and be on that cruise over spring break. Grateful for all the opportunities that Hopkins provided me with in preparation for the next journey in my career and life. Grateful for this corner of The News-Letter to explore new kinds of writing.

No longer am I that quiet girl who always had to be told to speak up. I now see how much I have grown through the numerous articles I've written, the opportunities I've worked for and secured, and the adventures and friendships I've cultivated here.

I'm thankful to have had this column to mark my growth throughout my time at Hopkins and to give that little girl the space to find her voice. Though journalism will no longer be at the forefront of my work for the time being - a reality that I have come to accept - I aim to bring my passion for writing along with me. Looking toward the horizon, I can only hope to find a new home for the voice inside my head in the next chapter of my life beyond college.

Michelle Limpe is a senior from the Philippines studying Chemistry and Public Health. She is a former Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor and News & Features Editor for The News-Letter.


Limpe reflects on personal growth and finding peace in life's silver linings.

<![CDATA[My journey with transportation infrastructure]]>

Growing up on the outskirts of Washington D.C., one of my favorite spots as a child was a bridge near my house that overlooked the trains rushing to and from our nation's capital. Watching them with my grandparents was exciting for a five-year-old whose television habits involved Thomas the Tank Engine, Cars and other animated shows starring transportation. And so, my interests as a five-year-old included playing with a train set that I had at home, consciously observing bus and rail services, and reading books about our nation's infrastructure and locomotives.

However, that interest took a back seat when I became inundated by the "cool" factor of space exploration and computer science, and my interests in trains and buses faded away almost entirely.

My high school commute was atypical for a student in the Washington Metropolitan Area. I didn't take a car to campus and didn't have a license either. My parents often worked long hours that prevented them from bringing me to and from my school, extracurriculars and home. The only solution? Public transportation.

Simply put, my commute to and from my extracurriculars was hectic. Often, it involved multiple modes of transportation: the Metrorail; my county's bus service, Ride On; D.C.'s Metrobus; and the Bethesda Circulator, a regional shuttle service. However, navigating these systems as a high school student was challenging, as I had to be conscious of where and how these services operated. Living on the outskirts of D.C. exposed me to various roads, bridges and other map features, and, as a result, I developed a strong sense of direction. Accordingly, at first, I thought I was capable of getting around independently. I couldn't have been more wrong. The bus and rail systems had conditions and nuances that made commuting more difficult than it needed to be. What were peak and off-peak times? If any, what were the cost savings involved in transferring between services? What was the express service, and did students have to pay? These were all questions I had to ask myself because failure to understand them would result in both the lengthening of my commute by a significant amount of time and a sharp increase in the amount of money I had to spend.

Ultimately, my daily commutes resulted in my growing comprehension of the design choices involved with transportation infrastructure. Peak and off-peak times were designed to manage the influx of people during rush hour, and their respective prices were adjusted to maximize revenue stream. Transfer discounts were designed to encourage people to use buses rather than their cars. Express services were designed to supplement existing lines by providing riders an alternative to get to places quicker, sometimes at a premium.

Further, my fascination with political science encouraged me to understand the planning and funding of these services on a government level. Downtime while riding public transportation often meant reading articles about designs for new infrastructure services, the bickering involved with financing and route planning, and the efforts by regional leaders trying to make infrastructure more accessible to low-income populations, especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Suffice to say, there are a lot of factors that go into transportation from an engineering and socioeconomic perspective, many of which I was completely unaware of before being immersed in D.C.'s public transportation systems.

Fast forward to when the pandemic hit. I no longer had the opportunity to take the bus and train. However, as a high school senior with nothing to do, I decided to take up biking, a hobby I've written about previously. That was when I encountered a piece of transportation that we often overlook: bike trails and foot trails. Bike trails are interesting because their planning often is in the scope of recreation, but they also offer another option for daily commutes. In my case, I commuted from D.C. via bike for an internship one summer. The route involved the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, a relic converted into a 180-mile, hiker-biker trail. Though old, the isolated trail enabled me to take a break from city life as I was greeted by breathtaking landscapes along the Potomac River and occasionally accompanied by great blue herons soaring next to me. Like the public transportation infrastructure mentioned above, the trails involve planning that often goes overlooked. For instance, many of the trails in the D.C. region are known as "Rails-to-Trails," referring to the conversion of old rail lines into bike paths. Bike trails can also be created in the form of closing roads, much to the dismay of drivers. But closed roads also provide benefits for citizens to enjoy the outdoors during the weekend without the need to build additional trails. I never expected recreational transportation infrastructure could be so complex.

Fundamentally, infrastructure is the art of designing systems that move people. It involves adapting to human traffic (due to work or otherwise) as well as adjusting prices to maximize revenue streams to fund new transportation projects. My encounter with the numerous transportation systems around our nation's capital has enabled me to appreciate the factors and considerations involved in planning modes. Today, a bike, bus or rail ride is no longer just a means to get home but also an experience to appreciate how these systems are designed to move people efficiently.

Jonathan Young is a junior from Potomac, Md., studying Computer Engineering. His column is about the nontraditional activities or events that have shaped him into the person he is today.


Young expresses how growing up in the Washington D.C. area influenced his relationship with public transportation.

<![CDATA[Events this summer (May - September)]]> We made it, Blue Jays! Classes have ended, and summer is just around the corner. For some of us, that means leaving Baltimore for a few months. For others, though, it means even more leisure time in this lovely city! If you're sticking around over the next few months, check out these events in Baltimore.

Summer approaching means some changes at The News-Letter, too. I've had a great semester as Leisure Editor, and I hope you've all enjoyed the content from our wonderful writers this year. I'm graduating in May, and with that comes the end of my four years at The News-Letter. As bittersweet as this is, I couldn't be leaving the Leisure section in better hands! Next year, thank the new Leisure Editor, Mingyuan Song, for all the exciting Leisure content that will be coming your way. Have a good summer, everyone!

All summer

Pratt Street Market, May 4 - Sept. 28 at 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

The Pratt Street Market is going to be open every Thursday from May 4 to Sept. 28! Stop by between with friends and co-workers to grab lunch from the food vendors, which change from weekly.


Mount Vernon Place Flower Mart, May 5 - 6 at 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Take some time during reading period to head to the Mount Vernon Flower Mart! There will be flower vendors, food and drink vendors, and live entertainment in Mount Vernon. Make sure to stop by the beautiful market if you can! Check out the full schedule here.

Charm City Bluegrass Festival, May 5 at 3 - 11 p.m. and May 6 at 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Hosted by Union Craft Brewing in Hampden, the Charm City Bluegrass Festival is taking place over two days in May! To celebrate bluegrass and roots music in Baltimore, enjoy a variety of performances as well as the variety of food and drinks available for purchase. Buy tickets for $59 - 169.

Free Waterfront Fitness Classes, beginning May 16

Registration for free fitness classes on Baltimore's Waterfront opens on May 1, with classes beginning on May 16! Sign up here to get notified when sign-ups are available.


Baltimore 10 Miler, June 3 at 7 a.m.

The Baltimore 10 Miler runs right through Hopkins and Charles Village. The race starts at the Maryland Zoo, runs through the south gate of campus and goes to Lake Montebello and back. It is a beautiful course and a great way to see Charm City. But if 10 miles is too far, you can always cheer on the runners or volunteer with the race team!

Baltimore Vintage Expo, June 4 at 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

This year's Baltimore Vintage Expo is being held at the Union Collective. Though it's free to attend, early bird tickets, which allow entrance at 9a.m., two hours before the public, can be purchased here for $20. The expo, hosted by Milk & Ice Vintage and Bottle of Bread, will feature vintage and antique clothing, furniture and more from a variety of vendors.

Baltimore Pride, June 19 - 25

A tradition in Baltimore since 1975, Baltimore Pride is a celebration consisting of the Baltimore Pride Parade, Pride Block Party and many other events all around the city. This year, the parade is taking place on June 24 from 1 - 3 p.m. Find out more about all of the events here!


4th of July Celebration, July 4

Baltimore hosts one of the best 4th of July celebrations in the state of Maryland! There is always live music and food propping up the festivities in Inner Harbor, and the U.S. Navy Band usually starts their show at 7 p.m. And, of course, there are fireworks. Grab yourself a seat on Federal Hill and watch the festivities blossom in front of you!

Summer Restaurant Week, July 21 - 30

Restaurant Week returns to Baltimore this summer at the end of July. You can get a five-course meal for much cheaper than usual, so it's a good time to explore the different options around town! Check out The News-Letter's interactive food map for some suggestions.

That's it for our recommendations on what to do for your summer in Baltimore. I am very honored to be taking over the Leisure Editor post from Leela and am excited to see what we can do in this column in the next school year. Have a great summer everyone!


Staying in Baltimore for the summer? Check out our recommendations for the best things to do!