Student Highlight: Madeline and Isabel Chin ’17

Madeline and Isabel
Madeline (left) and Isabel (right)

Hey guys! I’m Eimi (pronounced ‘Amy’) and I’m your correspondent for Student Highlight this year, a column dedicated to highlighting the scholars who attend this institution. While I’ve deduced that there’s no ‘typical’ Brown student, I hope to share a small glimpse into the wonderful and diverse individuals of this community.

Double trouble!

(They’re probably so sick of hearing that joke.)

Friends, welcome back! I completely forgot that my column was dormant for all of January and posted last week without a warm greeting. I apologize!

Eimi’s (relevant) life updates: my roommate from last semester is now abroad in Cuba and in a last-minute housing situation that had the potential of becoming a fiasco, I somehow managed to find a new roommate, Madeline. Turns out Madeline is also a PLME student (I’m realizing now that I know a strangely disproportionate number of PLMEs?) and has a twin, Isabel, who is also a PLME. Talk about killing 2 birds with one stone.

If I met Isabel and Madeline my freshman year, I would have easily said then that they are some of the nicest people I’ve met on campus. What makes them exceptional is the fact that Isabel, Madeline, and I are all juniors and that Madeline and I had to go through a tricky mid-year housing situation in which we had a very short amount of time to determine if our lifestyles were compatible enough to be housed together. Madeline was also abroad in Spain, which did not make circumstances easier since I had never met her! As a junior who’s 2 closest are currently abroad, I prepared myself somewhat to struggle socially my junior spring semester; while people at Brown are nice, students generally aren’t looking to make long-lasting friendships during their 3rd year when they have assumedly already established those relations. Madeline and Isabel have both been open to introducing me to their friends and spending time with them, which is really more than I could ask for. I am extremely grateful to have met these twins who externally and internally embody the light and warmth of the California sunshine.

Name: Madeline and Isabel Chin

Hometown: South Pasadena, CA

Concentration: Independent Concentration in Medical Humanities (Madeline), Public Health (Isabel) (both also 8-year PLME students)

What classes are you taking this semester? 

M: Organic Chemistry (CHEM 0350), Hispanic Culture Through Cinema (HISP 0710B), Gender, Race, and Medicine in the Americas (HIST 1977I), Introduction to Video Production: Critical Strategies and Histories (MCM 0730), Spiritual But Not Religious: Making Spirituality in America (RELS 0056)

I: Organic Chemistry (CHEM 0350), Environmental Law and Policy (ENVS 1410), Obesity in the 21st Century: Causes, Consequences, and Countermeasures (PHP 1600), The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Contested Narratives (UNIV 1001)

Favorite class thus far?  

M: I have two! Medical Humanities: Critical Perspectives on Illness, Healing, and Culture (ANTH 1305) with Professor Alice Nye is one of them. We explored how people make meaning out of experiences of illness and how they narrate those experiences. I really enjoyed how the curriculum analyzed those experiences through different mediums (graphic novels, ethnography, films, comedy sketches, perceptions and discussions within pop culture) and what kind of repercussions those may have. Modern Problems of Belief (RELS 0055) with Professor Mark Cladis is the other one. I took the course my freshman fall semester, which set the bar extremely high for my other classes to come for the rest of my undergraduate career! It was the type of class that I imagined I would be taking in college. I left every single lecture feeling enlightened. We read these really dense classics by Durkheim and Marx and Kierkegaard and Hegel, and he would have the most human explanation for these philosophers’ thoughts. He explained them so well and connected them to modern ideas of religion.

I: I agree, he’s a great lecturer. He makes these high, abstract philosophers feel very modern, accessible, and relevant. My favorite class though was Health of Hispaniola (PHP 0030) with Professor Timothy Empkie. Brown has this emphasis on being multidisciplinary, and this class was no exception; it covered so many topics within public health, law, environmental studies, history, international relations, pop culture, gender dynamics, sexuality, and more within the context of health in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It also had a diverse range of student perspectives in terms of concentration, which made the class interesting.

What do you do on or off campus? 

M: I’m part of the Ivy Film Festival, which is the largest student-run film festival in the world. It happens in the spring and during that week, there are tons of events like screenings, feature films, and industry guest panels and workshops. As industry coordinator, I contact studios and people in the industry to promote the film festival. I’m back from a semester abroad in Granada, Spain, am a part of YAM, and also work at the front desk of the Nelson Fitness Center.

I: We both recently have become involved in Rhode Island Medical Navigators, where we work as patient advocates of a care team to help the homeless community navigate the healthcare system, achieve their health goals, and connect them to social resources. I did BOLT, which was a great start to sophomore year and I cannot recommend it enough. I’m also a research assistant for an emergency medical physician conducting a project looking at gender inequality and representation amongst emergency medicine positions. I too am back from a semester abroad in Cuba.

Favorite place on or around campus and favorite place study spot?

M: The Athenaeum, which is one of the oldest libraries in America. It is really cute and nice. I also like the RISD library. I want to start studying at the John Hay library, but pretty much anywhere pretty is a good study spot.

I: The Athenaeum is so underrated! I don’t go there enough. The RISD museum is also. To study, I like the Leung Gallery in Campus Center or the John Hay Library.

Favorite Brown memory or experience?  

M: When spring comes after a long winter. Being from California, we don’t experience this at home because we take the warmth for granted. But here, spring fever is really something. It’s exciting to go out onto the Main Green and see people playing frisbee or just lying down. Like this is what college looks like in the movies! Moments like that where I’m walking through the green and the weather’s nice make me happy because I feel like I’m in this ideal, picture-perfect environment.

I: I definitely experience a lot of those typical college moments too where I realize that this is what college is supposed to be like! It’s surreal walking by tour groups and thinking that being a student here was something I wanted so badly at one point in my life. This is extremely nerdy, but I was in my physiology class one day, and my professor was talking about how neurons were sensitive, high-maintenance cells. He was using these gendered terms that sounded female, but this being Brown he wanted to make sure he was being inclusive and so asked the class what the male version of ‘prima donna’ was… and someone replied ‘Kanye.’ It was funny how pop culture and political correctness were fused together.

Why Brown? 

M: I mean, for reasons that many students choose to come to Brown. I was very into the flexibility of the Open Curriculum and creating an independent concentration. Also the fact that we’re both PLME and could study abroad was great.

I: Yeah, I can’t imagine having to take classes I don’t want to and doing things I don’t want to do. The flexibility is everything; I would never have enough time to do everything I want to do without it. It allows me to study things that otherwise would be occupied by requirements.

If you had one day to not be twins, what would happen?

I: I think less people would be confused? We share the same friends currently so maybe we’d have different friends and have our respective friend circles? That’s what I thought would happen coming into college but a lot of times when one of us gets to know someone and we get along with them, the other will get to know them and will probably get along with them too so it ends up working out. But we do approach things differently even though we have similarities.

M: We’re naturally drawn to the same thing so it can be hard to establish ourselves. But I was working at Nelson the other day and someone walked in and told me they recognized me, which was really strange because I didn’t. It worries me sometimes! Like am I being really rude? Do I just not remember this person? It’s scary. Luckily, the person was referring to Isabel and not me.

Know someone who should be featured or want to get in touch with a highlighted student? Send me an email at!


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