RUE Stories: Veteran Tristan Hood

Brown University Resumed Undergraduate Education Program (RUE) is a small and highly competitive program for students who interrupted or delayed their formal education due to family commitments, financial concerns, health issues, military service, employment opportunities, or other compelling explorations of different paths. Just like traditional undergrads, RUE students take advantage of the flexibility found within Brown’s open curriculum and earn a bachelor’s degree (A.B or Sc.B) by the time of their graduation . Students who come to Brown through the RUE program epitomize the incredible diversity found within campus. To illustrate the diversity of this community, Brown Undergraduate Admissions is featuring stories of individual RUE students. We hope that their stories and the opportunities they have had here at Brown will resonate and encourage those who digressed from traditional paths, and provide a powerful community open to those very individuals.

Story by Lauren Shin


Tristan Hood came to Brown last fall to concentrate in Economics and Political Science. Before Brown, he served in the air force for four years, did two tours in Iraq, and worked for a civilian company in Afghanistan. He is one of many of Veterans who have come through the Brown RUE program, and his time serving the military set up his current academic interests.

“While I was out there, I kind of changed my mind and realized I didn’t want to be there anymore. So I talked to my family and explained that I wanted to come home, but my dad and I were talking and my dad was like, ‘well, you don’t walk out on a contract.’ so he decided to send me books…the books were really what set the nail in the coffin for me to leave the Middle East and go to school”

Tristan ended up receiving books that provided him the entire scope of political philosophy. He decided to enroll in community college to pursue these studies, until his friends and family encouraged him to take his education even further.

“My friend told me about the RUE program and told me that it was specifically designed for students to take an alternate life after high school. I talked to Peter Newcomb, the head director of RUE, and Karen, the head of commissions of office. I was so surprised in how encouraging and supportive they were of me giving the RUE program a shot, and how much they emphasized that the program was right for me.”


Tristan at first was very doubtful that he had the chance to attend a high-level institution such as Brown. But the moment he gave it a shot, his acceptance letter changed his whole mentality in what he could achieve. RUE gave him the opportunity as a non-traditional student to get to a school he may or may not have been able to get to originally.

“Brown opened up what I thought were ceilings. The moment I got accepted to Brown, it broke the mentality I had that was like, ‘guys like me don’t get to go to schools like that.’ It’s always been like…you go where you’re from. If you’re from the South, you go to the South. That’s just how it works. But when I gave it a shot, I realized that I can really push my limits.”

Tristan speaks highly of the diversity of students within RUE as well. While there are several veterans like Tristan, he has also connected with people who were in the circus, a man from an Indigenous tribe in Ecuador, and a French soccer player. And despite all of these diverse students with all these diverse backgrounds and interests, what makes the RUE program so special is its sense of community.


“One of the most intimidating parts of a program like this is fear, the fear of not being able to assimilate into this type of community. But the RUE program offers me a community in which everyone feels the same way…we come from so many different backgrounds that when we take ourselves a whole, in my own opinion, we represent what is the best that is Brown. This is the pinnacle of what Brown represents. All different races, sexualities, backgrounds, military/non-military, we are literally everything all bundled up into just about 30 students. And when we do get together, we can talk about almost anything, just because we’ve come from almost anything.”


And like any traditional undergrad student, Tristan is heavily involved outside the classroom. He is part of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Society, which has given him the opportunity to collaborate with Political Science professors and discuss different political topics such as inequality. He described it as having the intensity of a traditional course, but with absolute emphasis on the experience of pushing ideas rather than just receiving a grade. He is also president of Brown’s Veteran Society and hopes to encourage more veterans to apply to Brown’s RUE program, specifically reaching out to community colleges like his own. He explains that after service most veterans just go to community college since the thought of reaching a high-level institution such as Brown seems impossible. Tristan’s hope is to break apart these attitudes and show the veteran community that they are capable of achieving something so much more.

“It’s the sense of awareness that matters. Now there’s one little school in Florida that knows you can get to the Ivy League. That’s not an imprint on the world, but if we can get out there and let other community colleges know that this sky really is the limit.”

The opportunities RUE has really drove Tristan to reach for the best. After Brown, his next goal is to apply to dual programs in Law and Business. He strongly encourages people, specifically Veterans, to apply to RUE, to defy obstacles, and to push their limits.

The RUE Application is now live. To learn more about Brown University’s RUE program or to apply, click here.






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