The Minority Recruitment Team consists of student interns who work to increase the matriculation of students of color, first-generation, and low-income prospective high school students. Representing Brown’s Office of Admissions, Minority Recruitment Interns organize student of color open houses, google hangouts, and tours geared toured community-based organizations (Quest Bridge, IDEA, Trio, etc.). Their voices are an essential part of not only making sure minority students are represented in the University’s recruitment process, but also emphasizing the resources and support Brown has for minority students once they arrive on campus.
Brown Admissions hopes to shine light on all the great work our Minority Recruitment Team does in pushing the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. We are thus featuring story profiles on each of the interns. Interns discuss their personal stories navigating the college admissions process, what being a Minority Recruitment Intern means to them, what opportunities and challenges they have had here at Brown, and pieces of advice for prospective students who may be intimidated by the application process. We hope that these stories will resonate with prospective students and help them understand that the resources that Brown Admissions has to offer in facilitating their application process, and there is a place of support and community for them here at Brown.
Story by Lauren Shin ’19
“After finding support networks at Brown, I started to actually feel as if I belong here and realize that even if this institution was not initially built for me, I can still make it my home”
Linda Medina ’18 is currently a Junior double concentrating in Public Policy and Ethnic Studies. She is one of four Minority Recruitment Interns, and says that her work as an Intern has been really connected to her personal experience adjusting to Brown as a first-generation college student.
“I hail from a Colombian Immigrant household, and from that household I am the first person to attend college. I came from a predominately Latinx high school where most people receive free lunch-we were in a very largely publicly funded high school in New York City. And coming from that and transitioning into Brown was especially hard for me. It was a culture shock. I was never in a class with people who weren’t all from the same ethnicity as me. And at the same time it felt as if I had to catch up with everyone else around me. It was a challenge but it is also something that many students relate to. Once they come here they are always comparing themselves to others like, ‘Oh, I’m not as smart as them’.
However, after finding spaces of support at Brown that have really helped her come to terms with her identity, Linda has really secured a path for herself that allows her to pursue her academic passions, despite the initial challenges she faced arriving to campus. She specifically talks about how building relationships with professors really helped her realize that Brown was the best place for her to succeed. In Fall semester 2016, Linda took “Immigration Policy: The Imaginaries with Race, Space, and Nation,” with Professor Yalidy Matos, whose research mainly focuses on the intersection of politics with race, ethnicity, and immigration. Linda was able to build a strong relationship with a professor who hailed from a very similar community as she did.
“Professor Matos is a Dominican-Latina woman, and the fact that she was willing to talk to me about how I felt was really significant. I still had insecurities my sophomore year. I went to speak to her about my writing skills, because that was something I was always concerned about since I was predominately taking classes in the social sciences and humanities. I didn’t have a strong background in English or even writing in general. It got to the point I was concerned about even writing emails. So I approached her and told her about what I was going through, and she was able to relate to me in many ways because she also came from a low-income neighborhood. But then she went to college and got her PhD. She went through the same motions I did. It was the first time I spoke to a professor who actually looked like me and understood where I was coming from. Being able to talk to a professor and receive affirmation was something I never felt or experienced before. It made me feel that Brown was really the place for me.”
Linda worked as a research assistant for Professor Matos in studying the criminalization of immigrants, a topic that Linda cares deeply about due to how anti-immigration laws have affected her family. Her pursuit of a double concentration in Public Policy and Immigration speaks to her larger interest in immigration rights and research. You can learn more about Professor Matos and her work here.
“After finding support networks at Brown, I started to actually feel as if I belong here and realize that even if this institution was not initially built for me, I can still make it my home. I can also even try to still create an environment where students who hail from similar communities as I do don’t have to come in initially with that fear or insecurity and feel welcomed.”
In the process of building a path for herself despite the initial challenges, Linda now feels empowered as a Minority Recruitment Intern to build the same path for others that is more accessible for minority students.
“Representation matters, but it’s not just representation. It’s also having an inclusive atmosphere that really takes into account how student of color voices matter. Our job is to make sure that students of color throughout the United States know that Brown is an option that’s viable. As Minority Recruitment Interns, we give tours to community-based organizations that low-income and first-generation students prepare for the college application process. We establish relationships with these organizations through campus tours and google hangouts. We also talk about our experiences at Brown, both the positive aspects and the parts where you are bound to face challenges here. It is a way to make them feel that they are not alone because we want to make sure where we build a community and fight off that stigma of being a first-gen at Brown.”
Linda specifically talks about how personally connecting with prospective students and their insecurities have really made her feel she was making a difference as a Minority Recruitment Intern, as often these students were in the same exact position she was in tackling the application process.
“A girl approached me after the tour and told me her insecurities. She was in high school and her family members have never gone to college and she was saying that nobody in her high school has never gone to a four-year institution. Even though she wanted to attain that higher degree, she was really scared because nobody else could do it, so why would she? And at that instance I really resonated with that prospective student who was speaking to me, because I went through the same motions. I never had anyone helping me through this college process and the fact that this student was insecure he could even make it to a four-year institution was something that placed me back to where I was in high school. I just told her that applying, just applying, is a big leap in your future and in your family’s future. Applying is so important even though you might think it is way beyond your ability to get in, but you will always live with that regret of never trying. I never thought that I was going to be at Brown but I realized that I didn’t want my fears to stop me from pursuing my dreams. It was just powerful being there for someone who now had someone else to confide in about their insecurities.”
Having come a long way from her predominately Latinx community in New York, Linda has not only found a place of belonging at Brown, but has also made significant strides in making sure that prospective students who are now facing the same challenges as she did are aware of the available resources. Linda strongly encourages prospective students who think that an institution such as Brown is out of their reach to have more faith in themselves, as the action of just applying is still such an important step in pursuit of their goals and dreams.
“The admissions process is stressful because you’re just given a bundle of choices and you don’t know what to do exactly. Just have faith in yourself, even if you are going through this whole process alone, which is something I went through myself. What kept me going is that it’s not just me entering into this space of college, it’s actually much larger than myself. It means that later on once I get a degree, once I graduate, whatever career goal I pursue, I remember the roots I come from and I remember that there are still communities out there that aren’t given these opportunities to even attend college. Knowing that I went through these loopholes just to get here, I can make sure that other students of color who are going through similar challenges and don’t know about these opportunities are more informed. I can, in some sense, serve as a bridge between Brown and these communities that are in this unexplored space.”