Student Highlight: Ting Xia ’17

Hi there! 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.

Name: Ting Xia

Hometown: Wuhan, China

Concentration: Computer Science

What classes are you taking this semester? Mind and Brain: Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (CLPS 0040), Distributed Computer Systems (CSCI 1380), Introduction to Computer Systems Security (CSCI 1660), Internet of Everything (ENGN 0931).

Favorite class thus far? That’s difficult to pick, as I’ve enjoyed most of my classes here! But if I were to recommend one to a freshman, I’d say Belonging and Displacement: Cross-Cultural Identities (POBS 0810) with Professor Patricia Sobral. She is one of the most caring professors I’ve had at Brown who created a safe space for her students to draw on their personal experiences in a class that discussed 20th-century immigrant literature. As a first-year seminar, the class was well-aided by hands-on projects and creative non-fiction writing assignments.

What do you do on or off campus? I’ve volunteered to give hand massages at the cancer center of Rhode Island Hospital since freshman year. Every week, I go to the radiation center of the cancer department and offer hand massages to patients and their family members in the waiting rooms. It gives me an opportunity to get to know the community outside of Brown and to serve it in ways that I can.

Favorite place/ study spot? Orwig Library. It’s beautiful and quiet. It also has a piano room downstairs, so I can just grab some sheet music and spend an entire afternoon there if I want to!

Favorite Brown memory or experience?  I went to a talk my freshman year given by a doctor with careers as both a medical professional and a pianist. He also gave a piano performance too! Earlier last week, I went to a bar in downtown Providence where there were some jazz musicians playing, and later found out that the saxophonist is a physics professor at Brown. Instances like these have affirmed my desire to hold onto multiple passions simultaneously.

Why Brown? The Open Curriculum embraces the idea that nobody should be deterred from studying something from fear of not succeeding. I didn’t realize how much I took this for granted until I saw how students at other universities constantly worried about maintaining high GPAs just to be allowed to study certain majors. During the past four years, I’ve taken classes of which I had no prior knowledge (on Brazilian History, Music Theory, Foundation Arts, Contemporary Philosophy, and Cognitive Science, just to name a few!) and fell in love with so many of those, including Computer Science. I wouldn’t have taken a Computer Science course, let alone concentrated in the subject, had the Open Curriculum not be designed to encourage students to step out of their comfort zone and to stretch their intellectual potential.

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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