Kevin Cryan, from Southport, Connecticut. I'm a History major focusing in America and an Africana Studies double major. But I applied as an international studies major, so I can answer any and all questions about that as well. I also take French language courses! Seriously, ask me questions!!
It makes me feel all important and stuff when you ask me things, and in return I promise to answer your questions with all the love and detailed explanation I can muster.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------I chose Hopkins because
It's the school for me! Hopkins to me felt like the school I fell in love with first and then discovered the reasons why later. I took a tour at the end of my Junior year of high school, and I remember the precise moment when I knew I would apply here: It was right as we passed Levering hall, underneath a cherry tree. The tour guide stopped to explain something or another but I was looking down the quad, saw some student groups selling food and T-shirts at tables, and someone blasting "Poker face" behind them (This was back when Lady Gaga was all the rage.) I just remembered thinking, "This is exactly how I always thought college should feel."
I agonized over whether I would apply here Early Decision. There were a few schools that I was mulling over and even up through September they all seemed relatively equal in my eyes. What happened, though, was that the more and more I turned over the choices in my mind and compared schools, the more and more I started using Hopkins as the metric to judge other schools against. I looked at College X and immediately thought that their academics weren't as strong as Hopkins; I looked at College Y and considered how I liked the idea of living in the City of Baltimore more than the middle of nowhere. It got to a point where I tried to compensate by being more critical of Hopkins than the others, trying to find where I thought Hopkins was weakest and compare that to Colleges X and Y, but even then Hopkins still came out looking good. Finally I took a step back and realized - when you get to that point in the decision making process, when you make one school the standard to judge, when you start tearing an option down in the name of impartiality - that's when you know you have your Early Decision school.
I wrote an essay (for a writing contest, which I won *hairflip*) about my decision making process, which you can read here! https://blogs.hopkins-interactive.com/guest/2011/08/the-declaration-of-kevin-cryan-blue-jay/
I was recently asked while giving a tour if, knowing what I know now after all these years living here, I would still have applied Early Decision. The reasoning has shifted a little, but my answer is still, unequivocally, YES.
The reasoning, now as a Senior, is now that I love all of the opportunities I have been given at Hopkins, and I think I would be miserable at a school where I didn't have all the options in front of me. To clarify:
I love, and take advantage of, having full control over my schedule. I like that from the moment I got on campus I've been able to choose 5 classes a semester all by myself. I think I would go mad at a school where my first 2 years were full of Gen Ed requirements that I had to get out of the way. I mean, half my college years spent sleeping in the back of Chem 101 because some old guy who wrote policy a bunch of years ago thought it was important for my education? No thanks. I know what I like, and more importantly I know what it don't
like... and that's calculus. The amount of trust that the administration places in me to determine what's important for my education astounds me, and I'm so happy for that opportunity.
I also love the corollary to that idea, which is that you know that every single person in your classes is there because they specifically chose
to be there. At any other college, the Intro Chem class would be terrible - when you're forced into it as a Gen Ed, half the students don't even show up, and half the students who do show up sleep through it anyways. At Hopkins, you only take Chemistry if you like
it or consider it important to your education. That means classroom dynamics are really strong here, with great debates and discussions and interest. For example, this corollary gave way to probably my favorite academic experience at Hopkins. It was for a small seminar class called Abraham Lincoln and His America
and we had just finished reading a biography of Mary Todd Lincoln. When we gathered for class, one guy raised his hand and said, "Okay. Mary Todd was mean, ugly, and crazy! Why in the world did Lincoln marry so far down?" to which I combatively responded, "Are you kidding me?! She was fancy, she taught him how to wear a suit, and he could never have survived a cotillion without her! He married way up, she made him President!" The class divided up quickly into "Married uppers" and "Married Downers" and we debated the point for a solid half hour! That's the kind of thing that could only happen when everyone around you is an equally big American History nerd.
I also love the whole idea of research, and how easy it is to get it. As a high schooler, I had no idea what research was. I didn't even know that I didn't know what research was. It was just never on the radar. When I got to Hopkins freshman year, however, the word was everywhere. Upperclassmen would compare what they were researching, underclassmen would talk about the research they were trying to get, and Professors spoke about the research they were involved in all the time. It took me a while to start asking questions about what it actually was, and when I found out it was like a light had turned on and illuminated a whole corner of academia that I never knew existed. Basically, research is how you find out new stuff. All the professors conduct research - publish or perish, right? - and as I learned, 70% of Hopkins undergraduates do research too! A lot of the times it's as easy to get as finding out that a professor here is working on something you think is interesting, and emailing them with your resume. Or talking to your advisor about opportunities available, or getting a grant from the school, like the Woodrow Wilson fellowship. At Hopkins, it's basically like picking fruit off a tree, and it exists in every academic discipline. If you're interested in the Natural Sciences, it could mean breeding those superviruses that will one day kill us all (maybe.) If you want to be a doctor, it can mean following around doctors and helping out at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. If you're interested in Engineering, it can mean building super-robots that will one day rule out society once the human race is decimated by those aforementioned superviruses! Or as a History major, I do tons of Historical research: For example, this summer I am researching for our Graduate school of Education, looking into the history of an old public school that (long story short) they are renovating into their new private school.
Finally, I really enjoy living in Baltimore. This is going to sound like an insult but really it's a compliment - When a city sort of nosedives for a really long time, as Baltimore arguably has done, it gets to a point where, and this is a sociological fact, the hipsters swarm in. I guess it must be the cross section of low property values, a long held kitsch tradition, and its convenient urban location on the eastern seaboard, but Baltimore is totally undergoing some kind of urban revival. There is a big push here for urban gardens and farm-to-table restaurants, and just great food in general. I've had better dinners from the back of a Food Truck in Baltimore than I ever had home in Connecticut. And that's just the trucks.
The restaurants are even better! I love walking through new neighborhoods, and seeing just how up-and-coming they really are. I love stumbling across a hive of culture that I never knew existed - for example, in early August my friend and I were walking to Fells Point just for fun one afternoon and came across a huge outdoor market with tons of vendors peddling their wares and antiques for rock-bottom prices! I cleaned UP, let me tell you. Then we got these snow cones with a layer of marshmallow fluff
inside, called Snowballs. It was divine. On the walk back we saw an unusually large amount of people with neon wigs and pokemon costumes, until we figured out we were at the edge of an Anime convention! We wanted to stroll around the harbor and got hit smack in the face by culture, and I love that I live in a city where that's basically par-for-the-course. Exploring Baltimore is a little like going through all your Halloween candy: the city may never lose its The Wire
reputation, and your parents may always fear that the snickers you bite into has a hidden razor blade, but then you'll come across that King-Size Crunch bar and joyously declare it the best Halloween ever. I'm so happy I've had the opportunity to explore this cool city.
If you'd like to know about my classes, here they are! I've written a bunch of blogs about my classes for Hopkins Interactive as well, so links to each blog will be placed within their relevant sections. Freshman Fall semester I took
- Advanced Writing and Speaking in French
- International Politics
- A Freshman Seminar on the Nobels in Medicine and Chemistry
- Great Books at Hopkins
- Introduction to Environmental Engineering
And you can read about my reviews of these classes HERE: http://blogs.hopkins-interactive.com/2015/2011/11/occupy-my-free-time/Freshman Spring Semester, I took
- Advanced Writing and Speaking in French II
- Abraham Lincoln in His America
- Beginner Persian
- Contemporary African Political Economies in Historical Perspectives
- Hot Topics in Education
Review blog here: http://blogs.hopkins-interactive.com/kevin/2012/03/those-pesky-little-things/Sophomore Fall!!
- Parties and Elections in America
- Undergraduate Research Seminar in History
- Great American Constitutional Issues
- La France Contemporaine
- American Politics and its Discontents
review blog here: http://blogs.hopkins-interactive.com/kevin/2012/09/merica/Sophomore Spring O-vester I took
- Undergraduate Research Seminar in History
- [Making America: American History Since the Great Depression
- La France Contemporaine II
- AFRO Newspapers Research Seminar
- Oral Presentations
I actually wrote review blogs for individual classes for 3 of these courses! Junior Fall!
- Urban Politics and Policy
- Organizing War: Military Organizations, Culture and Bureaucracy in the Modern Age
- La France Contemporaine - I actually dropped this course halfway through last fall for personal reasons and I picked it up again in the spring. Time to take another crack at it!
- A class at the Graduate School of Education, Classroom Differentiation as a Teaching Method
- Course assistant for Oral Presentations. I loved the class so much when I took it in the Spring that I went back to work with the professor!
- Study abroad in Dakar, Senegal! Whoop!
Upcoming for Senior Spring...
- Senior Thesis Seminar in History
- Grad class at the SOE, Urban Education Reform
- Art, Culture, Wonder: The Vatican
- The Sounds of French
- Writing US Empire
- CA for Oral Presentations
- Senior Thesis Seminar in History
- Grad class at SOE, Curriculum theory, Development, and Implementation
- Oppression and Revolt
- History and Film
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------I participate in a few activities, such as
- I have a job as a paraprofessional at Baltimore School for the Arts. I want to be a history teacher when I grow up so I picked up a gig where I get to shadow teachers, talk to them about pedagogy, help students, and even run a few remedial classes at a prestigious high school in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore.
- Mock Trial. My one true activity left, this is a group of me and my best friends, where we compete as lawyers and witnesses against other colleges around the country to argue a fake case given to all of us in August. It's a wonderful mix of acting, competition, and the law, and it's purely a labor of love on my part.
- SAAB. It's the reason I'm here right now on Hopkins Interactive, we're the group of students who do our best to reach out to prospective students like you and help you understand what it's like to go to school here. Once again, it's just a labor of love - I know how agonizing the college application process can be, because I went through it too. Now, I just want to make sure I can help anybody currently embroiled in the madness of college-searching.
I haven't kept up with my involvement, but I also used to be a member of the following clubs, and if you'd like to ask me questions about these too, feel free!
- The Johns Hopkins Tutorial Project: This organization pairs up Hopkins tutors with kids in Baltimore schools. Currently I'm tutoring a 5th grader who I work with on math, Language arts, and coloring (although for that one he's actually my tutor). I've found the experience incredibly rewarding and I'm so happy that I've joined. We read the Magic Treehouse, go out to the brick outside with chalk to do multiplication and division problems, I make big scavenger hunts with math problems he needs to solve, and he's teaching me all about the Ravens!
- Chinese Lion Dancing: I saw this group at the Activities fair here at Hopkins and thought, why not? It's a ton of fun and actually much more complex than I imagined, but I like the challenge. I consider it one of my coolest little discoveries here at Hopkins! Update: I no longer Chinese Lion Dance. Yes, the things you join Freshman Fall aren't always the things you stick with throughout college. Shocker. But I still love the team and support them whenever they perform on campus!
- Blue Key Society: Yes, I'm a tour guide! I love talking about Hopkins, if you haven't been able to tell yet. With blue key, I get a captive audience for all my Hopkins love while walking through our gorgeous campus. ALSO I happen to be the highest tipped tour guide at Hopkins, because nobody ever gets tipped except one time a mom gave me $20 which was awesome and one time a dad bought me a smoothie at one of the on campus coffee shops (market price $5) so... $25!
- HOPS A Hopkins admissions group specifically tailored for our humanities-interested prospective students, I sit down for an hour of coffee a week with those prospective students and just chat about what it's like for us here at Hopkins.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------I live in
Well Freshman year I lived in AMR I, in a nice double just two doors away from JHU_Jacqueline. Sophomore year, however, I lived in a 'dingle' in McCoy hall! It's the coolest and I totally wrote a blog all about it because I loved it so much, here: http://blogs.hopkins-interactive.com/kevin/2012/12/the-dingle/
For Junior year, I got a swanky off-campus apartment on 31st street, 2 blocks from campus! Now, for Senior year, I have a beautiful triple about 2 blocks north of campus, on 39th street.