Feb 232015

Growing up, my favorite movie was Air Bud*. I told myself that I would live in a town just like the one Buddy lived in. Born and raised in LA, I never knew what a small town felt like, and as I grew older, I constantly kept that in the back of my head. It’s ridiculous, I know. Senior year of high school I only applied to schools on the East Coast. I had never visited, but was nonetheless excited of the potential to live in a place where I saw all four seasons.

Upon  my admittance to Dartmouth, I visited and immediately fell in love. I felt at home. I could call Dartmouth home. That’s what ultimately framed my decision to come. Let me tell you why I fell in love:

  • The physical size of the school. As a self-proclaimed city person, I realized how small Hanover was when a local directed me to the CVS “in town” being about 4 minutes away from where I was standing. I can basically get from one point of campus to another in about 10 minutes.


  • The infrastructure. This might sound silly, but Dartmouth in itself is super pretty. During the fall is when I caught a glimpse of the beauty everyone raves about. I often take walks during the Fall and Spring. The river is great to visit during the Summer. I love laying on the Green and doing work. I had never been this close to nature, with the Appalachian trail crossing right through campus. I think it’s pretty awesome that I can explore the woods whenever I want and have time, which is something I had never done in LA.
  • The small-town feel. I remember not knowing what to do when strangers (mostly locals) said hi to me as I walked on campus. Coming from a city, you don’t really do that. I really love it! I love getting to know people on campus. I love being able to run into people I know and say hi to familiar faces, but also still have a campus full of people I’ve never met before!


  • The students. During my visit, I met a handful of ’13s and ’14s who really helped me form my idea of what it would be like to come to a school like Dartmouth. They didn’t have to, but they spent the entire day with me hanging out and taking me around. After I went back home they kept in touch, and even now they have become some of my closest friends though they’ve already graduated. It was the students I met that made me feel like I was at home.

There are other reasons that I came to Dartmouth. The academics, the accessibility to professors, studying abroad, financial aid, the student engagements, which I plan on speaking on. However, I think that it’s important to consider what kind of physical environment you want to live in for at least four years.

*It’s actually hilarious I just found out that Air Bud took place in Washington state and I thought it was an East Coast town my entire life!

Feb 212015

During my junior spring of high school, I packed up and went on a four day road trip with my family to visit colleges. As a first-generation college student, this was all very exciting for my family, like a fairytale come true.

And so we began! From New Jersey up to New Hampshire and back down again. We stopped at Tufts, Amherst, Williams, Harvard, and many others, but there was no question about where I would be applying Early Decision: Dartmouth College.

When I first got to Dartmouth, I stood in the middle of the green and felt such a sense of peace and happiness. This sounds soooo cliche, but it’s true. I knew as soon as I stepped onto campus that this would be the place for me. As I went to the information session and campus tour, I felt like I could picture myself here. Part of it was the allure of the Ivy League, but part of it was the relaxed atmosphere- the idea that this was a place of communal learning rather than competition. I’ve heard horror stories of college competitiveness (people ripping out pages of books on reserves so people can’t access that information, purposely telling you wrong information, and refusing to send you notes when you missed class because you were on bedrest). After four years of vying to be at the top of my class in high school, I needed a break from that tenseness. What I’ve found instead is that Dartmouth pushes each individual student to succeed and surpass their goals, but doesn’t compare them to their peers. So while you are still being competitive, it’s more against yourself than with anyone around you.

I also had the advantage that kids from my high school were studying at Dartmouth when I came to visit, so I had dinner with them and talked about the student life aspects that we don’t really hear much about from official pamphlets and literature. The open social system, small size, and connections with professors all sounded amazing to me. Something I quickly found at was that I didn’t want to be in a city. My mentality shifted a lot throughout the college process and I settled on this logic: I have all my life to live in a city and experience that lifestyle, but only 4 years to be on an undergraduate campus where everything is revolving around making sure I have a wonderful experience and ample opportunities.

I went home after my trip knowing that Dartmouth was my first choice, so I applied and luckily got it early decision! I can honestly tell you it was the best day of my life. My advice when choosing colleges: trust your gut. You know where you will fit in best, you know what you want, and you know where you will be happy. Good luck to you all in the months to come and remember that this is just the first step in a life long journey of learning!

My first time on the Green with my dad and sister (Spring 2012)

My first time on the Green with my dad and sister (Spring 2012)

Feb 172015

I think I’ve mentioned this in one or two of my previous posts, but the biggest reason that I chose Dartmouth was the large Native American community and esteemed Native American Studies program.

I’m Native myself, a member of the Chickahominy Tribe, but was raised in a conservative, predominantly white community in Southern California. My mom made sure that my sister and I grew up with a lot of knowledge of and ties to our culture. I was used to being the only Native kid at my school; it was all I knew. But once I got to high school, I felt extremely isolated from the rest of the student body. This was largely due to my school’s mascot: the Warrior. It was hard to see my culture be trivialized and essentially mocked for the enjoyment of a cohort of people that had no idea what any of the appropriated symbols stood for or how damaging it is to rely on stereotypes of an entire race of people. I knew that I needed a different experience in college. I needed a supportive community that would understand and share my same life experiences and perspectives.

I heard that Dartmouth had a large Native student population, now almost 5%, which is one of the largest statistics of any competitive school in the country. I started to research more and discovered the Native American Studies program. While I had already come from a strong cultural background, I knew that there was more I needed to learn. I want to work as a doctor in a tribal community and I thought that the best way to serve my people was to be sure that I learn more, especially since no two Native American communities in the United States are identical. As an interdisciplinary program, Native American Studies has allowed me to explore Native experiences through historical, political, cultural, literary, and anthropological lenses.

Native Americans at Dartmouth (NAD) Grad

I was pretty set on Dartmouth after learning about all of the resources that would be available to me here as a Native student. And as I researched other aspects of the College, I started to idealize this place and fell in love. I saw satirical videos and articles published by the Jack-O-Lantern, the humor magazine on campus that Dr. Seuss once wrote for. I learned about the various famous alumni of the College: Dr. Seuss, Robert Frost, Mindy Kaling, Rachel Dratch, Shonda Rhimes, Aisha Tyler, and the list goes on. I read about all of the really quirky campus traditions: freshman bonfire, polar bear swim, human dog-sled race, etc. I wanted to go to a school that would provide me with opportunities to just have fun and enjoy my youth while I still have it.

Plus the fact that Dartmouth was ranked #1 in undergraduate teaching at the time was a huge bonus. I didn’t realize how important it would be for me to be able to have intimate classroom experiences with my professors and classmates, and to receive more personal attention to bolster my understanding and learning of the material. As my largest class this term has 13 students, I can say that I absolutely cannot imagine learning in a different (larger) environment.

I have learned and grown so much here. I can’t imagine having gone to another college.

Feb 142015

When I came to Dartmouth, I decided that I wanted to learn Arabic. Let me assure you, I had NO prior experience in the language. In fact, the most exposure I had upon arrival was pronouncing the names of some of my friends from home.

So I was really scared when the first class in college that I ever attended was in a language I didn’t know, with an alphabet I couldn’t read. However, the Arabic Department was so warm, welcoming and supportive that I quickly embarked on my journey of learning to read, speak and write Arabic. Let me tell you: it was the best decision I ever made. 

The great thing about the Arabic department is how small it is. With only a handful of professors, students and majors, you really get to know your professors and your classmates. Best of all: everyone struggles together and offers to help one another. No one is going to let you fail here.

The first year professors are currently: Professor Mostafa Ouajjani and Professor Jamila Chahboun. You will literally never find two professors that are more invested in your success and who offer themselves to you in whatever way you need.

mostafa jameels

They are fantastic! I encourage you all to check out the rest of the department and faculty at the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) Website.

On top of great experiences IN the classroom, Dartmouth runs so many great study abroads!

We offer one language based program in Rabat, Morocco


and one cultural-studies based program in Fez, Morocco. For the former, all you have to do is take 1 year of Arabic and then spend your summer studying in the beautiful capital of Morocco, soaking in the sun and language skills. For the Fez program, you need to meet a 1-2 class prerequisite which you can choose! I will be there this spring and am looking forward to it! (I will definitely be posting while abroad so keep an eye out for my posts to come…)

To hear more about study abroad experiences, check out: the “Dartmouth in Morocco” blog and explore our Off-Campus Programming!


Until next time!

Why Dartmouth? Why not?

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Feb 132015



We are about a month and a half away from the regular decision release date. For most of us who applied RD, we had the privilege of choosing between different offers. Within a matter of minutes, the stress flips from “am I going to get in?” to “how do I choose between x and y?”. It’s a mixed blessing and ultimately an exciting time.

I entered into the admissions process not having a particular “dream school” or top choices in mind. During the beginning of senior year of high school, I thought I wanted to be an engineer but as the school year progressed, I found myself more interested in the social sciences. At the time of my application, I was still torn between engineering and business and applied to numerous engineering programs and a few business programs to hedge my bets.

I was fortunate enough to be admitted to a wide range of schools each of which offered a completely different experience. After some narrowing down, my list consisted of Duke Engineering, UC Berkeley Engineering, Dartmouth, and Northwestern Engineering. I was still unsure whether engineering was the right path for me and the idea that I had to commit to a discipline/major upon enrollment made me hesitant. Although many of the universities allow you to transfer outside of the engineering college to choose a different major, I felt it would cause a lot of division between disciplines.

I looked more into Dartmouth, the only liberal arts school I had applied to. At Dartmouth, you are free to study any subject you want and there are no caps for majors and students are free to seamlessly jump between the Thayer school of engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences. If I ever wanted to switch into or out of studying engineering, I could do so easily and effortlessly.

Beyond academics, I loved the idea of the D-Plan. I enjoy traveling and constantly doing different things throughout the year. With the D-Plan, I am able to study when I want and where I want. It’s always fun speaking to different people about their D-Plans because no two are the same.

I knew very little about Dartmouth until I got in and even after I decided to matriculate, there were always those looming thoughts of “did I make the right decision?” My own personal philosophy is that you can make wherever you go “the right decision” by embracing the place and utilizing all the available resources. Dartmouth was not the image I had of college and it was not everything I wanted it to be, but I realized there is no perfect place for me. Every school will have things you like and things you don’t like as much.

So why Dartmouth? My present self would say it’s the best place ever. My high school self would say “why not?”.

Forming My Identity

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Feb 132015

As a senior, I have been reflecting a lot on my time here, and really, I think it’s unfair. It’s unfair that we can only take 36 courses throughout our time here. There are soo many wonderful courses that I now wish I had an extra year to take them all. One of my favorite classes was offered through the Geography Department titled “Social Justice in the City.” It was taught by one of the best professors I think I’ll ever have (yeah, it’s that serious), Dr. Sharlene Mollett. She was just great, I can gush about her for ages…

Anyways, in this class we explored many current and historical issues surrounding injustices in urban environments (hence the title “Social Justice in the City”. For me, it was more of a pivotal moment in my time here at Dartmouth that explained a lot about how I am as a person.

Born and raised in South LA, I always had experiences and feelings I never knew how to verbalize. Taking this class allowed me to explore how injustices are structural issues and learn more about the environment I grew up in. This class also challenged me to learn different ways of thinking and question why I think the way I do.

I feel like the majority of the classes I’ve taken at Dartmouth have challenged me in more than one way. They’ve opened new modes of learning for me, and have allowed me to study things I never even thought about!

Human Dogsled Race

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Feb 092015

 As part of the festivities of Winter Carnival this past weekend, the college held its annual human dogsled race. The snow storms in the northeast the past few weeks made it all the more appealing to me. The requirement to wear flare (wacky costumes of your choice) helped seal the deal.

I enlisted the help of 3 of my fraternity brothers to pull us to victory.

IMG_0640Face down, ready for the cold journey ahead.

IMG_0641 Momentum builds.

IMG_0642The turn is critical. The sled flips but I hold on for dear life. Recovery is made.

IMG_0643The homestretch. (Also I can’t breathe nor see from the snow)


Feb 072015

Here at Dartmouth College, Winter Carnival is a real holiday with cancelled classes and full days of programming. This weekend celebration can be a hectic time on campus with so many events to attend or traditions to partake in, so we’ll highlight some of the ones we think are pretty important.

1. 99-Cent Skiing! 

In 1957, the Dartmouth Skiway opened for business. With more than 30 trails and 100 ski-able acres spread out over two mountains, the Skiway has something from beginners to the most Olympian of skiers. It is customary for the Skiway to have a day when lift tickets cost only 99-cents in celebration of the weekend’s festivities! Take advantage of Dartmouth’s bus system that picks you up and drops you off in front of the HOP (Hopkins Center for the Arts). Busses run at 9 AM, 10 AM, 11 AM, Noon, 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm. Don’t know how to ski? No worries! We have the Snowsports School that is staffed with 35 instructors.

Take it from the staff over at the Skiway if you don’t believe us:  ”No matter what your skiing style, the Skiway has something fun for everyone: a 968-foot vertical drop, affordable ski tickets, a full-service day lodge, superb grooming, and exciting terrain features.”




2. Polar Bear Swim

*Warning: not for the easily frozen* Around midday every Friday of Winter Carnival, Occom Pond is utilized for those who want the excitement of jumping into a below freezing pool of water. Make sure to Brrr-ing a swimsuit, towel, and warm clothes. No one is allowed to do the swim after 1 pm, so come early for a spot online! Take the plunge and claim your spot amongst the thousands of Dartmouth students who have faced the cold over many decades! But really, the pictures are epic….
Just take a look!
prof jump Pond
This longstanding tradition takes place on the heart of campus: The Green. Sign up with your friends, put on some flair (wacky clothes) and unleash your spirit of friendly competition! With snacks and prizes, this is an UNMISSABLE tradition. I mean, look at how awesome this is:
Vox clamantis in desert.
A voice crying out in the wilderness.
Feb 052015

The access to opportunities that further your Dartmouth academic experience outside of the classroom are ever present and very attainable if you know where to look. I would say one of the most valuable things you can do at college is learning how to make connections with your professors and the other Dartmouth faculty in your life. Doing this helps you gain access to so many more opportunities and  build a network of support and guidance on campus. This support and guidance is necessary as you move through college and begin to build a future for yourself, not to mention you build lifelong friendships with some amazing people! I had the honor of participating in a research project over Fall term last year and had the honor of presenting my findings along with my group members at a Sociolinguistics conference in Chicago.

Our professor and presentation group having a celebratory dinner in Chicago after presentations.

Our professor and presentation group having a celebratory dinner in Chicago after presentations.

Our project centered around Native American dialects of english and the construction of Native American linguistic identities in North America. I learned so much through this experience and was able to do research that I really cared about as it made me feel like my experience as Native person is extremely relevant in a field that I love (Linguistics).This opportunity was facilitated and put into motion by my Sociolinguistics professor who saw potential in our project in class and took the time to meet with us and discuss how to further our classroom experience into some awesome, real-world experience. Communication and dedication are key in aligning a strong network of people to help you grow!!!

Presenting our findings!!

Presenting our findings!!

Feb 022015

I just made the trek from my on-campus apartment (near the Connecticut river) to the Undergraduate Admissions Office (near the College Green) in some pretty dense snow. My trek is shared by many students in Hanover during the winter. The first snow is always pretty and delightful (especially if you are from the west coast or a typically warm region), but after about the 5th straight snow day and realizing that you actually won’t see any sort of greenery until March, traveling adventures become less of an option and more of a priority. Hence, my list of the top 5 places to visit during winter at Dartmouth.


1.  Boston

While some may say that Boston isn’t the most appealing or entertaining city, it is the easiest major city to access from Hanover. The Dartmouth Coach (http://www.dartmouthcoach.com/) offers daily trips to and from Boston for just $50 round-trip. As a result,  Boston, for many students, is a quick weekend getaway with all of the major US city amenities at an affordable rate. Just imagine escaping the frozen tundra to visit friends at any of Boston’s 100 colleges and universities, checking out revolutionary America (say hi to Paul Revere for me), or indulging in some of the best chowder and oysters New England has to offer at the historic Union Oyster House. There are a lot of cool things to do in Boston and if all else fails, you have easy access to Logan Airport which will take you just about anywhere around the world. Wheels Up!

2. New York City

This was a tough one. I really enjoy NYC, so the Big Apple almost made number one on my list of places to visit. Of course, the city that never sleeps is within close proximity to Hanover. Like Boston, the Dartmouth Coach also makes daily trips t and from the Big Apple for a relatively low price compared to other travel options. Once you’re there, the world is yours. Not only does NYC have a pretty tantalizing social life, but there are tons of places to eat and sights to see. A substantial number of Dartmouth students are from the NY metropolitan area, and you’re almost certain to run into a Dartmouth alum while cruising the streets of NYC.

3. Montreal

Though this is a trip I have yet to make, I’ve heard far too many friends say that Montreal constitutes their favorite weekend getaway from Hanover. Montreal is slightly closer to campus than NYC, and is all the buzz in Canadian tourist destinations. The Programming Board at Dartmouth organizes annual trips to Montreal with hotel stay and many suggested options for entertainment. Ice bars, a plethora of eateries, and that french Canadian accent–what else is there to want in a trip from Hanover. This place is definitely on my bucket list before graduation in June.

4. Burlington

Burlington is Vermont’s major city. With the state literally bordering campus, the 1.5 hours it takes to get to Burlington is light work. Burlington is certainly smaller in size and population  than NYC, Boston, or Montreal, but that’s what makes it special. You’ll have access to a lot of the same places and things you would in your hometown without thousands or even millions of people surrounding you. Burlington is surprisingly diverse in comparison to other small northeastern cities, and University of Vermont (basically the nucleus of Burlington) might just give you that big university experience without the commitment. You’ll be right back in happy Hanover in no time.

5. The New Hampshire Wilderness

Alright, I know this list primarily consist of cities, but even as a city-boy, there’s something about the NH wilderness that is just as, if not more fun than going to a city for your getaway. Luckily, Dartmouth is highly invested in the preservation of the surrounding wilderness. The college maintains several trails, cabins, lodges, a ski way, an organic farm, and so much more. The Appalachian trail cuts right through campus and snow-shoeing is actually a thing around here. I never thought that the wilderness would offer anything worthwhile, but my friends and I make cabin camping, hiking, canoeing among other outdoor activities a priority. This getaway is right at the border of our campus and span across the entire state pretty much. With a membership at the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC), you can get access to our immediate surroundings for little to nothing.

No matter where you decide to go, I hope this short list serves as catalyst for your regional adventures. Though many associate Dartmouth with being isolated, you have more access to some really cool places in comparison to most colleges. So if you ever find yourself tired of the snowy trek across campus, or the snow globe in which we live for 3-4 months each year, one of these places can serve as that overdue getaway that you won’t regret!

- Kevin