Emma Brown, ‘16, is a freshman at UC Berkeley who plans on majoring in computer science.
Q: Why did you choose Cal?
A: I really liked the idea of going to a big university that was located in a city.
I also loved Cal’s history in terms of important movements and discoveries that happened on campus.
They also have a really good computer science program, which was a big pro for me.
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: Last semester I took Computer Science 61A (The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs), Math 1B (Calculus), Italian R5A (an English class focusing on Italian writers) and an Ethnic Studies seminar focused on discussing topics covered in the book “Just Mercy.”
I’m way more excited about my classes for this coming semester, though. I get to take a molecular and cell biology (MCB), a class called Brain, Mind and Behavior, an animal behavior class, a data structures class and a class about different forms of folklore.
Q: Which class was your favorite?
A: My favorite class last semester was the seminar because we talked about reentry, the death penalty, the school-to-prison pipeline and other related topics which I hadn’t ever studied but, as it turns out, I’m very interested in. I’m most looking forward to my MCB class next semester.
Q: Which was your least favorite?
A: My least favorite class was Calculus. It was basically AP Calc BC, which I took in high school, but it was much harder than I was expecting.
Q: What made it so hard?
A: My professor wasn’t the best; he moved through the subject pretty quickly. And I was more focused on my (computer science) class.
Q: How big are your classes?
A: My smallest class was 17. My biggest was 1800. That was (computer science). I like to throw that number out there because people are always shocked, even at Cal!
Our first two lectures were held in Zellerbach Hall, which is where they have performances on campus. Even in there, people were sitting in the aisles during lecture! Then they moved it to a (smaller) ballroom because they know not as many people will come to lecture later on. Also all the lectures were online, so you didn’t have to go and could listen to the professor talk (twice as fast) on YouTube, which is funny.
Q: Do you like big or small classes better?
A: I really like my big lectures. We have them in performance halls, which I just think is super cool. Also my professors are really interesting, but I don’t get to have them in discussion.
Q: Do you live in a dorm?
A: Yes, I live in Unit 3, which is one of the dorms two blocks off of campus.
Q: What are your roommates like?
A: I went random, and I got lucky with my roommate situation. They are both super nice. Kind of a small world story: one of my roommates is from Elk Grove and has actually been coming to SCDS every Sunday with a group, Chinmaya Mission, since she was in fourth grade!
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I spend a good chunk of time involved in events, activities and responsibilities for my sorority and hanging out with friends on my floor.
Q: What sorority are you in?
A: I’m in Tri Delta.
Q: Why did you decide to join?
A: I decided to go through with recruitment because I had heard great things about sororities at Cal from a lot of women who I respect who were involved in Greek life here. I decided to join one because I really liked the idea of having a big group of supportive people who would be with me throughout my college career and after.
Q: What sorts of events are you involved in for your sorority?
A: I’m the secretary for 2017, so I’m in charge of compiling the roster of all members; keeping track of attendance at events such as chapter and officer meetings, educational presentations and ceremonies; and documenting what happens at these events.
We also put on a lot of events to raise money for our philanthropy; last semester we had a philo event, where we sold pancakes in our house.We also did cookie deliveries to anyone in Berkeley (in) February.
Also right now we are in the midst of doing Spring Recruitment, which I’m involved in.
Q: What charity does your sorority support?
A: Tri Delta supports St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
Q: Do you leave campus often?
A: I don’t leave campus regularly, but sometimes I take the bus to Trader Joe’s with floormates or walk to a restaurant in downtown Berkeley. I went to San Francisco twice in the first semester, once to go ice skating at Union Square (they were sold out, so that didn’t go as planned) and once with a friend on the day before winter break.
Q: Is college what you expected?
A: I had no idea what to expect when coming to college, but I really like it. I love being at Cal, and even though some people may think the size is a big drawback, that’s one of my favorite things about it. I think it’s really cool to think about the fact that tens of thousands of people are walking on the same campus as me every day but are having vastly different experiences.
Q: Do you miss anything from home?
A: I miss my pantry and being in East Sac.
Q: Do you not like Cal’s food?
A: I just miss having easy access to a lot of different types of food.
Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2017?
A: If you are feeling intimidated by large schools, don’t be! I was nervous about going to such a large school coming from Country Day, but now I can’t imagine myself at a small one. Also, I was told that you don’t make friends in your classes, but I made some of my best friends in my classes, so don’t believe everything you hear about college!
Also, don’t feel pressure to have the same experience (that) your friends may be having – make it your own.
Q: Why can’t you imagine yourself at a small school?
A: I just love being in big cities and largely populated areas (like Cal) so much, and a small school couldn’t provide that for me.
—By Anna Frankel