Students Who Do Cool Things: Julie Christian, policewoman extraordinaire

Julie Christian is full of unlikely combinations. She can look you in the face with utmost humble sincerity and say, “I am so proud to wear a uniform.” Her favorite part of being a police officer is “witnessing the positive impact one can make in every event or call.” Julie is 49 years old. Oh, yeah, and don’t let me forget to mention—she’s a student at Brown.

Julie is able to study at Brown through the Resumed Undergraduate Education (RUE) program, which admits a small number of students who have been out of high school for six years or more and are looking to complete or begin a college education.

Clearly, Julie is a bit more than six years out of high school. In the time that elapsed between then and now, a lot’s happened that made her into who she is today: a police officer, police dispatcher, Eucharistic Minister, mother, and a Brown University first-year.

You might be shocked that someone so prim and put-together is a policewoman on the side. You might be shocked that this ex-stay-at-home-mom is a college student. You will be even more shocked to know that all of this—returning to school, becoming a policewoman—has only happened in the last three years of Julie’s life.


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Students Who Do Cool Things: Tanner, the male stripper


Tanner has actually never seen Magic Mike and cannot confirm whether or not it’s an accurate portrayal.

In our raciest edition yet of Students Who Do Cool Things, we sat down with Tanner, who works as a male stripper. Just because Valentine’s Day has passed, doesn’t mean we have to turn the heat down. Before we begin, just know that this Brunonian’s stage name is Tanner; don’t strain a muscle searching for him on Facebook.

BlogDH: Would you mind telling us what factors contributed to your decision to go into this line of work?

Tanner: Most people have the impression that strippers are doing it for the money and out of desperation. For me, I wanted to explore something new, something that has always–well not always, but has recently fascinated me.

BlogDH: When did your fascination with this start?

T: I started pole dancing at the beginning of last semester. I’d like to clarify that pole dancing and stripping are totally different things. I guess the crossover started to interest me after I went to a few clubs and people started suggesting that I should try this out, so I did.

BlogDH: How are you getting along with your fellow employees?

T: Actually, they are really nice, and we’ll go out to pizza after dancing. Some of them have really big personalities, as you might imagine, but we’re a diverse group. A lot of them give good advice about staying away from certain people, and we teach each other different moves. My first day, when I went to work and was meeting all of the other dancers, one guy said, “I’d shake your hand, but I’m putting on a cock ring”, and I thought, “Oh, this is going to be a fun group of people.” Continue Reading

Now Here This is live!

10933954_331628020371703_3994028759200166041_nNow Here This, co-founded by Sophie McKibben ’16 and Liza Yeager ’17, is an online platform for student-produced audio stories. New pieces will be released weekly, “featuring memoirs and interviews, investigative journalism and live storytelling, slam poetry, and more,” on the website designed by Emma Funk ’16.

The concept of Now Here This originated this past fall, when McKibben and Yeager realized that Brown was missing a platform – “an audio platform to host all kinds of the audio stories they loved to listen to.” The idea of creating such a project caught fire, and soon enough, a team assembled to make this dream a reality. Now, the organization has grown through collaboration with Brown Storytellers and support from the Dean’s Office, the Transformative Conversations Initiative at Brown, advisors Professor Beth Taylor from the English Department and Alex Braunstein from the Swearer Center, as well as from the Brown community at large.

Audio stories on the site will tap into a variety of formats and topics. Some “Features” pieces will perhaps remind listeners of podcasts like This American Life or Radiolab, featuring personal stories and investigations into science topics, for example. Some stories will have producers narrating, in the style of 99% Invisible, and others, such as the “Creative Nonfiction” pieces, may remind listeners of recordings by David Sedaris. Though inspired by the podcasts McKibben and Yeager grew up listening to, Now Here This is “not quite a podcast and not quite a radio station,” while aiming to carve out its own genre of audio content. The platform hopes to combine all different kinds of audio storytelling, not limited to a specified format or subject.

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Brown community continues to show solidarity with Ferguson and New York


In the weeks since the non-indictments of the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, we have seen all kinds of protests against a justice system that is rarely applied equally to all Americans. In Providence alone, there have been die-ins, marches, and a massive petition to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse demanding reform.

Though finals period often takes our attention away from just about everything outside of our looming exams, many members of the Brown community have continued to stand up and demand a more equitable justice system–one in which black lives matter. You can see as much on your news feed every day: our classmates are traveling to New York to join the Millions March, sharing posts about how best to be an ally at a time like this, and expressing their rage and sorrow at the events of the past month. Some have led their own protests, lending a hand in the best way they know how.

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Students Who Do Cool Things: Jared Rothenberg ’15 and Ivy Sokol ’15, founders of Moving Mountains

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We often take our time in nature for granted. Some of us may have gone to summer camps that taught us how to kayak or build a campfire; others may have lived just minutes away from a beautiful national park. Experiences like these, or even an outdoor activity as simple as a run up Blackstone Boulevard, are out of the reach of many children who grow up in Providence. Jared Rothenberg ’15 and Ivy Sokol ’15 have partnered in order to provide a greater level of access to the outdoors and, in doing so, are joining a growing outdoor education movement. Their new organization is called Moving Mountains.

In their words, Moving Mountains is “an environmental education program for high school students in Providence,” but it can be so much more. The website for the organization lays out a persuasive case for the value of outdoor education programs like this. Not only do they “empower participants to achieve academically, embrace civic engagement, and practice lifelong environmental stewardship,” but they also provide physiological benefits that range from lower blood pressure to improved mental health.

For Sokol, the setting of outdoor education is essential to improving outcomes for kids: “the wilderness is sort of a simplified classroom in which behaviors can be enforced really easily.” Outside the walls of a typical high school, students can “become more self-aware” while — as Rothenberg later added — still thinking about “their local environments, whether that’s local parks or local issues… that might influence their lack of access” to the outdoors. In this way, Moving Mountains’ programming promotes both “leadership development” and “a sense of environmental stewardship.”

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Students who do cool things: Dolapo Akinkugbe ’16 (DAP)


DAP–that’s pronounced ‘D-A-P’–is a junior at Brown; he’s also a student who does cool things. A producer first and a rapper second, DAP has established himself as a force to be reckoned with, and is rising in his renown on campus and off. After studying for two semesters at the Berklee College of Music during his gap year, Dolapo came to Brown. An enthusiastic piano player since he was a child, DAP has a natural predilection for bringing different sounds into his production style. He matches this with his flexible lyrical delivery (“flow”) and many ideas about the world and his place in it.

A couple of Fridays back, DAP rocked a crowd at Aurora in downtown Providence. The following Monday he dropped his fourth mixtape, GoodBye For Never, which demonstrates his versatility as a musician (he casually produced every track on the album, by the way!) and great ability as a lyricist and thinker.

This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with DAP and asking a few questions about his music and plans for the future.

Who are your main influences?

Kanye West immediately comes to mind, simply because he’s a complete artist. I also think he’s the best performer of all time, alongside Michael Jackson, and maybe James Brown, Beyonce. My favorite songwriter is Drake, the best rapper and lyricist in my mind is Kendrick Lamar. And I’d say Ab-Soul is the most intelligent rapper. I can tell that he’s both book smart and street smart.

And then I’m influenced by anything immediately around me, like A$AP and Gucci Mane, and I’ve taken influence from The Beatles and Motown, Stevie Wonder. For example, I’m going to a Stevie Wonder concert in a couple of weeks, but in a few days I’m going to Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Bibby and Jeezy concert. And I’m also going to YG and A$AP Ferg. So anywhere I get inspiration from I take it.

What are you studying at Brown?

Classics and I’m hoping to double concentrate with Music.

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