Education Without Boundaries
As a Goucher ambassador, Julia Nguyen '15 gives tours to prospective students and their families. The hardest part, she says, isn't remembering dates and facts; it's not even the walking backward part. "They really want us to keep the tours within one hour, but I always go overboard because I have so much I want to say," said Nguyen.
"I just brag about everything we have: the Athenaeum, excellent academics, small class size, the wide variety of offerings on campus." She also likes to mention that Goucher's dining halls serve some of the best-ranked food in the nation.
She says during the tours she sometimes finds that people are confused about the concept of liberal arts and think it has to do with political leanings, or, she says, "They think liberal arts colleges are disorganized and the students here are undecided and don't know what they want to do. I straighten them out. That is not who we are!"
Nugyen herself is very far from unfocused. She is proud that she took enough AP classes in high school to push her up a semester here at Goucher. The additional time will give her extra leeway in completing her intended major in biochemistry and minor in math, and she hopes it will allow her to do an internship or to take any other classes she wants - in the true spirit of a liberal arts education, which provides broad learning in multiple disciplines and ways of knowing, along with more in-depth study in a major.
"I want to get an idea of how everything is. I don't want to be close-minded or ignorant about other topics and subjects, like sociology or anthropology. I want to know what's going on in the world beyond bio and chem," she said.
Nguyen is stretching herself academically by intermingling her natural and formal science classes and labs with courses such Academic Writing, Intro to Sociology, and the Philosophy of Science.
She's also opening herself up to new ideas in her extracurricular time. She performs with the Bollywood Dancing Club, which she describes as "two hours of dancing nonstop, move after move." She is also in Lotus, Goucher's Asian American student club. Nguyen, who spent half of her life in Vietnam, is one of about 10 regular members who attend weekly meetings where they watch movies; hang out; and attend concerts, such as seeing David Choi, a Korean-American pop performer, play in downtown Baltimore.
She thinks Goucher has the "perfect" amount of social activities. "We sometimes have so many social activities that I can't keep track of them all or attend them all," she said. "There aren't a lot of wild parties, but you can find parties if you want to. It's nice that there isn't a lot of social peer pressure here."
Nguyen says she was the first in her family to get out of the nest and live on a college campus, so her parents - among others, of course - should be glad to know that Goucher has a fun social scene without devolving into being a "party school."
Nguyen says her parents are "a bit protective" and were against her coming here at first. With time, however, her dad recognized that "Goucher is a good opportunity," and her mom came around to encouraging her "to try new things and experience the college life."
Nguyen has settled in to life at Goucher and is loving it. For prospective students who are trying to plot their college careers (at Goucher or elsewhere), she advises: "Go with the feeling you have. That's what I did, and Goucher has been perfect. If it feels right, then it is."