Senior Orators

By
Thursday, May 22, 2008

Amina Massey ’08

Massey came to Brown because she knew professors here would “follow her lead” in what she wanted to study. The Minneapolis native ended up an ethnic studies concentrator, focusing on the social construction of illness and its effects on ethnic groups in America and abroad.

Her thesis focused on “the ways that chronically ill black women use spirituality to manage their illness,” she said. She gave cameras to women in Philadelphia and Brazil to document their sicknesses, interviewing them based on the pictures they took. She will speak on how she has used her own personal ideas to create a more universal movement.

“I personally have been able to change my own personal sense of struggle into something that I can use to relate to other people, and in that connection, make meaningful social change,” she said.

Massey will enter a graduate program in medical sociology next year at the University of California at San Francisco.

Olivia Olsen ’08

A native of Sweden, Olsen spent most of her childhood in France, just across the Swiss border from Geneva. She attended an international school in Geneva, thrown into English-speaking classes with no prior English experience at age eight.

“It was a very lonely time,” said Olsen, though she adapted quickly, eventually applying to American and British universities before choosing Brown.

Olsen concentrated in comparative literature, following the literary translation track to a thesis composed of an English translation of a Swedish novel, “Hunden,” or “The Dog,” by Kerstin Ekman. Building on her academic and personal background, her speech will discuss crossing borders through translation.

“Translation can be from one language to another, but it’s something that we do every day anyway,” she said. “You write a piece of music, and you translate your experience into something someone else can understand.”

Olsen remembers the “random encounters” she has had at Brown as a defining aspect of her experience. She met one of her best friends through a casual conversation in the Blue Room as they shared a table.”We sometimes complain that Brown has no school spirit, but I think that’s school spirit,” she said.

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