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Feyisetan ’24: Do Not Fear Change

About four years ago, my college journey started with the Brown 2024 GroupMe. I had imagined my first year of college in many different ways except getting delayed and taking place online. I had watched many YouTube videos to get an idea of what the freshman dorms looked like or what the college experience would be. None of them were my reality.

I ended up spending my first year in a sophomore dorm, Hope College. I, and others, had a spring, summer and fall semester — speeding up the burnout process. And with limited orientation activities and communication with my advisor and upperclassmen at that time, I was stuck in the same routine from high school. Keep your head down. Complete your requirements. Strive for whatever honors you can.  

I'm sure of the many reasons we all chose Brown, one of them was the Open Curriculum. I still remember my alumni interview. I was asked “Why Brown?” At that time, it was easy for me to respond “the Open Curriculum and the option to take my classes pass/fail.” But it was not easy for me to put that into action once I got to Brown.

In my first semester, I took all STEM classes in a race against myself to complete my neuroscience requirements early. Even though I had previously thought of taking advantage of the academic freedom and exploring classes outside of my requirements, I was still stuck in the mindset of following one straight path into graduate school. Quickly, I realized how terrible of an idea that was. The following summer semester, I took creative nonfiction, my first mandatory pass/fail class.


I truly enjoyed the creative nonfiction. The readings. The discussions. The fluidity of focusing on the class content without the stress of being “perfect”. So the next fall I took VISA 0100 and a language course. And then in the spring, I went further outside my comfort zone and took a class in the EEPS department. And then later a course in the Hispanic Studies department and so on. I also went on to voluntarily pass/fail numerous classes.

One of my most memorable classes was EEPS 1220: “Climate Extremes and Human Rights” with Professor Amanda Lynch and Visiting Professor Charles Norchi. The class included a trip to Geneva, where we spent time at the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations. During my time there, I learned about disaster risk reduction and explored sample case studies. The trip ignited something in me, allowing me to fill a void I wasn't aware of in my class catalog. I was able to think more deeply about what career I wanted to pursue and my purpose in life.

I was also inspired to study abroad for a longer period, so I spent my senior fall in London. I had never thought of studying abroad, especially given the requirements in my concentration, but the flexibility afforded to me by the Open Curriculum allowed me to take this bold step. Being abroad or in a new environment for at least a semester is an experience I wish everyone could have in college. You get to learn in a different curriculum, take classes you might have never had the chance to take on your home campus and meet people from different walks of life.

These things, however little they might have been, were the big little things in my college journey. Embracing the change brought by the curriculum at Brown made me realize that my future can be anything I want it to be.

You might or might not have a similar story of your own. But as we stand on the brink of a new chapter, I encourage each of you to reflect on your own journeys. Perhaps, like me, you've encountered the power of embracing change — a change that expands horizons and ultimately shapes the person you are becoming. Our collective experiences, our collaborative efforts, do not only shape our individual futures but also contribute to a broader narrative of "Attracting Children from Nations and Returning Leaders to Nations," a saying instilled in me during my primary school days.

As we embark on the next phase of our lives, we are becoming the leaders of tomorrow. Some of us are going to further our studies, while others are entering the professional realm. Irrespective of our individual journeys, it's vital to remember that there are diverse paths leading to a common goal. The journey is what you make it to be. It may not always follow a straight line, but it is in the twists and turns that we discover our resilience, adaptability and the ability to craft our unique narratives. Today, we celebrate not just the destination but the transformative process that has molded us into graduates of Brown University. The world we enter is dynamic, and the challenges we face are ever-evolving. Be open to new ideas, welcome diversity of thought, and embrace the continuous process of learning. Remember that change is not to be feared but welcomed as a catalyst for growth.

As we say in the Yoruba language: “Ìgbà ò lọ bí òréré; ayé ò lọ bí ọ̀pá ìbọn.” “A season does not go on endlessly; life isn't always as straight as the barrel of a gun”. [Change is inevitable: nothing lasts forever; life often comes with twists and turns.]

Rolake Feyisetan is a graduating senior in Brown's class of 2024.



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