John Hopkins

Two Mexican pizzas into our pre-college dinner, my best friend punctuates our conversation of comparing dorm bathrooms and losing hair over course selection with this one:

Isn’t it supposed to be John Hopkins?


Look, I’d seen the way people on the Facebook group got defensive over that “s”, and I wasn’t going to let them down here just because I had no clue. Sure, I’d asked myself the same question. And I vaguely remember Wikipedia’ing it weeks ago. So I scrunched my eyebrows and stared at him, pretending it was the dumbest question I’d ever heard. You know how sometimes you assume that if you look incredulous long enough you’ll realize why?

They wanted to keep the family name alive or something, I managed. That should do it. But there had to be a better explanation than that. There was something about that “s” that couldn’t be be bogged down to a historical technicality. There was more to it.

Over the course of the year, I’ve kept my investigation going strong. I’ve searched every nook and noggin to try to justity the letter. And now, as the second semester of my freshman year comes to a close, I want to share some of my findings with you.

Maybe the “s” stands for spontaneity.

In high school, it was all about the schedule. Every day was the same routine, over and over and over and over again. The same classes, the same lunch, the same ride home, the same homework. Everything was structured out for me to execute. Hopkins turned that lifestyle inside-out. Here, the only thing I had structured concretely was my class schedule. The whole world around it was dynamic and incredible. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy some routines. Bagels and vegan muffins are and always will be my FFC staple breakfast (until next year). The Eisenhower library samosas are my go-to brain food. And I have this weird thing where I can’t cross the Breezeway if I don’t take a moment to inhale sharply on the terrace and take in the most picturesque campus I have ever set foot on. But it’s nice to break that routine every single day. Do the Color Run. Take a late night trip to UniMini with your floor. Try the sunrise yoga class. Take a pleasant stroll down Greenmount Avenue at 3am (guys, don’t). Even if I take the same classes every week, no day at Hopkins has ever been the same. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Maybe the “s” stands for smart.

I wouldn’t define intelligence by grades. Sure, it’s a factor. But Hopkins students aren’t just great in the classroom. And I think that’s what makes them so smart. Balance is a big deal here. Classmates go far beyond their GPA, and that depth is evident. They don’t just get involved outside of the classroom for the resume boost, they do it because it’s their passion. Only at Hopkins can you hum along with an a cappella singer on the way to an orgo final. Or lose 12 games of chess in a row to a floormate before he tells you he used to be the New Jersey state champ. But for as intelligent and talented and complex as your classmates are, you never feel intimidated by them. Because, at Hopkins, you don’t flaunt your skills. You don’t brandish your flashy grades. You bounce your capabilities off one another and grow as an individual. And that’s how I define smart.

Maybe the “s” stands for standing together.

Before I came to Hopkins — no, before I applied, I was terrified of it. To me, Johns Hopkins was the cold, gray research institution that pumped out papers and cut down grades. It was every man for himself. Don’t get me wrong, I love research. But, to me, even more important than resources was the ambiance that came with it. An environment of warmth that was conducive to collective success. Clearly, Hopkins was the complete wrong choice for me. But then I met Brody. Brody is probably my best friend, guys. It’s the epitome of contributive learning and group success. The first time I stepped in it during the school visit, every rumor of cutthroat competition and vicious curves was dispelled in a heartbeat. At Brody Learning Commons, I found the perfect vibes of a thriving student community that worked together to reach a common goal. At Hopkins, more than in any other school I have visited, I found an atmosphere of collaboration and camaraderie that I personally find essential not only to do well in school but to grow as a person. To learn from others and expand my views. To be a part of a team. To be a Blue Jay at heart with swelling pride.

Maybe the “s” stands for sanitary.

The bathrooms are so clean man. (I just made a lot of peoples’ college decision a lot easier, and you know who you are)

Maybe the “s” stands for sity.

Not how you spell city, but I needed a way to rant about how amazing Baltimore is. I’m a Jersey guy, so I always grew up with the notion that every city besides NYC was just a pretend city. Wrong. Baltimore has this certain energy to it that I’ve never felt before. From its upbeat cadence to the helpful, friendly people, Baltimore has easily become my new home. Long strolls down the harbor, pretending to understand Ravens games and spontaneous trips to the aquarium have defined my freshman year, and I can’t wait to spend three more years in Charm City.

Maybe the “s” stands for SAAB.

This whole college decision thing is a nightmare. Figuring out where you’re going to spend the next four years of your life — and the school you’re going to wear on your hat when you’re old — is no joke. And it’s so hard to sift between them because they all market their schools so well. Glossy pamphlets that gloss over every con turn every school into a dream school. But it was SAAB that gave me the only an authentic taste of a school, inserting me right in the middle of the vibrant Hopkins community and giving me unbiased (mostly), honest, and calculated views of what Hopkins is like. Admissions recruiting isn’t about getting the most students to matriculate, it’s about getting the students that you know will love every minute of their college experience. And SAAB gets that. Which is why I am so insanely glad that I applied to SAAB my freshman year summer. The friendships I’ve forged, the subsidized Chipotle I’ve consumed, and the lives I’ve influenced make it the most memorable and permeating experience I have at Hopkins. Apply you guys.

Next time someone asks what the “s” in Hopkins means…I mean I’m probably still going to forget. Saying all this every time someone asks is probably a great way to lose friends. But at least I’ll understand that it’s way more than a letter. It’s our niche. It’s our quirk. It’s who we are.

And that’s why I go to Johns Hopkins.

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