Student Life: Student Stories

Spelman Spring

Student Stories

Gabrielle Porter - Stanford University

November 2015

gabrielleporterI am currently on domestic exchange at Stanford University in Stanford, California -- the heart of Silicon Valley. Stanford is a large suburban university with 7,000 undergraduates and 9,000 graduate students. The beautiful campus is 8,180 acres and a bike is required for speed and efficiency. The student body is 43% white, 23% Asian, 13% Hispanic, 8% black, 8% international, 2% Native American, and 3% other. The small black population, in addition to the geographic location, has definitely been an adjustment, but not necessarily a struggle.

California is also very different from Atlanta. People exercise frequently and eat healthily  -- I have never eaten so much kale and quinoa in my life. People are also very concerned about the environment --  Teslas, compost sites, and reminders to conserve water are common (part of the emphasis on the environment is due to the drought California is currently facing). The technology sector also dominates here. Being in the heart of Silicon Valley means there is a huge focus on STEM and tech startups. Despite being a liberal arts school, which traditionally emphasizes all disciplines, STEM reigns supreme at Stanford and it seems like other disciplines are on a second tier. I believe Stanford would benefit from an emphasis on other fields of study to prove that technology cannot survive alone; instead, it requires a wide range of knowledge to truly succeed.

Academically, Stanford is great. My classes and readings are very interesting. I am taking a five-credit course about the healthcare system, another five-credit course about comparative studies in race and ethnicity, and a four-credit course about data analysis for social science. I am also enrolled in a one-Gabrielle Porter 2credit lecture series about social entrepreneurship, which has proven to be fascinating. My classes are the best part of this experience and something I look forward to everyday.

Overall, my short time at Stanford has been a powerful learning experience that has opened my eyes to the wide range of professional, academic, athletic, and extracurricular opportunities at a large, private university. While I appreciate what I am learning, this experience has also reinforced the fact that I made the right decision to attend Spelman.