Enjoy this post by Jade Robinson, one of our Special Collections Freshman Fellows for the 2020-2021 academic year!

My name is Jade Robinson. My time with the Freshman Fellows program is unfortunately coming to a close, but I am so grateful to have been given this wonderful introduction to the Special Collections program and research Rachel Carson at Hopkins.

This program provided me with immense resources, flexibility, and support which allowed me to fulfill a research project while also remaining dedicated to my other interests on campus. I am thankful for my research mentor, Jim Stimpert, Heidi Herr, and all of the staff members who helped alleviate my nerves throughout the entirety of my fellowship. My favorite aspect of the program was the variety of references that were available to me. While I was provided with resources such as Rachel Carson’s student file, I was also encouraged to find sources on my own, such as the Rachel Carson documentary by the American Experience. This balance provided me with structure and direction while simultaneously giving me freedom to explore sources and perspectives on my topic. Similarly, I also enjoyed the flexibility to not only direct my own path of research, but to choose the modality of how my research was presented. One of the initial incentives of the Freshman Fellows program was the opportunity to present my findings in a unique manner, rather than a research paper. I decided to display my information as a Powtoon, an animated short film which allowed me to represent my topic in a creative way. I greatly enjoyed the deviation from my predominately STEM coursework with the opportunity to explore animation, voiceovers, and the project as a whole.

Despite already having a deep respect for Rachel Carson, which was another reason I was so thrilled to pursue this research, I have gained even more insight into Rachel’s life, from childhood to her time at Hopkins, as well as her well-documented influence on society and industrial practices. I particularly enjoyed Rachel Carson’s tenacity in the face of scrutiny, her sense of loyalty to the truth, and her dedication to the environment. I could not have imagined a better chance to gain a new appreciation for Rachel Carson and the history of Johns Hopkins.

With my coursework, I did not anticipate being able to investigate the history of Johns Hopkins University amid my first year studies. Being a Freshman Fellow gave me the opportunity to become more connected to the history of the university which I believe is invaluable, as I will one day have the privilege of being a Hopkins Alumna. I have learned so much about not only Rachel Carson, but the history of Hopkins and how our university has evolved over time.

I hope that the Freshman Fellows program continues to thrive for years to come. While my experience with the program was primarily virtual, which will hopefully not be the case for the future, I am confident that I did not miss out on the joys of Special Collections and the experience that I will carry with me as I continue to become more involved in research at Hopkins.  If you wish to view the entire 12-minute animated video, you can do so here.

Goodbye Freshman Fellows!