If I could give one piece of advice to incoming students at Hopkins, it would be this: Take a B’More course during intersession!  

Intersession is a three-week period between winter break and the spring semester where undergraduate students can take courses that are not typically offered during the school year. Specifically, the B’More intersession program is a one-week experience designed to introduce first-year students to Baltimore City’s civic and cultural landscape through community engagement. I really enjoyed my B’More course, so I’d like to share some reasons why I decided to take one.  

I am currently a first-year student (Class of 2026) majoring in Neuroscience on the pre-med track. I am also from out-of-state (who’s reading from Minnesota?!), so I didn’t come into Hopkins knowing a lot about the Baltimore community. As such, I wanted to learn more about the university and its connections with Baltimore since I’ll be living here for the next four years.  

The B’More program has been around for a really long time (16 years), and I think that really demonstrates how Hopkins wants their students to be introduced to Baltimore City’s resources to enhance their time here. All B’More courses are one weeklong, and they’re offered at the last week of intersession. I wanted to get back to campus a little bit early so I could fully adjust before starting off the spring semester with a bang, so the timing of the B’More courses was perfect for me. This year’s theme was “What is democracy?” I strongly believe in being an informed citizen, and I wanted to learn more about it and its applications to science.  

The B’More course I took was Public Health & Systems in Baltimore. Even though the course was for almost the full day (two hours in the morning, one-hour lunch break, and two hours in the afternoon), it really didn’t feel like that. My professor was amazing. She is the founder and executive of a nonprofit here in Baltimore (Touching Young Lives) that focuses on public education for infant care, and she is also on the Baltimore City School Board of Commissioners. Every day, we would have a speaker talk to us and how their career is related to public health. Even though these people came from all walks of life (Faith Leach from City Hall came to speak to us!), they were all able to touch on public health in some way.  

I didn’t know much about public health before taking this course, and the information I did know was more healthcare-based. However, through the speakers who came to see us and the various activities we did in class, I learned that public health really affects everything—every system in Baltimore. It relates to food insecurity, education, transportation, and policy, just to name a few. I even learned how I can achieve my goals for the future relating them to public health. This course helped me realize the skills I had (I thought I didn’t have many since I’m only a first-year student) and the paths I can take to achieve those goals. It was impactful for me to see how the goals I wish to accomplish will positively affect the health of the population around me, which is really what public health is about.  

Through this course, I really enjoyed reflecting on how doing work in the community will contribute to a more enlightening Hopkins education. Go Blue Jays!  

The above photo is a photo of our class (I’m on the very left with the brown sweater!) with one of our guest speakers, Casey Brent (top row, third from the right). She works in the Behavioral Health Administration in the Maryland Department of Health.