Spotlight on Rachel Gross

Meet Rachel Gross - a Brown University student who transferred from a community college with a passion for academia and literature. 


Tell us about your transfer to Brown from a community college in Florida. 

I have always been incredibly passionate about academia, knowing that education is where I find myself blossoming in my life. This love pushed me to be the best student I could, always challenge myself to attend harder lessons, and strive for the top grades. Graduating from high school in 2014, I hoped for more. I wanted to attend a four year university and begin a new path in my life. However, due to various circumstances, community college was the best option for me at that time. I loved the two years I spent there, surrounded by the love and support of my college family and the enthusiastic support and endless advice from my mentor. Yet I always heard the small voice in the back of my head crying out for more, telling me that I could push myself to new heights. Fast forward to May 15, 2016 when my acceptance letter from Brown University arrived. I was now an accepted transfer student to a national renowned university - cue the panic. I will never be able to describe my confounding emotions at that point. I was so excited that I had done it; I had successfully applied and been accepted into a university that makes opportunities endless. But I was also terrified. I had to begin life over again. As a 21-year-old woman, I had to leave everything behind and start from scratch. I had to rebuild even some of the foundations I had already set, and this was incredibly worrying. In these moments was when I questioned my very strength and will, my positivity and determination. Yet all the answers came out the same- I could do this joyfully and smoothly and with everything I had in me. This opportunity to rebuild my life how I saw it was so instrumental to me in feeling independent and in control. Transferring has offered me the chance to become the true me, the person I would have never found without buying that first plane ticket and saying hello to a brand new world. 


What is your passion, and what are you doing to make it central to your life? 

My passions are numerous in my life and are always morphing. I love academia and education. I will never tire of learning new things and being taught new ideas. I love experiencing new situations that allow me to grow further into myself. I adore a huge cup of coffee next to a warm fireplace on a winter’s day. But what really motivates me to get out of bed each day is words, is narrative, and is stories that fill my life with color. I began reading my first novel (a children’s novel) at the age of 7 and have yet to turn back. My reading list only gets longer with each passing year and I question how I will ever get to read them all. Whether a personal narrative or a fictional world, literature moves me to take action and find meaning in every day and in every word. I concentrate in English Literature at Brown so my semesters are inundated with the opportunity to read new works and grow in literary analysis skills. I am also beginning to make my passion more central through personal writing activities. I understand the incredible power that words hold to its audiences, and I am passionate to move people through my own writing. Currently, I am finding myself making movements in the media and publication world in order to bring a new focus to my work. I know that my stories can make differences, my writing can move mountains, and I am beginning the uphill journey to make this passion come to life.


What is your favorite thing you’ve ever written? 

At this point in my educational and career journey, I have written a few different pieces each with their own writing style. I have taken on a role of transfer blogger, using my words to encourage and inspire other potential transfer students. I have accomplished some freelance work and more personal creative writing. Most of my English Lit concentration is comprised of writing essays, so academic pieces are by far my most prevalent. However, my favorite thing that I have ever written would have to be a piece on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I am always enraptured by Shelley’s use of imagery and diction to create an ethereal and dark landscape within the novel. I would always choose to write on this work if I could, though I never imagined a simple essay pushing me to new personal heights. This essay started off as a critical analysis piece submitted as an assignment for an English course at my community college. It then become transformed into my first conference presentation piece and then into a panel reading at a separate event. As a naturally introverted person, I would have never imagined myself standing before an audience of intellectuals and reading a work of my own. Yet here I was, twice with this piece. This is my favorite work that I have done simply because of the blossoming of personal character that I underwent with my favorite novelist, my top book, and my own voice finally loud enough to make change. 

Haley Smith