From the Big Apple to the Brown Bubble: WFTF Alum Sadie Stern Adapts

By John O’Donoghue

The promise of New York – its mystery, its excitement, its energy – is something Write for the Future ‘17 alum and Brown freshman Sadie Stern will forever carry. The native New Yorker admits the transition from the city to the “Brown Bubble” was challenging at first, having been “spoiled” growing up in a place where magic can happen around every corner. But if there’s one thing the city taught her, it’s how to adapt.

As nearly two intensive semesters fade into her rearview, Sadie can describe her first year experience as “quite wonderful”. Though she is well on her way to fulfilling her childhood dream of donning the doctor’s white coat, she has also taken full advantage of Brown’s unique open-curriculum, where students can design their own majors. Sadie made the rare decision to wed her pre-medicine major with another – English. It seemed to her that Brown “put too much power in her hands,” but only at first. Once she understood the chance to design her own academic track was only “terrifying” because of the great freedom given to her, she realized the value  in “the experience of branching out and choosing who I get to be.”

That great freedom makes her schedule a hodgepodge: on any given day, Sadie translates the writings of Che and Fidel from Spanish in her comparative literature class (her favorite), then crosses the College Green to Social Psychology (her second favorite), where she analyses the interconnectedness of people’s behavior, and, to cap it off, then heads home to plough through an organic chemistry textbook. But for Sadie, it all clicks: the wide variety in education she pursues only hardens her belief that “despite all of our many differences, we will always have more in common than not.”

Medicine is likely the more grueling of Sadie’s academic pursuits, but English at Brown is no softball. Her days are filled tackling thick stacks of dense reading, hefty analytical essays, and heated in-class debates, and all the while she is working to become a doctor! She credits the stellar education she received at The Little Red School House for her success. “LREI taught me time management,” something that has helped her juggle her academic, social, and extracurricular endeavors without dropping a single ball. And with Sadie’s schedule, time management is essential. Outside of the classroom, she has continued her high school traditions of both athleticism and teaching: she runs point for the Brown women’s basketball team and tutors 4th graders at a nearby elementary school in Providence. Sadie played both basketball and volleyball in high school and praises sports for both giving her a supportive community and a relief from the classroom. As well as dishing out assists on the court, she passes down the strong education she has received to others. In high school, Sadie discovered her passion for teaching when a friend mentioned the GO Project, a volunteer program that supplements the education of low-income New York children. She translated her valuable time volunteering there into her current, weekly commitment to two Providence children, whom she tutors in math, science, and English.

Sadie remembers how helpful it was this past year to have a relationship with upperclassmen who suggested interesting classes and advice on how to excel at Brown. To return the favor, next year, she will serve Brown’s incoming freshman class in the Mickel John Peer Advisor Program where she, now with a year of experience under her belt, will mentor incoming first year students. Sadie’s past, present, and her uncertain future – down the line she could be performing open-heart surgeries, writing novels, or both – is oriented towards one purpose: “I know it sounds cheesy…but in ten years I want to be making a difference.” With medical school still far over the horizon, Sadie is not sure just yet how she will be making that difference, but believes a stint with Doctors Without Borders could be in the cards. But as much as Sadie likes the idea of seeing another part of the world and serving a community in need, her heart will never leave New York: “The city has this magnetism, once you’re there, you can’t help but feel its pulse.”